Medical illustrator

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Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would use your artistic skills to create images and take photos and videos of medical conditions and treatments. Your images would be used to train healthcare staff and to support medical research.

You’d create visual records of the care that patients receive. You’d make materials for medical teaching and research.

There are four areas you could specialise in:

  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Graphic design
  • Medical art

You would record a patient's condition using a digital camera or video. You’d take photographs so that medical staff can see the effectiveness of operations and treatments over a period of time.

Using specialist equipment and techniques, you’d capture 3-D images of structures like the eye, and record specific procedures.

You might also take photos and create artwork for:

  • Educational posters and leaflets for the public
  • Publicity materials
  • Annual reports
  • Staff magazines and newspapers
  • Websites

For some jobs you would:

  • Do forensic photography, taking photos of non-accidental injuries
  • Copy evidence from slides and x-rays
  • Do bereavement photography, taking photos for grieving parents
  • Use software to design presentations

You would work closely with doctors, nurses and patients in hospitals and university medical departments.

You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on the Medical illustrator page on the NHSScotland Careers website. See the Learning and development section for information about career structure, progression and rates of pay.

Working conditions

Hours

You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, Monday to Friday. You may sometimes need to be available for on-call duties and overtime. Job-sharing and part-time hours may also be possible.

Environment

You could be based in a clinic, hospital ward, studio or operating theatre. You will usually work as part of a team. You may occasionally be faced with unpleasant or upsetting situations.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Working as part of a team
  • Being tactful
  • Time management

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

Keep track of your skills in your account and find the jobs, opportunities and courses that suit you.

Click here to view / add your skills

Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on Apprenticeships.scot.

Qualifications

You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in Photography followed by Postgraduate Certificate in Clinical Photography (SCQF level 11).

You can enter some photography National Certificate or National Qualification courses (SCQF level 5) with no formal qualifications but most courses require National 4/5 qualifications (SCQF level 6).

You can enter a Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Higher or a relevant HNC/HND.

To enter a postgraduate qualification (SCFQ level 11) will usually require a relevant degree. There are no postgraduate courses in Scotland

Medical illustration is a small and specialised field and there is often a lot of competition for vacancies.

The Institute of Medical Illustrators offers Assured Voluntary Regulation, through the Academy for Healthcare Science.

This is increasingly sought after by potential employers, as a recognition of professional standards. 

Useful subjects

  • English (often required by courses)
  • Art and design (often required by courses)
  • Photography
  • Science such as human biology

You will also need

You will need a portfolio of your work when applying to courses and to jobs. 

Helpful to have

Qualifications that demonstrate creative, digital and visual communication skills such as Skills for Work Creative Digital Media (SCFQ level 4) or Creative Industries (SCFQ level 5).

Work-based qualifications such as a Diploma in Creative and Digital Media (SCQF level 7) may also be helpful.

You will improve your job prospects if you also have relevant work experience.