Medical

Medical physicist

Medical physicists are specialists in healthcare science, also known as clinical science.

Annual Salary

£25,000 to £99,500

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

37.5

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Medical physicist jobs in 2024.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll be:

  • developing and testing new systems to help investigate patients' conditions
  • monitoring equipment to make sure it’s accurate, safe and well-maintained
  • training hospital staff
  • planning treatment programmes and explaining procedures to patients
  • carrying out procedures and analysing test results
  • using computer simulations and mathematical modelling in research and development work

You’ll develop new technology for diagnosis and treatment, covering areas like:

  • imaging techniques – to track organ functioning and aid image-guided surgery
  • radiation and radio therapies – calculating dosages for the treatment of cancers
  • electronics – designing instruments to measure or support damaged organs
  • laser technology – to reduce the need for invasive surgery, like breaking up kidney stones or treating eye disorders

You’ll work closely with medical professionals like doctors, radiographers and medical physics technicians.

University

To become a medical physicist, you'll need a degree that includes a high level of physics, for example:

  • applied physics
  • physics and mathematics
  • astrophysics

You’ll need:

  • an honours degree (2:1 or above) in physics (see above)
  • paid or unpaid experience in a hospital medical physics or engineering department
  • to have completed the 3-year NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Programme (STP)

Apprenticeship

You can get into this role through a degree apprenticeship as a healthcare science practitioner.

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

Other Routes

If you don’t have a degree level qualification, you can apply for the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). 

This consists of an undergraduate degree course like healthcare science, and work-based training. To get onto the PTP you’ll need:

£25,000 to £99,500

Starter salary: £25,000

Experienced salary: £31,250 to £82,500

Salaries in the private sector can be higher than NHS.

These figures are a guide.

37.5

You’ll usually work around 37.5 hours a week.

You may have to work evenings or weekends as part of an on-call rota.

You’ll be based in a hospital, clinic or laboratory setting, and may need to travel to other hospitals to meet with other scientists.

You’ll wear protective clothing when working with hazardous substances and radiation.

You could go on to lead a department, work in higher education, research, or in the medical equipment manufacturing industry.

You could join the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, for professional development, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You can find out more about careers and training in medical physics through Health Careers and the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • maths knowledge
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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