Radiation Oncologist Kaimātai Mate Pukupuku

Radiation oncologists provide radiation treatment and management of patients with cancer and other medical conditions.

Radiation oncologists need to be registered with the Medical Council of New Zealand.

Radiation oncologists may do some or all of the following:

  • talk to patients about their symptoms and illnesses, and examine them
  • study x-rays, images and medical reports
  • discuss various treatment options with patients and their families
  • plan how to manage the patient's illness
  • treat the patient using radiation therapy
  • monitor, support and care for patients during and after treatment
  • write reports on the treatment of patients for general practitioners and other medical specialists
  • teach trainee radiation oncologists
  • carry out research.

Physical Requirements

Radiation oncologists need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses).

Useful Experience

Useful experience for radiation oncologists includes:

  • work in hospitals or other health-related work, such as in a clinic
  • work caring for people.

Personal Qualities

Radiation oncologists need to be:

  • able to make good decisions, and solve problems
  • excellent at analysis and interpretation
  • good at managing time
  • motivated and disciplined
  • able to work well under pressure
  • good at communicating and inspiring confidence in others
  • understanding of other cultures' attitudes to medical treatment.


Radiation oncologists need to have knowledge of:

  • cancer and how to treat it
  • anatomy and how the human body works
  • different diseases and illnesses
  • radiation treatments, and how these affect patients
  • new research, treatments and practices
  • medical ethics and law.


Radiation oncologists:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may work long hours and be on call
  • work in hospitals, clinics and private practices
  • work in conditions that may be stressful, as they deal with seriously ill patients
  • travel to conferences locally or overseas.

Radiation Oncologists can earn around $81K-$197K per year.

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

  • Trainee radiation oncologists (registrars) working for Te Whatu Ora (previously DHBs) usually earn between $81,000 and $192,000 a year. In 2023 this will increase to between $86,000 and $197,000.
  • Qualified radiation oncologists working for Te Whatu Ora can earn between $164,000 and $244,000.
  • Radiation oncologists working in the private sector may 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';   Resident Doctors' Association, 'RDA and 20 District Health Boards Multi Employer Collective Agreement 17 March 2021 to 31 March 2024'.


Radiation oncologists may progress to jobs in areas such as:

  • teaching trainee radiation oncologists
  • clinical director roles
  • research.

Years Of Training

13 years of training required.

To become a radiation oncologist 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 five 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.

Radiation Oncologist