Radiology ranks among top 5 highest paid specialties, averaging $427K per year

Radiologists take home an average yearly salary of $427,000, placing them among the top-five highest-paid specialists, according to a new salary survey from Medscape. That figure is nearly 2% higher compared to last year’s report.

Medscape queried 17,000 physicians as part of its 2020 compensation report, and more than 500 included radiologists practicing in the U.S. Imaging professionals earn far more than the average specialist, who makes $346,000 per year, as well as the average primary care physician, who takes home $243,000.

Physician salaries across the board were largely on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, climbing 2.5% compared to 2019. Specialists’ salaries also increased by 1.5% from last year. The report authors noted that responses were collected prior to Feb. 10 of this year, before the crisis began to take hold in the U.S.

The health news outlet did report that 43,000 healthcare workers were laid off this past March. Practices also say revenue has dropped by 55% and patient volume has fallen by 60% since the new virus emerged.

One expert says specialists are feeling the squeeze right now, due to their dependence on elective cases, but noted that COVID infections are leveling off and organizations are beginning to look toward the future.

“Hospitals and practices were in panic mode and were focusing on the here and now,” said David N. Gans, senior fellow at the Medical Group Management Association. “Now COVID-19 rates are stabilizing, and hospitals and practices are deciding how they will get back to business.”

Looking back on pre-virus numbers, however, radiology ranks within the top five specialties for average incentive bonuses. At $77,000, imaging ranks just above urology ($64,000) and slightly behind ophthalmology ($85,000). Overall, physicians earn nearly two-thirds of their potential bonus, according to the report.

The specialty still has some work to do to bring more women into the fold. Only 21% of radiologists are women—the same as last year’s survey—ranking just outside the bottom five. Pulmonary medicine, cardiology, plastic surgery, orthopedics, and urology rounded out the bottom. Overall, however, more women are becoming specialists, particularly in OB-GYN, pediatrics, and rheumatology.

All in all, radiologists appear to be happier than ever before with their compensation. Nearly 70% of radiologists claim they feel fairly paid, compared to 53% who said the same thing five years ago.