Unlocking the Potential: Navigating Salary Structures for Diagnostic Radiology Physicians

Diagnostic radiologists are responsible for helping to diagnose injuries and illnesses in patients by employing a wide range of imaging procedures, including X-rays, CT scans, and even MRI scans. Being such an integral part of any hospital or private practice setting, diagnostic radiologists naturally want to make sure that they’re earning the salary they deserve for all of their academic efforts.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what the average diagnostic radiology salary is, how you can boost your salary using various strategies and choices, and the considerations you should have about your wealth moving forward.

Average Diagnostic Radiology Salary

The average salary for a diagnostic radiologist according to the 2023 MGMA Compensation & Production Report (based on 2022 data) reveals that diagnostic radiologists can expect to make around $568,327.

Outside of the MGMA report, numbers will vary greatly depending on the source in question. A few of the salary averages we managed to gather include:

  • Salary.com lists the average diagnostic radiologist salary as $451,703.
  • ZipRecruiter offers a state-by-state comparison for salary averages, with a range starting at $178,852 for diagnostic radiologists in Florida to $266,258 in New Jersey.
  • The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the average salary to be $329,080.
  • Glassdoor estimates the average salary as $226,000.
  • Chron revealed that, based on 2019 data, the average salary was around $492,102 for interventional radiologists.
  • Zippia believes it to be much lower than other sources, providing an average of $135,855.

Overall, there’s a wide range of average salary reports out there, which may be influenced by numerous factors such as base salary only, bonuses benefits, etc. Understanding these factors is crucial to understanding your earning potential.

Related: What’s Included in a Doctor’s Benefits Package?

Factors That Can Affect Your Salary

There are multiple factors that play a role in salary, with some being a positive aspect you can leverage and others being detrimental to your lifetime earnings. But what exactly are these? Some of the major factors that you should be aware of include:

The Gender Pay Gap

We mention the gender pay gap every time, and that’s because, even in medicine, there still exists a pay gap in so many specialties that it’s hard to avoid. In diagnostic radiology, female radiologists earn around 81% of what male radiologists earn, which can be quite distressing if you’re seeking to hit some of the averages above. Knowing to expect that and how to navigate it can help you in your career ahead.


It’s no secret that we’re in the middle of a broader physician shortage, but many specialties are being hit just as hard by the overall shortage of medical professionals. This development is often rooted in two things: a population that’s affected by various factors like poverty, age, and disability as well as a dwindling workforce due to retirement and burnout or lack of desire to spend so many years pursuing a specialty. This factor can work in your favor as you’ll be working as a specialist that institutions need more of.

Student Loans

Depending on how you navigate them, student loans are going to cut into your salary significantly. In fact, it’s estimated that the average diagnostic radiologist has $190,000 in student loan debt going into their early careers. Balancing these loan repayments with other living expenses can put tremendous strain on your starting salary as a diagnostic radiologist. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the burden of student loans, regardless of whether you choose refinancing or forgiveness. In fact, we offer special discount rates for refinancing that you can take advantage of immediately.

Another factor worth taking into consideration is whether or not to choose a subspecialty in diagnostic radiology as this choice may be able to boost your salary. Data is rare regarding some of the salary averages for subspecialties as a diagnostic radiologist, but some subspecialties worth considering include:

  • Hospice and Palliative Medicine
  • Neuroradiology
  • Nuclear Radiology
  • Pain Medicine
  • Pediatric Radiology
  • Vascular and Interventional Radiology

Taking the time to consider exactly what you’re looking for out of your career and evaluate potential risks and advantages long before you start chasing down opportunities can help you boost your earning potential and figure out how to navigate challenges before you encounter them.

Keep Reading: The Full Breakdown to Medical School Student Loans

Diagnostic Radiology: How Can I Increase My Salary?

Beyond leveraging the factors listed above to increase your salary, there are other ways to earn more as a diagnostic radiology. Here are a few suggestions that might help you surpass some of the salary estimates we’ve provided above.

  • Work Locum Tenens: Locum tenens diagnostic radiologists are able to travel around the country and work where they please for as long as they wish. While this may come with its challenges, it gives you the ability to travel as well as to see how much you could be earning in various states. If you’re not quite sure where you want to practice, this can be a smart way to jump around, see what you like, and boost your earning potential in the future.
  • If You’re Savvy, Private Practice: Private practice diagnostic radiologists do have the potential to make more. But it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of such a route, as going private is not always a clear path to success. Partnering with the right professionals, carefully considering cutting-edge equipment costs, and thinking about whether or not it’s the right fit for you at this point in time is essential to
  • Go the Academic Route: While academics do tend to earn slightly less than those with a private practice, those who are pursuing an academic career in diagnostic radiology can still expect to earn a six-figure salary. If you’re passionate about teaching the next generation of physicians just like you, the academic route can offer you a comfortable salary and help you chase your passion.

Keep Reading; How to Start Your Own Medical Practice

Protecting Your Career: Malpractice Insurance

So far, we’ve talked mostly about what to expect to receive in terms of salary throughout your diagnostic radiology career as well as strategies you can leverage in order to boost your earning potential. But while all this is crucial, it’s all for nothing if your career isn’t protected.

One of the most important aspects of career preservation as a diagnostic radiologist is malpractice insurance. Malpractice insurance is a necessity like car insurance. Even if you believe the risk of being sued for negligence or issues caused by misdiagnoses is rare, you don’t want to bet your salary that it will never happen.

That being said, there are multiple considerations that will need to be made as you’re shopping around for malpractice insurance or understanding the options offered by your employer. The two key considerations we’ll mention here are choosing between claims-made and occurrence-based coverage as well as whether or not you’ll need tail insurance, which is heavily dependent upon the type of coverage you choose.

Claims-Made Insurance

Claims-made insurance only offers coverage for lawsuits in the event that the provider was insuring you both at the time of the alleged malpractice and at the time the lawsuit was filed. If you were insured by one carrier during the alleged malpractice but switched before you were sued, you won’t be covered. That is unless you have tail insurance, which is highly recommended if you wish to protect yourself in the event that you do change providers.

Occurrence-based Coverage

On the other hand, occurrence-based insurance will cover any alleged malpractice event as long as the insurance provider offering the insurance was the one you had during the incident, even if you switched to a new provider before the time the lawsuit was filed.

Properly covering yourself is essential to preserving your career and ultimately your wealth. Do your research to understand your options so you don’t pay for coverage that ends up costing you money rather than helping you protect it.

Read our Provider Review: CM&F Malpractice Insurance

Diagnostic Radiology Retirement Planning

Moving onto wealth building, there’s a wide range of retirement accounts that you can take advantage of, including employee-offered, non-employee-offered, and even outside opportunities that everyone should be investing in. Let’s take a quick look at the breakdown of these.

Traditional 401(k) Plans

  • Most common retirement plan, typically offered by employers.
  • Allows pre-tax contributions; taxed upon withdrawal.
  • You can invest money in various assets to grow.
  • Withdrawals are penalized if made before age 59 ½.
  • Employer match may be offered.

Solo 401(k) Plans

  • For self-employed individuals with no other employees (spouses exempted).
  • Similar to traditional 401(k) in contribution and withdrawal rules.

Profit-Sharing Plans

  • Employer decides contribution amounts, either cash or stock shares.
  • Employees can’t contribute directly.
  • Often paired with traditional 401(k) plans.

Cash Balance Plans

  • Similar to defined benefit plans.
  • Employer guarantees specific retirement amount.
  • Employer assumes investment risk.

403(b) Plans

  • Offered to employees of non-profits, hospitals, and governments.
  • Similar to 401(k) but potentially higher employer matching due to tax savings.

457(b) Plans

  • Another non-profit sector retirement plan.
  • No 10% penalty for early withdrawal.

401(a) Plans (Money Purchase Plan)

  • Offered to non-profit employees.
  • Requires employer contributions; might require mandatory employee contributions.


  • Risky, but long-term investments usually yield profit, with an average return of 10% annually.
  • Various investment strategies to take advantage of.

Mutual Funds

  • Mutual funds allow for investment in multiple stocks simultaneously for diversified portfolio.
  • Money pooled together from various clients and managed by professional investment firms.


  • Bonds generally safer than stocks due to obligation to repay investors (but limited earning potential)
  • Bond values inversely related to interest rates: if interest rates increase, bond values decrease and vice versa.
  • Numerous bond types to choose from, including corporate bonds, junk bonds, U.S. Treasury bonds, etc.

Contract Negotiations

Contract negotiations are crucial to getting the terms and salary that you deserve as a diagnostic radiologist. Fortunately, we here at Physician’s Thrive are experts in the contract negotiation process and supporting individuals who are considering signing contracts. Here are some of the key points of contract negotiations that we emphasize.

Taking the Process Slow

  • Most medical employers anticipate negotiation.
  • Embrace negotiation; it’s an opportunity for better terms.
  • Don’t hurry. Take your time to understand all the terms. While some demands might decline, negotiation involves mutual agreement.
  • The fear of losing an offer due to negotiation is largely unfounded. Rescinding offers is rare and unprofessional.

Contract Negotiation Steps

  • Employer’s Initial Contract: Don’t sign immediately. Employers expect negotiations.
  • Your Counter-Proposal: Respond with your terms based on your qualifications and needs. Discussing changes through a conversation can be more effective than just an email.
  • Revised Contract From Employer: This may accept or reject your terms.
  • Further Negotiation or Acceptance: Balance between being assertive and not overly aggressive.

Negotiation Points

  • All elements are negotiable.
  • First, negotiate terms, then compensation.
  • Factors like base salary, incentive-based models, student loan repayment, on-call pay, and other benefits can influence compensation.
  • Make sure you retain the rights to other income sources like published work, lectures, etc.

Specific Areas of Focus

  • Conditions of Employment: Discuss working hours, hospital duties, office tasks, and support staff.
  • Termination and Coterminous Clauses: Understand how termination works and what rights remain post-contract.
  • Restrictive Covenants: Some contracts prevent physicians from opening competing practices. Review clause lengths and exceptions.
  • Code of Conduct: Understand ethical guidelines and consequences for violations.
  • Locum Tenens: Allows physicians to gain varied experiences. Check if your contract has terms for this.

It’s also extremely important to have a lawyer on your side who can help you fully understand all of the terms of your contract and offer essential contract negotiation benefits like compensation audits, quick turnarounds, and 24/7 support. An experienced lawyer can make all the difference in how the emplyer compensats you and what benefits they offer you when working with an institution.

Read this truth: The Myth that Contracts Aren’t Negotiable

Disability Insurance and You

Another form of insurance worth touching upon is disability insurance. All specialists in diagnostic radiology should rely on their own disability insurance if they wish to protect their salary in times of illness or severe injury that puts them out of work.

Take the time to understand your options, especially when it comes to group and individual insurance policies. Employers often sponsor group insurance plans, which is why they’re so popular (alongside perks like lower rates). However, they will typically exclude disabilities, require you to pay taxes, don’t remain with you when you leave your job, and can be rather restrictive overall. Individual plans are generally the best option for most physicians. They cost a bit more, but they’re tax-free, accompany you regardless of your employment status or location, and provide more comprehensive coverage that you won’t receive through your employer.

Read this: The Big 6 Insurance Companies

Wrapping it Up

There’s a lot to consider when you’re pursuing a career as a diagnostic radiologist, whether it’s your salary or things like malpractice and disability insurance. Having the knowledge base you need to understand what to expect moving forward and how to strategize when it comes to retirement planning and investing can help you make everything a little less difficult. This guide offers you all the tips and tricks to not only find the right location where you can secure proper compensation but also to negotiate contracts and leverage your strengths to your advantage for better pay.


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