Our growing population sees more people needing imaging or radiotherapy services to accurately diagnose or treat their illnesses. And with a national shortage of radiographers, now is a great time to consider career paths for radiography.
If you’re contemplating this career, you’ll need to assess your options to determine which avenue of radiography suits you best. There are two types of radiographer – diagnostic radiographers who diagnose illnesses and injuries, and therapeutic radiographers who treat and care for cancer patients.
Either option sees you working very closely with patients while they deal with challenges in their health. So empathy and people skills are as important as your specialist training.
Outside of these two areas, the career paths for radiography are largely the same. Progression and further study can take you into advanced, consultant and educator roles. In which you can have a host of leadership and management responsibilities.
Around 90% of radiography professionals are employed within the NHS. So we take a look at each of their roles in more detail below. Allowing you to assess each path and determine which is right for you.
Different career paths available
Radiography is a regulated profession that requires registration with the Health and Care Professions Council. As well as working in line with the standards of the Society of Radiographers’ Code of Professional Conduct. These ensure professionals are practicing lawfully, safely, ethically and effectively.
Once qualified, you can work as a registered radiographer at the practitioner level. Your duties will depend on the avenue of radiography you choose. But both types of practitioner act as an integral member of either clinical imaging or radiotherapy and oncology teams.
As a diagnostic radiographer, you generally work with most of the departments within the hospital. Taking images that help in the diagnosis of many types of illnesses and injuries.
The imaging methods you’ll work with can include:
- Computed tomography (CT)
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
As you gain experience your input may be required for image interpretation and establishing treatment plans.
As a therapeutic radiographer, you focus on planning and administering radiotherapy treatment, as well as aftercare for patients. Generally, this will be people undergoing treatment for cancer. Though you may treat other conditions like blood disorders and thyroid disease.
You’ll use various technical equipment to apply radiation to target areas, with minimal exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue. Working with patients before, during and after treatment means you’ll play a part in helping them cope with their experience.
Both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers can expect to be at band 5 of the NHS pay spine on entry. Reaching up to band 6 with experience.
At this level, practitioners are regarded as experts when it comes to delivering care in diagnostic imaging or radiotherapy. They have experience in a wide range of settings and can manage the entire care process with patients and carers. This means they can analyse and synthesise complex problems in many settings, so that innovative solutions can be established.
Generally, advanced practitioners are experts in clinical practice in one or more other areas than that of their specialism:
- Management and leadership
- Research and service development
Outside of the clinical domain, they can support the career development for other radiography professionals like managers, researchers and academics. They can also develop pioneering practice procedures and identify where improvements can be made in service.
Those working within the clinical domain are an essential member of the radiography team. But they also work with others outside of radiography to ensure the delivery of high quality, effective care.
To work at this level the Society of Radiographers believe you should have education or workplace training to that of master’s level education. You can expect your pay to fall within NHS bands 7 or 8 depending upon the nature of your role.
As a consultant, you need to be able to innovate, motivate and influence local and national agendas. You’ll undertake a lot of research to develop professional practice and promote the need for ongoing research within radiography.
This role plays a direct part in influencing continuing professional development. As such, you’ll be directly involved with the integration of clinical, education and research findings in practice. Initiating service changes and delivering improved patient outcomes based on findings from clinical research, audits, governance and risk assessments.
You need to be educated either academically or through workplace training to doctorate level. So that you can think creatively and independently about ways to advance practice, research and education within the field. Working across professional and organisational boundaries, providing leadership, functioning as a consultant to other practitioners and supervising them when required.
At this level, you can expect to be in band 8 of the NHS pay spine.
As an educator, you’ll generally work in the higher education sector as a lecturer. Helping to develop and deliver education programmes for assistant practitioners and those at pre-registration level. You’ll also assist with continuing professional development from level 6 (bachelor’s) through to level 8 (doctorate) level study. For this role you usually need at least a masters level qualification. As well as a postgraduate qualification in learning and teaching in higher education.
Pay will vary depending on the university, but lecturers typically earn between £34,000 and £60,000 per year depending on seniority. As a professor, you could earn anywhere up to £115,000.
Study Radiography Online
To get started and take advantage of these career paths for radiography, you’ll need to study a degree level qualification. And if you don’t have the A Levels for university, we can help.
An Access to Higher Education Diploma (Radiography) provides an equivalent qualification to A Level study. It’s a vocational course that equips you with industry specific knowledge and skills. So you’re better prepared for the subject at the higher level.
If you’ve been out of education for some time the course also has modules dedicated to developing your study skills. Meaning you’ll be ready for the independent learning style that is required at university.
You can study our Access to HE Diplomas online, from home. Allowing you to get the skills for a new career while earning a living or caring for your family. Stonebridge Associated Colleges also provide access to a dedicated team of tutors who will help you throughout your studies. They will answer any questions you may have, mark your assignments and provide detailed feedback that will help you improve.
Find out more about the modules you’ll study, the flexible payments available and other important information by clicking below.