How to become a radiographer
What is a radiographer?
Radiographers are an essential part of a working hospital environment. If you want to contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of patients, this may be the job for you. There are two types of radiography careers for you to choose from: therapeutic radiography and diagnostic radiography. Radiographers use cutting edge technology such as X-rays, CT scans and MRI machines to help their patients.
Radiographers combine medical knowledge, patient care and technical skills in their daily responsibilities. You could be working in a hospital or private practice, or in a clinic or emergency room. You can even choose to progress in one area and have your own speciality.
Should I become a radiographer?
The work done by radiographers is a key part of the diagnosis and treatment of patients in a hospital. To be a radiographer, you must be able to effectively work as part of a team and communicate your expertise not only to other medical professionals, but to patients and their families. As with other medical careers, a high level of patient care is required, so an empathetic nature is highly valued.
A career in radiography involves:
- Multiple career progression opportunities
- A good salary, based on your level of experience
- Job satisfaction
Steps to become a radiographer
To become a qualified radiographer, you should start with an A Level or foundation course before following of the below path.
1. A Levels or equivalent
To study an undergraduate degree, you will usually need at least three A Levels, achieving a minimum of BBB. Good subject choices include Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Some universities will also need you to have five to seven GCSEs (grades A-C), including English Language, Maths and at least one science. UK universities also have an English language requirement for international students. You will need to achieve IELTS 7.0, with no component below 6.5.
2. Bachelors degree
The best way to develop the skills you need to become a radiographer in the UK is to study an undergraduate degree at a British university. To practice radiography once you graduate, you will need to make sure that your degree programme is accredited by the Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC). An undergraduate degree in radiography consists of three years of full-time study, or four years in Scotland.
3. Masters degree
If you already have an undergraduate degree in a relevant healthcare or science subject, you can study an accelerated postgraduate programme. This can help you to become a qualified radiographer within two years.
4. Work experience
Your undergraduate or postgraduate radiography degree will include a mix of traditional university learning styles, such as lectures and seminars, as well as practical experience. Practical learning is a great way to put into practice what you learn inside the classroom, so you become more confident in your work as a radiographer.
You can also take advantage of volunteering opportunities. If you decide to study in the UK, you can find advice on volunteering opportunities with the National Health Service.
How long does it take to become a radiographer?
- Bachelors degree – 3 to 4 years
- Masters degree (for those with a relevant bachelors degree) – 2 years
You can then register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and start working as a radiographer.
Radiographer job profile
Understand the day-to-day responsibilities of a radiographer and discover if a career in radiography is for you.
To start your journey to a career in radiography, you should study at least three A Level subjects – such as Biology, Chemistry, Maths or Physics.
A respectable alternative to A Levels, achieving at least 70% in a science-related foundation programme can help you get to a top-ranking university.
Career progression opportunities for radiographers
What can I do with a radiography degree?
There are many different specialisms you can work in after gaining a degree in radiography, including:
- Computerised tomography (CT) scanning
- Interventional radiography
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Accident and emergency
As you develop your career, you can find the parts of the job that are the most rewarding to you. This can include working specifically with cancer and stroke patients, or treating a specific age group, such as children or the elderly.
You also have the option to progress into management or consultancy roles, as well as going into research or teaching.