Clinical technologists calibrate, maintain, monitor and operate the complex equipment used in hospitals to diagnose and treat patients. Many clinical technologists have direct contact with patients.
Also known as
- Biomedical Engineer
- Physics Technician, Medical
- Medical Technologist
- Medical Physics Technician
- Medical Technical Officer - Medical Physics
- Medical Technical Officer - Clinical Engineering
As a Clinical Technologist, you will work either in engineering technology or clinical physics technology. You'll make sure that the very wide range of equipment used to diagnose and treat patients works properly and safely.
You will work in a team alongside Doctors, Medical Physicists, Pharmacists and Nurses. Your work can involve direct contact with patients.
Engineering Technologists work in:
- medical electronics, where you are responsible for the safety and correct use of medical equipment
- radiotherapy engineering - supporting equipment used in the treatment of cancer
- renal engineering, which is to do with equipment used in kidney dialysis
- rehabilitation engineering, where you assess, adapt, provide and manage aids that enable disabled people to live their lives to the full
Clinical Physics Technologists work in:
- Nuclear medicine, using radioisotopes to diagnose and treat disease. For example, you use gamma cameras to produce images from within the body
- Radiotherapy physics. A vital member of the team is a Dosimetrist, who calculates the dose needed for radiotherapy and targets it at the relevant organs. Some Clinical Technologists, working with other staff, operate the machines used to treat cancer
- ionising and non-ionising radiation, where you have the vital job of making sure that people's exposure to radiation remains in safe limits
- vascular technology, for example, studying the flow of blood around the body
There are other opportunities, for example, for Critical Care Technologists who make sure that equipment used in intensive and coronary (heart) care units is correctly set up.
Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.
Personal Qualities and Skills
To become a Clinical Technologist, you will need:
- an interest in science, technology and health
- attention to detail
- teamwork and communication skills to work with other healthcare professionals; you will sometimes have contact with patients
- sympathy and the ability to reassure anxious patients
Pay and Opportunities
NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities. The pay rates given below are from the official Agenda for Change salary range.
- Starting - Band 6: £30,401 - £37,267
- With experience - Band 7: £37,570 - £43,772
- Senior Clinical Technologists - Band 9: £89,537 - £103,860
Hours of work
Clinical Technologists usually work 37 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Some need to work shifts on a rota basis.
Where could I work?
Employers include the NHS, private hospitals and the armed forces.
Opportunities for Clinical Technologists occur in hospitals in towns and cities throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised on the NHS Jobs website, in local/national newspapers and on job boards.
Entry Routes and Training
Entry routes and training
To become a Clinical Technologist, there are two possible entry routes. The Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) involves a BSc degree in healthcare science (clinical engineering).
The degree combines academic learning and workplace-based training. It includes 50 weeks of work-based training in the NHS over the three years of the course. In the first two years, you'd have broad scientific training, with specialisation beginning in the second or third years. When choosing a course, you must make sure that it is approved and accredited to meet the requirements of the PTP. You would apply for these healthcare science degrees through UCAS.
Entry to this career is also possible through the graduate-entry Scientist Training Programme (STP). For this, you'll usually need at least a 2:1 in a science degree subject that's relevant to clinical technology (each NHS Trust that advertises vacancies decides which subjects are relevant but they could include physics, engineering and maths). Entry might be possible with a 2:2 if you also have a relevant postgraduate qualification. You'll be employed by an NHS Trust throughout your training and work towards an accredited master's degree.
For some specialist areas of clinical technology, you'll need to enter through the STP because there are no opportunities to train in these areas through the PTP.
Clinical Technologists can progress to higher grades, with more decision-making and responsibility for managing and training other Clinical Technologists.
Previous experience working in a caring evironment such as in a care home or in a hospital would be really useful for this career.
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Posts that involve direct contact with patients are exceptions to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to.
This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.
To enter a degree course, you usually need:
- 3 A levels
- GCSEs at grade C/4 or above in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English and maths
Equivalent qualifications, such a BTEC level 3 qualifications and the International Baccalaureate Diploma are acceptable for entry.
Entry to the Scientist Training Programme is usually with a first (undergraduate) degree in a subject that is relevant to clinical technology.
It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.
If you don't have the qualifications you need to enter a degree course, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course, for example, Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, although you should check this with the course provider.
- 11% of people in occupations such as clinical technologist work part-time.
- 4% have flexible hours.
- 5% of employees work on a temporary basis.
Professional institutions have the following roles:
- To support their members.
- To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.
The Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine is the professional institution for clinical technologists.
Engineering technology news
NHS Wales Careers
Publisher: National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare
Step into the NHS
Tel: 0345 6060655
Skills for Health
Skills for the health sector
Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP
Tel: 0117 9221155
University of Ulster
Tel: 028 7012 3456
NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN
Tel: 0131 6563200
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Address: 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT
Tel: 020 7470 4800
Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)
Address: Fairmount House, 230 Tadcaster Road, York YO24 1ES
Tel: 01904 610821