Starting your career
Choosing subjects at school
To get on a course that could lead to a career as a diagnostic radiographer, useful subjects include:
- Human Biology
Work placements and volunteering
You may find it helpful to get some experience of working in healthcare by doing a work placement. There may also be opportunities to volunteer. This could help you when applying to university, college or a new job with NHSScotland.
A Foundation Apprenticeship could give you the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to start your career as a diagnostic radiographer.
Discover more about a Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare.
College and university
You'll need a degree to become a diagnostic radiographer. Most universities accept a wide range of qualifications, giving you the option of applying directly from school or going to college first. At college, you could do an HNC in a science-based subject before applying to university to do an undergraduate programme.
Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you can get into higher education through the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you gain the degree entry qualifications you need.
3 universities in Scotland offer degree courses in Diagnostic Radiography or Diagnostic Imaging approved by the HCPC:
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- Queen Margaret University
- Robert Gordon University
Pre-registration undergraduate programmes take 4 years full-time.
If you already have a relevant qualification and healthcare experience, you can do a postgraduate diploma or master's in Diagnostic Radiography. Pre-registration postgraduate programmes usually take 2 years.
For more information on related further and higher education courses, search My World of Work.
As a diagnostic radiographer, you’ll take images using different imaging techniques, such as:
- CT (computed tomography)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
- nuclear medicine
Your expert knowledge and skills would be used to identify injuries and illnesses, including cancers or coronary artery disease (CAD).
What you’ll do
- assessing patients’ illnesses or injuries
- carrying out radiographic examinations
- producing high-quality images
- evaluating radiographic images
- checking equipment regularly so it can be used safely and accurately
- assisting doctors or surgeons with complex radiological examinations
- supervising and training radiography assistants and students
- adhering to UK radiation legislation
- adhering health and safety legislation
You’ll need these skills:
- critical thinking
You’ll also need to use technical, computerised imaging equipment with good hand to eye coordination. It’s also important that you keep up to date with new imaging techniques and technologies.
Who you’ll work with
Diagnostic radiographers usually work in a team with other healthcare professionals, including:
- healthcare support workers
You could work in:
- hospital radiography departments
- outpatient clinics
- accident and emergency departments
- operating theatres
To work as a diagnostic radiographer in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:
Did you know?
Around 90% of patients in hospital are supported by the radiography workforce. There are more than 34,500 registered radiographers in the UK and over 1,800 diagnostic radiographers working in the NHS in Scotland.
Learning and development
During your career, you'll have to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) provides courses, conferences and seminars where you can exchange ideas and update skills.
You may choose to specialise in a particular type of imaging, such as MRI or sonography. Some diagnostic radiographers work with specific patient groups, such as breast screening, children, stroke patients or cancer patients.
You could also move into management, either within radiography services or general management. There is also the option to consider a career in research, education or within the independent sector.
When you become a student, you can join the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR).
When you complete your HCPC accredited degree, you’ll also be able to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).