Diagnostic Radiologist Kaimātai Tātari Hihi Irirangi

Diagnostic radiologists diagnose diseases of the human body using x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine and radioactive solutions.

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Diagnostic radiologists need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Diagnostic radiologists may do some or all of the following:

  • advise doctors on the best examination to perform on a patient
  • explain examination procedures to patients and discuss the results with them 
  • supervise medical radiation technologists when they perform examinations
  • interpret images from radiographic examinations
  • perform biopsies (taking tissue for diagnosis) from areas such as breasts, liver and kidneys 
  • teach medical students and trainee radiologists
  • carry out research.

Physical Requirements

Diagnostic radiologists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and excellent hand-eye co-ordination.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for diagnostic radiologists includes:

  • work as a medical radiation technologist
  • work in hospitals or other health-related work, such as nursing
  • work caring for people.

Personal Qualities

Diagnostic radiologists need to be:

  • accurate and careful, with an eye for detail
  • motivated and disciplined
  • able to work well under pressure
  • able to make good decisions, and solve problems
  • excellent at analysis and interpretation
  • good at communicating and inspiring confidence in others
  • good at report writing
  • understanding of other cultures' attitudes to medical procedures.


Diagnostic radiologists need to have knowledge of:

  • anatomy and how the human body works
  • different diseases and illnesses
  • medicines and treatments, and the effect these have on patients
  • how to do minor surgical procedures, such as putting in stitches
  • radiographic theory and methods, and the safe handling of unsealed radioactive sources
  • research, treatments and practices
  • medical ethics and law.


Diagnostic radiologists:

  • usually work 40 to 60 hours a week, which may include on-call work during evenings, nights and weekends
  • work in hospitals, clinics and private practices, using x-rays, chemicals and radioactive materials
  • may travel nationally or overseas for conferences and seminars.

Diagnostic Radiologists can earn around $81K-$197K per year.

Chances of getting a job as a Diagnostic Radiologist are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

Pay for diagnostic radiologists varies depending on experience, hours, location and frequency of on-call or emergency cover.

  • Trainee diagnostic radiologists (registrars) working for a district health board usually earn between $81,000 and $197,000 a year.
  • Qualified diagnostic radiologists working for a district health board usually earn between $164,000 and $244,000.
  • Diagnostic radiologists working in the private sector can earn more than this. 

Sources: Association of Salaried Medical Specialists (ASMS), 'New Zealand District Health Boards Senior Medical and Dental Officers Collective Agreement, 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021', 2022; and Resident Doctors' Association, 'RDA and 20 District Health Boards Multi Employer Collective Agreement 17 March 2021 to 31 March 2024', 2022.

Diagnostic radiologists may progress to teach students and trainee diagnostic radiologists. They can also become a senior consultant with responsibility for their department, or combine their duties with research or teaching.

Diagnostic radiologists may also specialise in an area such as:

Cardiovascular Radiologist
Cardiovascular radiologists specialise in heart and blood vessel imaging.
Mammographers specialise in breast imaging.
Musculoskeletal Radiologist
Musculoskeletal radiologists specialise in imaging muscles and bones.
Neuroradiologists specialise in brain imaging.
Paediatric Radiologist
Paediatric radiologists specialise in imaging for children and babies.

Years Of Training

13 years of training required.

To become a diagnostic radiologist you need to:

  • complete the Health Sciences First Year programme at Otago University, or the first year of either the Bachelor of Health Sciences or Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science at Auckland University
  • complete a five-year Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree at Otago or Auckland University
  • work for two years as a house officer (supervised junior doctor) in a hospital
  • complete another six years as a registrar with specialist training and examinations to become a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists.

You also need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Diagnostic Radiologist