Radiographer job profile

What does a radiographer do?

Radiography is the use of radiation to treat injured and ill patients. Radiographers also aid in the diagnosis of patients through capturing images of bones, organs and human tissue. They are specially trained to use imaging equipment to assist other medical professionals when treating patients. You may be working with X-rays, CT scans, MRIs or ultrasounds in a variety of high-stress places, from operating theatres to accident and emergency rooms.

Types of radiography

Radiographers do much more than operate X-ray machines. There are two main areas of radiography you can progress to, depending on your interests and skillset, including:

  • Diagnostic radiography - using radiation, such as X-ray and ultrasound machines, to diagnose a patient’s illness or injury.
  • Therapeutic radiography - using radiation to treat an injury or illness, such as cancer.

Duties of a radiographer

The typical responsibilities of a radiographer include:

  • diagnosing patients with injuries and illnesses
  • choosing a treatment plan for your patients
  • using your expert knowledge to explain diagnoses to patients
  • offering support and care to patients undergoing treatment
  • being responsible for all radiation safety and checking equipment for any malfunctions
  • supervising a team of radiography and imaging assistants
  • staying up to date with the latest industry developments and technology
  • being caring and compassionate to patients.

Radiographer working environment and hours

Radiographers generally work around 37.5 hours a week. Therapeutic radiographers’ work is based around patient appointments, so this role is more likely to take place in the daytime. However, diagnostic radiographers will often work shifts on nights and weekends. You will typically work in a hospital or private clinic, but could be based anywhere from accident and emergency rooms dealing with traumas, to cancer treatment wards.

Due to the nature of the work, you will be exposed to radiation on a daily basis. Radiographers protect themselves by wearing specialist safety gear, including an apron made of protective material.

Key skills

As well as the necessary level of education and scientific background needed for a career in radiography, you will need the following skills:

Attention to detail

Your role will be based on developing complex treatment plans for your patients, as well as working hard to form a diagnosis. An attention to detail is crucial to your career development, whether you work as a therapeutic or diagnostic radiographer.

Technical knowledge

You will be responsible for the use and upkeep of a range of highly technical equipment. It will be your duty to ensure these are in correct working order, as well as being confident using these machines to treat patients.

Communication skills

Patients undergoing radiation treatment or needing a radiation diagnosis may be anxious about their situation. You will use your technical and medical knowledge to explain their treatment plan to them, so good communication and interpersonal skills are key for people to understand their options.

Problem solving

A major part of being a radiographer is diagnosing patients and creating treatments plans, so being a good problem solver is essential to the role.

Teamwork

Radiographers use their skillset to support many other teams in a hospital. Ensuring you can share your knowledge with others to provide the best level of care to your patients will make your job all the more rewarding.

Understanding and compassion

Working as a radiographer means you may be treating patients suffering from diseases such as cancer. This can be an emotional time for your patients and their families, so demonstrating a level of compassion will help you in your daily role.

Salary

How much does a radiographer earn?

A newly qualified radiographer working for the National Health Service is likely to earn between £23,023 to £29,608. An experienced radiographer could earn around £36,644. By working as a consultant, you could earn up to £71,243.

Qualifications to be a radiographer

To fully qualify as a radiographer, you also must register with the Health & Care Professions Council (HPCP) and complete a HCPC-approved university degree. You can study either an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Either of these options will give you the opportunity to undertake a clinical placement and gain work experience.

You can also become a qualified radiographer by choosing to work as an assistant practitioner and studying either a foundation programme or Diploma of Higher Education.

Find more information on how to become a radiographer here.

Radiography pathways for international students

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How to become a radiographer

A radiography room in a hospital

Find out more about how to become a radiographer, including the exact qualifications you need to practice radiography in the United Kingdom.

Radiographer career path

There are many options to progress within a career in radiography. After receiving your degree, you will usually work under a mentor as you learn more about the procedures used in your workplace. After completing this period, you will be expected to keep up to date with any developments in your industry.

After achieving our accredited degree, you can join the Society of Radiographers. To do this, you will complete CPD (continuing professional development) every year.

The more time you spend working, you will be able to find the areas which appeal to you the most. You could focus more on treatment planning, end of life care or even clinical research opportunities. There are also specialisms related to the type of patients you treat including cancer or stroke patients, the elderly, or children.