Diagnostic Radiographer


Diagnostic radiographers are qualified healthcare professionals who capture images of the inside of the body, using the latest imaging technology. They care for people who are unwell or in pain and use a range of hi-tech equipment to take high quality images to help them diagnose illnesses or injuries.

The Role(s)

Diagnostic radiographers use sophisticated equipment to take images and use them to make a diagnosis, so the correct treatment can be given to the patient.

They work in hospital radiography departments, outpatient clinics, accident and emergency department, wards or operating theatres. Diagnostic radiographers therefore play a key role in large medical teams, helping NHSScotland to provide a person-centred healthcare service. Their expert knowledge and skills are used to identify injuries and diseases, such as cancer or coronary artery disease (CAD).

As a diagnostic radiographer, you would use a number of different imaging techniques, such as:

  • X-rays
  • Ultrasound
  • Fluoroscopy
  • CT (computed tomography)
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Angiography
  • Mammography

Some of the typical tasks you would carry out as a diagnostic radiographer include:

  • assessing patients illnesses or injuries to determine the appropriate radiographic techniques
  • carrying out radiographic examinations to produce high-quality images
  • providing an evaluation of the image to support ongoing patient management
  • checking equipment regularly so it can be operated safely and accurately
  • assisting other healthcare practitioners, such as doctors or surgeons with complex radiological examinations
  • supervising radiography assistants and students, providing education and training
  • adhering to UK radiation, and health and safety legislation  

Skills and abilities

To become a diagnostic radiographer, useful skills include:

  • technical and practical skills, with an excellent attention to detail
  • decision-making skills
  • strong communication skills
  • team working skills
  • committed to the wellbeing of patients
  • professional with an excellent work ethic
  • strong IT skills
  • good level of physical fitness

Useful abilities include:

  • the ability to use technical, computerised imaging equipment with good hand to eye coordination
  • the need to keep up to date with new imaging techniques
  • confidence in using new technologies
  • the ability to work under pressure

Entry Requirements

To practice as a diagnostic radiographer in NHSScotland, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You will need to study an approved pre-registration programme, which can take 2 - 4 years full-time.

In Scotland the following universities offer undergraduate programmes in diagnostic imaging or diagnostic radiography:

The minimum academic entry requirements for these degree courses vary, but most universities in Scotland require SQA Higher BBBC grades, including English and two science subjects. A pass in SQA National 5 English and Maths grade A - C is also required, if these subjects are not achieved at SQA Higher grade.

Students with an SQA HNC in a science-based subject may be allowed entry to year 1.

You may wish to consider visiting a radiology / diagnostic imaging department  at your local hospital before applying. This will give you valuable insight to what the job entails and support your personal statement in your application.

Entry requirements vary depending on the university, or other education provider. Specific entry requirements, including other accepted qualifications, are provided on each university website.

To apply for a diagnostic imaging or diagnostic radiography programme you must use the UCAS application process.

You can visit the HCPC website for a full list of approved educational institutions and diagnostic radiography programmes across the UK.

Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) – Access to Health & Life Sciences (SCQF Level 6) or Access to Allied Health: Specialised Programmes (SCQF Level 6)

These programmes are for adults returning to education, perhaps changing career or seeking to gain the equivalent university entry qualifications needed for a diagnostic radiography undergraduate programme. There are no formal entry qualifications, but applicants should have a good standard of general education and have been away from formal education for a minimum of 2 – 3 years.

Successful completion of the course could lead to:

  • A degree in diagnostic imaging or diagnostic radiography by applying to universities that participate in the SWAP partnership programme
  • HNC Applied Sciences

Please visit the Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP) website for more information or you can view the following videos:

Postgraduate study

If you already have a relevant degree and healthcare experience, you can take a postgraduate diploma or masters in diagnostic radiography. These courses usually take two years. The HCPC website provides details of approved postgraduate programmes in the UK. Queen Margaret University in Scotland offers a post-graduate pre-registration 2 year course for graduates.

Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) scheme

You will require a satisfactory (PVG) check to show that you are suitable to work as a diagnostic radiographer. This scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland.

Modern Apprenticeships

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Currently, there are no Modern Apprenticeships which would lead directly to a career as a diagnostic radiographer.

Learning and Development

You can join the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) from your first day of being a student, as there is a dedicated part of the website just for student radiographers. SCoR also offers free membership for your first year.

Once qualified your can register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

During your career, you'll have to keep your skills and knowledge up to date with CPD. The SCoR provides courses, conferences and seminars where you can exchange ideas and update skills.

Career progression

In NHSScotland, diagnostic radiographers start on band 5 of the NHS Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. With experience, radiographers can progress to band 6 and upwards.

You may choose to specialise in a particular type of imaging, such as magnetic resonance imaging or sonography. Some diagnostic radiographers work with specific patient groups, such as breast screening, children, stroke patients or cancer patients. Some Consultant Radiographers lead an image reporting service. You could also move into management, either within radiography services or general management. As head of a radiography service you would be responsible both for a team of staff and for managing a budget. There is also the option to consider a career in research, teaching or within the independent sector.

Professional Bodies

Find out more information from these professional bodies.

Health & Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The HCPC is an independent, UK-wide regulatory body responsible for setting and maintaining standards for health, psychological, and in England; social work professionals. It maintains a public register of qualified professionals and works to improve industry standards and education. Visit the HCPC website to find out more.

http://www.hcpc-uk.org/

Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR)

The Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR) is the only body in the UK representing the whole of the radiographic workforce. They are a trade union and professional body representing the professional, educational, public and workplace interests of our members. Founded in 1920, they are one of the oldest and most experienced radiography organisations in the world.Find out more on the SCoR website.

http://www.sor.org/