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Industry Spotlight: How to Become a Radiographer

ed-lockWorking as a Radiographer can be very rewarding and it offers lots of career progression. But how long does it take to qualify? And how can you stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs?

Ed Lock, currently in his last year of studying for a Radiography Degree, talks to Jobulo. He tells us what it’s like working on the job and shares some career tips.

What is Radiography?

There are two types of Radiography – Diagnostic and Therapy. Diagnostic is where you work in a variety of specialism’s including A&E, MRI, theatre, fluoroscopy and nuclear medicine. As a Radiographer you work to produce images that can be diagnosed and interpreted by physicians. Therapy is different as it is solely oncology/cancer based. In this area you deal directly with the treatment of cancer using high radiation as a form of treatment. I specialise in Diagnostic.

What Made You Want to be a Radiographer?

I actually didn’t know much about the job before I applied for my degree but I thought it sounded very interesting. It was also financially sensible as there were no tuition fees – it was NHS funded. Since studying I have found it to be a challenging and rewarding job and there are plenty of progression opportunities in the industry.

Tell Us About Your University Course?

To become a Radiographer you need to study for three years at University to gain a Bachelor of Science. After you graduate you can go on to work in hospitals as a standard Radiographer and then specialise while you are working. If you want to specialise in a certain field you have to do a Masters Degree which can take two years. University definitely gives you a good understanding of the job as it is very vocational. You spend the majority of terms on placements in hospitals. The course is very evidence based so it does involve essay writing and research. I have also had to do several practical exams including X-rays and CT.

How Does the Course Progress?

You start off with chest X-rays and dealing with fractures. But as you progress you learn more about specialised fields and have more responsibility.

What is a Typical Day Like?

It depends on where you work, it’s so varied. Working in a MRI department you will have a day of appointments and a clinic. But if you are working in A&E it can be quite random and very fast paced.

Where Do You See Yourself Progressing To?

I personally would like to work in Nuclear Medicine. There is a lot of responsibility and it is physiological. You’re not just producing an image, you are helping to diagnose and you can even run your own clinics.

Do You Need to Have a Specific Personality to do The Job?

You need to be thick skinned because you can come into contact with unsavoury characters, especially if you are working in A&E on a Friday night! You have to be able to calm people down as it can be quite a stressful environment to be in. You also need to be levelheaded and dedicated because the hours can be long and unpredictable.

What is the Career Progression Like?

There is a clear progression path in the industry and you can work your way up (in bands) on the job. So career progression is very good.

What Tips Can You Give to Someone Wanting to be a Radiographer?

You can progress in a variety of ways. You can go to University to complete the degree or you can start as an Assistant Practitioner and assist Radiographers in hospitals. If you do this for a few years you can skip a portion of the University course. Either way, ensure you gain experience and are dedicated to the role as it’s a long road to being qualified.