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Medical illustrator

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

Annual Salary

£28,000 to £43,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: on call; on a rota

Future employment

There will be 0.5% more Medical illustrator jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

Your tasks will depend on your specialism. As part of your day-to-day tasks, you may:

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

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • working towards this role

To get into any of the branches of medical illustration you'll need a degree in a relevant subject like:

  • photography
  • graphic design
  • illustration
  • art and design
  • film or video production

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

As a trainee you could gain a postgraduate qualification in specialisms like:

  • clinical photography
  • graphic design for healthcare
  • medical art

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You can apply to do a postgraduate qualification if you're already working in healthcare and you have a relevant degree.

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.

Contact your local university hospital or NHS trust's medical photography department to arrange a visit or some work shadowing.

Professional and industry bodies

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of the fine arts
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • design skills and knowledge
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • knowledge of computer operating systems, hardware and software
  • 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 have a thorough understanding of computer systems and applications
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