If you are considering a career in healthcare, you are likely motivated by a strong desire to help people as well as to be a part of a dynamic and evolving field. At the same time, it is also important to consider the financial aspect of your chosen profession – after all, your remuneration will determine your lifestyle for many years in the future. Whether you want to be a pediatrician or a radiologist, you must know all the facts so that you can make an informed decision.
If you are attracted by the prospect of harnessing the power of technology to identify diseases and improve patient health, then becoming a radiologist might be your dream. Radiologists utilize medical imaging technology and radioactivity to diagnose illness and treat patients. Their professional responsibilities include the following: obtain quality medical images, examine these to pinpoint medical problems, record patient data, prescribe medicines, and conduct radiation therapy. Radiologists are among the few doctors who do not interact much with patients; rather, their focus is on staying up to date with the technology in their field. Becoming a radiologist requires aspirants to spend approximately 13 years in higher education and training. After high school, students need to earn an undergraduate degree followed by four years in medical school. The next steps are internship and clinical residency.
Radiology is one of the highest paid medical professions, so the many years spent achieving this professional will pay off once you start earning. On average, a radiologist in the US makes about USD 350,000 a year. This comes with a busy work schedule, with radiologists often working 48-53 hours a week and being at work at erratic times. Those with a sub-specialty like radiation oncology or ultrasonography can get higher salaries. According to some sources, those who practiced interventional radiology earned a median salary of USD 492,102 in 2011 while non-interventional radiologists earned USD 461,250. Radiology is a growing field and jobs are expected to rise by 24 percent between 2010 and 2020.
Pediatricians, on the other hand, are medical doctors who focus on working with children, including preventing, diagnosing, and treating illness. Their duties include performing general checkups, administering vaccines, prescribing medicines, counseling families, and providing emergency care if required. Aspiring pediatricians should consider the various aspects of the profession – responsibilities, education, training, and future prospects – before making a decision. Like radiologists, becoming a pediatrician requires many years of study and training. After earning your high school diploma, you will need to complete an undergraduate degree program and medical school. This must be followed by three years in pediatric residency. Fellowship subspecialties generally take another three years, bringing the total training period to 13 years.
Like radiology, however, pediatrics is a well-paying field. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of a general pediatrician in 2012 was USD 155,000, while Medscape’s Pediatrician Compensation Report from 2013 places the figure at USD 173,000. Salaries differ by state and industry. The highest paying states for pediatricians include Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Nebraska, while the best paying industries include outpatient care and offices of other health practitioners. Those with subspecialties earn more, up to USD 395,000 a year as per some sources. Keep in mind that many pediatricians work in private physicians’ offices and have long working hours.