How do I become a radiographer?

If you like the idea of a varied job that lets you work closely with patients, technology and a large medical team, then it’s time to consider the practicalities.

Students graduating

It’s important to explore both disciplines – diagnostic and therapeutic – before deciding which to study. Some departments and centres hold open days for members of the public who would like to be shown round. Why not contact your local hospital's imaging or radiotherapy department to find out whether any open days are scheduled, or whether they'd allow you to visit on another day? It's a great way to get a ‘feel’ for the environment. Ask to speak to the Practice Educator or the radiographer who works with students.

Many universities require you to have visited an imaging or radiotherapy department before they will accept you onto the programme. If you’re having difficulty arranging an observational visit, your chosen universities should be able to help. Contact the diagnostic or therapeutic radiography admissions tutors directly and ask for their help.

Meet tomorrow's radiographers

Your questions answered

Study is at degree level and full-time only. Most courses are BSc (Hons) which are three years in length, four in Scotland. You will spend around half of your time working on clinical placement. This means you’ll be learning by working in a real hospital department, with real patients!

Each university course varies but core subjects include communication skills, oncology or digital imaging, anatomy, treatment or imaging techniques, radiation physics and research methods.

Applications for undergraduate (BSc (Hons) courses are through UCAS. To find out more about what’s on offer, check out the courses available at the universities that interest you.

Also, feel free to contact the university if you've got more questions – they’ll be only too pleased to help you.

If you've already got a BSc (Hons) in a scientific or healthcare related subject you may be able to do a PgD or MSc course which could take two or three years. Check your universities' websites for details of postgraduate courses.

There are also opportunities to travel abroad to broaden your horizons and develop your skills even further. Some universities offer the Erasmus international exchange programme. Ask the university admissions tutor for more about this.

A number of organisations that offer ‘elective placements’, providing students with unforgettable healthcare and cultural experiences abroad. To find out more, visit Work the World and Global Medical Placements.

It depends where you want to study. 

Your chosen university will have details about tuition fees on their website. You could also contact the admissions department for more details.

Universities set their own entry requirements so it's best to look on their websites to find out more about this. The general requirements are usually 240 to 300 UCAS tariff points, good maths and English GCSE/standard grade passes and A levels/highers or equivalent in science subjects.

If you don’t have the standard entry qualifications, universities will often look at your educational achievements and experience to see if they can offer you a place. If you don't have the relevant science background, there is the option of taking an access course. Access to higher education courses are flexible programmes for adult learners (19+) who do not have the traditional qualifications required to study at degree level. Science access courses are preferable to healthcare ones. A full list of courses in England and Wales can be found on the Access to Higher Education website, or here for Scotland.

Some radiographers access the profession via the assistant practitioner route. The role of assistant practitioner was introduced to allow career progression opportunities for the support workforce in clinical imaging and radiotherapy services.

Assistant practitioners are able to undertake a course of study towards the Foundation Degree in Radiography or equivalent qualification. Further information can be found here.

CASE STUDY Find out how Gavin progressed from assistant to advanced practitioner in less than 10 years.

Students from within the EU are generally not required to pay tuition fees in the UK. Students from outside the EU are required to pay tuition fees, as well as additional contributions for practice placement.

To be sure, visit your chosen university's website and take a look at the NHS Student Bursaries website which contains a useful booklet.

For more information on studying radiography in the UK, contact the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

To work as a radiographer in the UK, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. The HCPC will consider each case individually, looking at the length and level of the training leading to qualification and the experience you have gained working as a radiographer overseas.

CASE STUDY Find out how Sylvia has progressed her career since arriving in the UK 15 years ago.

The Department of Health provides information for overseas applicants who wish to work in the National Health Service (NHS).

UK radiography jobs are advertised on the Society of Radiographers’ website. Radiography jobs within the NHS are advertised here.

If you are considering returning to radiography after a break, you are likely to need to undertake some further training or study first, depending on how long you have been out of the profession. To work as a radiographer in the UK you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

CASE STUDY Find out how Laura returned to radiography after seven years out of the profession.

Check the HCPC's website for information on registration renewal or visit the Society of Radiographers website.