Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Radiologist Salary Facts

There is a lot of information available about radiologist salaries. However, when assessing this information, you have to consider the quality of the information. Since there is no centralized, standard database of radiologist salary data, the majority of the information available is based on physician surveys. These surveys have several flaws that you have to bear in mind. 

First, the radiologist salary survey has selection bias, meaning not all radiologists responded. Think about it: who is going to respond to the survey, the radiologist who is busy making money, or the one who is not and has the time to respond to a survey? How often do you respond to surveys? ... exactly. If this is true, the data out there must be underestimating the true mean salary.

Also, some of the reports do not make a distinction between radiology residents and full-time radiologists. If you want to compare radiologist salary, you have to compare apples to apples. A fully-licensed radiologist can easily make 10x as much as a resident, again weighing down the numbers commonly reported. If you remove the radiology resident data, the average will necessarily be higher, reflecting figures more commonly quoted in the market. 

Lastly, you have to factor in other key variables, such as years of experience, practice location, and specialty. Obviously, as years of experience increase, so does salary, especially 5 - 10 years out, when most radiologists in private practice make partner. Practice location also plays an important role. Radiologists in urban areas command a lower salary because there is more competition for these spots. Suburban areas do the best. Rural areas can have positions with good compensation, but they typically have fewer resources as well as less demand. Radiologists are increasingly receiving fellowship training, which can significantly affect income. One survey reported an average of $100,000 difference in annual salaries between diagnostic radiologists and interventional radiologists!

Keeping all this in mind, the latest data for 2008 show an average radiologist salary of approximately $395,000 based on several different surveys. As mentioned above, radiologists with more experience, working in suburban areas, and practicing interventional radiology were paid the most. Anecdotally speaking, some radiologists in particularly lucrative private practices can make upwards of $2.4 million per year! 

Regardless of the variations in salary between radiologists, the field of a radiology as a whole compares very favorably with other specialties within medicine. In fact, radiologists often make more than many surgeons. Of course, highly specialized surgeons still command a higher salary, but salaries for general surgeons have steadily eroded over the years as they have lost ground to specialists and interventionalists. In constrast, radiologist salary continues to increase, although at a slower rate than before. Although radiology itself faces some pressures from other fields, the nature of the work makes it less likely that other fields will encroach on radiology's turf. 

If you want to learn more about the average radiologist salary as well as facts about salaries in general, consider reading the following resources: