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Why choose a career in Radiation Oncology?

Why choose a career in Radiation Oncology

Your choice to help saves lives

Radiation Oncology is an inspiring, rewarding and exciting field with a range of opportunities in the public and private areas. It combines the best areas of care for patients of all ages, with challenging and continually changing treatment. The daily work can be interesting and motivating.

There is an ongoing requirement for professionals in Radiation Oncology as the need for cancer treatment in the population increases. Radiation Oncology is an area with good job prospects. Work hours are regular and there is the added flexibility to travel and work overseas.

Working in Radiation Oncology requires excellent communication and teamwork skills. Daily interaction with patients who may be feeling ill or weak requires the ability to form respectful and trusting relationships with both adult and child patients and their families to ensure a joint approach to the patient’s treatment.

A Radiation Oncology professional will generally have:

  • An interest and ability for sciences – biology and/or physics
  • An interest in healthcare
  • Logical thinking
  • Problem solving skills
  • Good communication skills
  • A focus on patient care in both children and adults
  • Enjoy working in a teamwork environment
  • An interest in using state of the art technology

Job Description

A radiation oncologist is a medical doctor who has special training in management of patients with cancer, in particular involving the use of radiotherapy, as one area of their cancer treatment.

They also have expertise in the treatment of noncancerous conditions using radiotherapy. Radiation oncologists are responsible for monitoring the patient and organising imaging and other tests, in order to create and action a management plan for a patient.

Radiation oncologists work closely with other medical specialists, especially surgeons, medical oncologists and palliative care physicians, as part of a team caring for patients with cancer. Radiation oncologists also work closely with radiation oncology medical physicists and radiation therapists to plan and deliver radiotherapy.

Radiation oncologists have an important role in communicating with patients, their family members and other carers in the management of the patient’s cancer and overall care.

Radiation oncologists have overall responsibly for determining and setting the most suitable amount of radiation (from high energy X-rays, electron beams or gamma rays) to deliver to a patient and the way that this will be carried out.

Educations and Training

High School:

Interest in mathematics, physics and biology

University study required and professional entry to the profession:

Professional entry as a radiation oncologist in Australia involves the following;

  • Completion of a degree in medicine
  • Completion of at least two years of general medical intern/resident terms in the hospital setting
  • Completion of the five year specialist training program for Radiation Oncology


All students and qualified professionals will be registered with the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency(AHPRA). All require a Radiation Use Licence from their local radiation health department.

Check with the Universities Admissions Centre for each university’s entry prerequisites.

Working Conditions and Salary Range

Radiation oncologists can work in either public or private practice. Salaries vary from State to State as Health is a State concern and not a Federal jurisdiction. The starting salary for a registrar is approximately $80,000. The starting salary for a qualified radiation oncologist is approximately $185,000 although there is significant variability across Australia. Further details regarding salary are negotiable with individual departments and practices.

Where can I work?

In Australia, Radiation Oncology departments are found in major public hospitals, some private hospitals or private oncology clinics. Most departments are found in capital cities or larger regional and rural locations. Radiotherapy is usually given as an outpatient treatment which means that patients will visit each day just for the radiotherapy treatment.