Radiologists' average base salary rises 4% to $387K

The average base salary for radiologists continues to grow, checking in at $387,000, up 4.3% from $371,000 in 2017/2018, according to a new report from Merritt Hawkins.

Radiologists’ average starting salary is in the middle of the pack in medicine, ranking 11th out of the 22 specialties included in the 2019 Review of Physician and Advanced Practitioner Recruiting Incentives. The 26th annual report is based off a sample of 3,131 permanent physician and advanced practitioner search assignments performed between April 2018 and March 2019.

While radiologists may not earn the starting salary of those at the top of the list—invasive cardiologists ($648,000) and orthopedic surgeons ($536,000)—it ranked as the fourth most requested physician search assignment for the second straight year. Family medicine, psychiatry and OB/GYN were the top three requested assignments.

Radiology’s popularity may be welcoming news after the specialty saw a significant drop due in part to the recession in 2007, alongside growth in domestic and offshore teleradiology, the report stated.

“Renewed demand for radiologists was inevitable, however, because imaging remains central to diagnostic and procedural work in today’s healthcare system, in which very little transpires without a picture,” the report read. “The importance of radiology is enhanced with each technological advance (including artificial intelligence) that makes imaging techniques more varied and effective.”

And demand is only expected to increase. Merritt Hawkins projected the demand for radiologists is projected to grow by 18% between 2013 and 2025.

“While demand remains strong for primary care physicians, specialists are increasingly needed to care for an older and sicker population,” said Travis Singleton, executive vice president of Merritt Hawkins, in a statement. “In some medical specialties, shortages are emerging that will pose a serious challenge to public health.”

That may become a harsh reality in radiology, where 53% of all diagnostic radiologists are 55 years old or older, compared to 42% of physicians overall.

“The shortage of medical specialists flies under the radar, but it is a serious public health concern that deserves more attention,” Singleton added.