Medical illustrator

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Clinical photographer

Medical illustrators produce photographs, videos and graphical images for use in healthcare.

Salary range: £12,214 to £37,267

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How to become a medical illustrator

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role
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University

You’ll need a degree in a relevant subject like:

  • photography
  • graphic design
  • illustration
  • art and design

You can apply for a trainee position as a medical illustrator in a healthcare setting once you finish your degree.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

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Work

You can apply to do a postgraduate qualification if you’re already working in healthcare and you have a relevant degree. For example, courses include clinical photography and graphic design in healthcare.

More information

Career tips

Medical illustration is a small and specialised field, and there’s a lot of competition for vacancies. You’ll improve your job prospects if you also have relevant work experience.

Some courses include work placements, or you could contact your local university or NHS trust’s medical photography department to arrange a visit or some work shadowing.

Professional and industry bodies

You can join the Academy for Healthcare Science or Institute of Medical Illustrators for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

Further information

You’ll find more advice on careers and training in medical illustration through the Institute of Medical Illustrators and Health Careers.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • design skills and knowledge
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your tasks will depend on your specialism and may include:

  • recording a patient’s condition using a digital camera or video
  • taking photographs to monitor the effectiveness of operations and treatments
  • using specialist equipment and techniques to capture 3D images of structures like the eye, and to record specific procedures
  • working closely with doctors, nurses and patients in hospitals and university medical departments.
  • photographing non-accidental injuries, in forensic photography
  • providing bereavement photography for grieving parents
  • copying evidence from slides and x-rays
  • using software to produce presentations
  • creating visual materials for teaching and research purposes
  • producing photography and artwork for publicity materials, annual reports, staff newspapers and websites.

Working environment

You could work in a photographic studio or in an NHS or private hospital.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to a management role. With further study, you could also move into research or teaching.