Diagnostic radiographers use a range of equipment to produce high quality images of the body. These help to diagnose disease and injury. They use complex technologies, including X-rays, magnetism and ultrasound.
Also known as
- Radiographer, Diagnostic
Video: - Mark: Diagnostic Radiographer
As a Diagnostic Radiographer, you work mainly in hospital imaging departments. You provide a service to most departments within hospitals, including accident and emergency, surgery operating theatres and various wards.
You produce images by using a range of complex technologies, depending on the situation and type of investigation you need to do. Many types of equipment are computerised. You are responsible for the technical accuracy of the image.
For example, you use X-rays to examine bones and find objects that should not be in the body. By exposing a part of the patient's body to a carefully controlled X-ray dose, you can produce an image on film of the inside of that part of the body.
You use ultrasound to create images of some of the internal organs. This involves sending high frequency sound waves into the body and reflecting them back to a scanner that measures them. Diagnostic Radiographers also use ultrasound to collect information about unborn babies in the womb, for example.
Other techniques include computed tomography to create 3D images in cross-section slices, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to map different tissue types within the body.
You also use your knowledge and skills to interpret the images, also talking to other healthcare professionals. You work with specialist Doctors, known as Radiologists.
You make sure that the patient is exposed to the minimum amount of radiation necessary to produce a clear image. You also have to protect themselves and others from radiation while operating the equipment.
Diagnostic Radiographers use a range of techniques but they might specialise, for example, in MRI.
You can progress into management roles. You can also become Consultant Practitioners which allows you to reach a high level of clinical practice and remain in direct work with patients.
There are also opportunities in teaching and research.
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 Diagnostic Radiographer, you'll need:
- the ability to communicate with and relate to patients of all ages and backgrounds
- teamwork skills to work alongside other healthcare professionals
- the ability to reassure anxious patients
- to be confident and have the ability to work with complex technology
- a methodical approach, accuracy and attention to detail
- willingness to learn new skills and keep up to date with advances in technology
- an interest in science and technology, especially anatomy and physiology
- number skills, for example, to calculate X-ray film exposures
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 approximate.
- Starting - Band 5: £24,214 - £30,112
Hours of work
Radiographers usually work 37 hours a week. However, you usually take part in an 'on-call' rota. This involves working some weekends, evenings, nights and public holidays.
Where could I work?
The NHS and private healthcare companies employ most Diagnostic Radiographers. The armed forces employ some Diagnostic Radiographers, and there are opportunities to work in primary healthcare, in education as University Lecturers, and in industry, in training, sales or research.
Opportunities for Diagnostic Radiographers are widespread throughout the UK.
Where are vacancies advertised?
Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on the NHS Jobs website, on job boards and in professional journals.
Entry Routes and Training
Entry routes and training
To become a Diagnostic Radiographer, you usually need to do a degree in diagnostic radiography. This will enable you to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), an essential requirement for working as a Radiographer.
You would spend a significant part of the course in hospital imaging departments, getting to work with patients and qualified Radiographers as quickly as possible.
You can find a list of course providers on the website of the Society of Radiographers and the HCPC.
It's also possible to achieve registration through a postgraduate qualification.
To enter a pre-registration postgraduate course, you'll usually need a first degree in a relevant health, social care or science subject.
The Welsh Government funds the education and training for a range of health professional education courses, (details of the specific courses can be found at: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/undergraduate-education). To be eligible for a bursary you must commit to working in Wales following completion of your programme.
More information about the NHS Wales Bursary Scheme can be accessed on the Student awards Services website: http://www.nwssp.wales.nhs.uk/course-starts-on-or-after-1-september-20
A great way to get into this career is through an internship. Take a look at our information article '
Diagnostic Radiographers can go on to specialise in particular areas, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and take postgraduate qualifications.
Progression for Diagnostic Radiographers can be into teaching, research, management or quality assurance roles.
You can also become Consultant Practitioners. This allows you to reach a high level of clinical practice and remain in direct work with patients.
Cardiff and Bangor are the only two bursary funded courses remaining. If you would like any more information, contact Cardiff University for more details.
Previous experience in a customer care environment such as working in a hospital or a care home would be really useful for this career.
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.
To enter a degree course in diagnostic radiography, the usual minimum requirement is:
- 2/3 A levels, including at least one science subject
- GCSEs at grades A*- C or 9 - 4 in your A level subjects
- a further 2/3 GCSEs at grade C/4 and above, including English and maths
Equivalent qualifications, include:
- BTEC level 3 qualifications
- the International Baccalaureate Diploma
Please check prospectuses carefully.
Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to 1 A level.
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.
A part-time degree course is available at Birmingham City University. People who are already working in support-level posts, for example, as assistant practitioners, can take a part-time, in-service degree course in Diagnostic Radiography at London South Bank University.
You can find a list of course providers on the website of the Society of Radiographers and the Health and Care Professions Council.
If you don't have the qualifications that are usually needed to enter a degree in diagnostic radiography, you might be able to start one after completing a college or university Access course, such as Access to Science. You don't usually need any qualifications to start an Access course, but you should check individual course details.
- 15% of radiographers work part-time.
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
Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
Address: Park House, 184 Kennington Park Road, London SE11 4BU
Tel: 0845 3006184
NHS Education for Scotland (NES)
Address: Westport 102, West Port, Edinburgh EH3 9DN
Tel: 0131 6563200
NHS Business Services Authority
Society of Radiographers
Address: 207 Providence Square, Mill Street, London SE1 2EW
Tel: 020 7740 7200
Irish Institute of Radiography and Radiation Therapy (IIRRT)
Address: 28 Millbrook Court, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Tel: 0871 313795
People Exchange Cymru (PEC)
Public sector recruitment portal for Wales
Cardiff University - Diagnostic Radiography
School of Healthcare Sciences
Tel: 02920 687540