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Job Photographs

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is standing next to a glass table, looking into a camera.  On the table there is a small piece of medical equipment.  She is photographing it.

    Taking a photograph of medical equipment in the studio.

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is standing and looking into a camera.  In front of her, a man is standing with his back facing the camera.  He is not wearing a top, and there are some pen markings on his back.

    Photographing a patient.

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is sitting at a desk, using a computer.  On the computer screen is the close-up image of an eye.

    Editing an image on the computer.

  • A woman, wearing a medical uniform, is sitting at a desk, using a computer.

    Viewing some of the photographs on a computer.

  • A woman, wearing a medical uniform, is placing a small piece of medical equipment onto a glass table.  She is wearing white, latex gloves.  A camera is around her neck.

    Setting up a shot featuring medical equipment.

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is sitting at a desk.  She is using a telephone.  There are also two computers on the desk.

    Answering a request to photograph a patient on a ward.

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is holding a camera.  She is standing next to a woman, and they are talking.  They are both looking at a small book.

    Discussing photographic needs with a healthcare professional.

  • A woman, wearing a blue surgical uniform, is sitting on a chair.  She is looking at the contents of a folder.

    Reading a journal to keep up to date with new technology.

Medical Photographer

Introduction

Medical photographers produce material for patient care, medical education and medical research. They photograph patients, specimens, operations and so on, for medical records. They also prepare visual aids such as slides and videos, which can be used for teaching and research purposes.

Also known as

  • Photographer, Medical
  • Clinical Photographer

Video: - Richard: Medical Photographer

Video: - Jaclyn: Senior Medical Photographer

Work Activities

Medical photographers work in clinical and surgical photography. In clinical photography, they take photos of patients' conditions and injuries. In surgical photography, they photograph and video-record surgical operations.

Their photos are used to help doctors diagnose conditions early and to help researchers and those involved in training medical staff.

Medical photographers make their photos and other diagrams, artwork and X-rays into slides for use in tutorials and lectures. It is often the responsibility of the photographer to check that copyright laws are followed when reproducing original work.

As well as surgical and clinical work, they may take photos for medical journals and books, and photos of special events that happen within the hospital.

Some medical photographers specialise in videography and closed-circuit television techniques.

Medical photographers are part of the healthcare team and work with doctors, nurses, other health professionals, medical illustrators and audio-visual technicians.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

As a medical photographer, you need:

  • An interest in science, medicine and photography.
  • An understanding of the human anatomy.
  • To cope with distressing situations, eg, you may have to photograph a post-mortem or someone who has been disfigured in an accident.
  • To communicate effectively with medical, nursing and research staff.
  • To keep up to date with changing technology.
  • To be very accurate in your work.
  • Knowledge of photography techniques.
  • Good organisational skills.
  • Knowledge of computer imaging software and digital technology.
  • To follow the same health and safety rules as other medical staff.

A driving licence is useful.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

Pay rates for medical photographers vary, depending on whether they are self-employed or employed and the type of employer.

NHS employees are paid on a rising scale within defined pay bands, according to their skills and responsibilities.

The pay rates given below are approximate.

Medical photographers in the NHS earn in the range of £16,000 - £19,000 a year, rising to £24,500 - £32,000 with experience. Higher salaries can be awarded to more experienced photographers.

Medical photographers may be paid an hourly rate. This can range from £7 to £15 per hour.

Bonuses may be awarded on top of a salary.

Incidents of unpaid work are high amongst photographers.

Hours of work

Working hours can vary. Some medical photographers work regular office hours, usually over a standard 37.5-hour week, Monday to Friday. Those who work in hospitals may be required to work shifts, which may include early starts, late finishes, and work at weekends and on public holidays.

What's happening in this work area?

Competition for photography posts is strong, as there are often more applicants than vacancies.

There is strong competition for freelance work.

Where could I work?

Medical photographers can be based in departments of medical illustration in hospitals, in medical schools, in private medicine and in research establishments.

Opportunities for medical photographers occur in large hospitals in towns and cities throughout the UK.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in the British Journal of Photography and on the website of the Institute of Medical Illustrators (IMI).

Vacancies are also advertised on all the major job boards, on Universal Jobmatch, and at Jobcentre Plus.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

To become a medical photographer, you'll need a degree in clinical photography. There is only one available in the UK. This is offered by the University of Westminster.

It may be possible to enter the career with a degree in a subject related to photography. If you go via this route, you will probably need a postgraduate certificate in clinical photography.

Relevant HNCs, foundation degrees and HNDs are available and can be used as routes into full degree courses.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is also great place to start.

Training

The Institute of Medical Illustrators (IMI) offers further training to support the continuing professional development (CPD) of medical photographers.

Postgraduate courses are available, and may be a requirement for some positions.

Progression

Photographers may be able to move to larger organisations or work overseas.

Many photographers become self-employed.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception 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.

Qualifications

To enter the degree in Clinical Photography available at the University of Westminster, you'll need at least:

  • 3 A levels. This should include Biology, and ideally Photography.
  • 5 GCSEs at A*-C, including a Grade B in Maths or a Science subject.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • A BTEC level 3 National Diploma in Art and Design.
  • An Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma

If you're entering via the International Baccalaureate Diploma, you'll need at least 26 points.

For entry to a relevant degree course, the usual requirement is:

  • 2/3 A levels. Some courses may ask for passes in Biology and Photography.
  • 4/5 GCSEs at grade C or above. You'll usually need English and Maths. Biology could also be useful.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • A BTEC level 3 National Diploma in Art and Design.
  • An Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma

For the International Baccalaureate Diploma, many courses will ask that you have Art at Higher level.

Many other qualifications are also accepted so check prospectuses for more details.

To enter a relevant HNC, HND or foundation degree, you will usually need:

  • 1/2 A levels. A pass in Art and/or Biology could be useful.
  • 4/5 GCSEs at grade C or above. Passes in English, Maths and Art may be required.

Alternatives to A levels include:

  • A BTEC level 3 National Diploma in Art and Design.
  • An Advanced Level Apprenticeship.
  • The International Baccalaureate Diploma

For the International Baccalaureate Diploma, many courses will ask that you have Art at Higher level.

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and Maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A-level.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

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.

Skills/experience

Entry to this occupation is very competitive. However, there are opportunities to train as a medical photographer if you have a suitable photographic qualification or relevant skills. A portfolio of photographic work is usually required.

Courses

Photography can be studied on a full- or part-time basis, or it can develop from a hobby. It is useful to update your skills by taking short courses in photographic techniques and methods such as those offered by City & Guilds.

If you don't have the qualifications needed to enter your chosen degree or HND course, a college or university Access course (eg, Access to Art and Design) could be the way in. No formal qualifications are usually required, but you should check individual course details.

They can lead to relevant degree/HND courses.

A full list of relevant qualifications is available on the Skillset website.

Universities and colleges of higher education (HE) will usually consider applications from candidates who don't meet their usual entry requirements, especially those with relevant experience. You should check the admissions policy of individual universities and HE colleges.

Distance learning

Relevant courses at various levels in photography are offered by a large number of centres, including the Open University, by distance learning.

Statistics

  • 55% of those in occupations such as medical photographer are self-employed.
  • 22% work part-time.
  • 5% have flexible hours.
  • 20% of employees work on a temporary basis.

Further Information

Professional institutionsProfessional institutions have the following roles:

  • To support their members.
  • To protect the public by keeping standards high in their professions.

For more information on the institution(s) relevant to this career, check out the contacts below.

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

Skills for Health

Skills for the health sector

Address: Goldsmiths House, Broad Plain, Bristol BS2 0JP

Tel: 0117 9221155

Email: office@skillsforhealth.org.uk

Website: www.skillsforhealth.org.uk

Open University (OU)

Tel: 0845 3006090

Website: www.open.ac.uk

Institute of Medical Illustrators (IMI)

Address: 12 Coldbath Square, London EC1R 5HL

Tel: 020 7837 2846

Email: info@imi.org.uk

Website: www.imi.org.uk

Association of Photographers (AOP)

Address: 21 Downham Road, London N1 5AA

Tel: 020 7739 6669

Email: info@aophoto.co.uk

Website: www.the-aop.org

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

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