Could I be a radiographer?

Caring for patients is at the heart of what radiographers do. Radiographers must be able to work and communicate with people of all ages and backgrounds. They must be compassionate and have empathy.

When you study to become a radiographer, you will develop your people skills in order to provide excellent patient care. You'll also learn a lot about anatomy, technology, disease and injuries. An interest in the sciences is essential.

Patient and Radiographer having a discussion

What makes a great radiographer?

Radiographers work very closely with patients so it’s important to enjoy meeting new people. A great radiographer is:

  • Caring and supportive and able to put patients at ease;
  • Calm under pressure (for example, dealing with medical emergencies);
  • Good at communicating and enjoys working as part of a team;
  • Confident working with leading-edge technology;
  • Adaptable and has the ability to learn new skills (radiography is constantly changing).

Radiography is a strictly regulated profession and all radiographers in the UK must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. This means they are required to meet certain standards in order to practice lawfully, safely and effectively.

Radiographers must also meet the standards of the Society of Radiographers' Code of Professional Conduct. The Code sets out the values and expectations required of radiographers. These values are respect, empowerment, empathy, trustworthiness, integrity and justice.

Your questions answered

What’s so good about a career in radiography?

Well, the life of a radiographer is never boring! By learning to become a radiographer you can develop an interesting and rewarding career that puts you at the centre of patient care.

Therapeutic radiographers get to know their patients particularly well because they see them regularly through their course of treatment and are often involved in post-treatment or follow-up stages of care.

Radiography is a very varied job and many diagnostic radiographers choose to specialise in certain areas, for example, ultrasound which uses high frequency sound waves to check a baby in the womb, or trauma/accident and emergency care.

Radiography allows you to work with people and technology! Radiographers use state-of-the-art equipment to deliver very short, or much longer episodes of patient care.

Radiographers work very closely with patients so it’s important to enjoy meeting new people. A great radiographer is:

  • Caring and supportive and able to put patients at ease;
  • Calm under pressure (for example, dealing with medical emergencies);
  • Good at communicating and enjoys working as part of a team;
  • Confident working with leading-edge technology;
  • Adaptable and has the ability to learn new skills (radiography is constantly changing).

Newly qualified radiographers start on a basic salary of around £22,000 per year. There’s plenty of scope for progression and radiographers at the highest level of clinical practice can earn up to £68,000.

Typical working hours are 37.5 hours a week but increasing numbers of services are provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week so shifts, weekends, bank holidays, nights and on-call working are required. As the NHS moves further towards a 24/7 service, shift patterns and weekend working will become normal practice for all radiographers.

About 90% of radiographers work in the National Health Service (NHS). Other radiographers work for independent providers – hospitals and clinics – and some in universities, teaching.

As well as working to support students, academic radiographers carry out the vast majority of radiography research.

Some radiographers move into industry, meaning they work for the companies who make and sell the equipment radiographers use.

Can I work abroad? Yes! A radiography degree qualification, approved by the Health and Care Professions Council, is recognised in a wide range of international locations which means you can find a job outside the UK.

Radiography is an evolving profession. An ageing population and increasing demands on the National Health Service (NHS) means that the need for radiographers is steadily growing. Radiographers trained in ultrasound – sonographers – are in particularly high demand because there are not enough qualified practitioners to fill the available jobs. There is also a significant national shortage of therapeutic radiographers.

Radiography can be quite a demanding job. Radiographers are on their feet for long periods of time and moving and lifting patients and equipment is quite physical.

Each hospital and university has its own policy for assessing health and special needs. Universities and employers are obliged to adhere to the Equality Act 2010. Please contact the admissions tutor at your chosen universities for further details about their health screening policy.