Medical Physicist

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences

What you will do:

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.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of medicine and dentistry
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
  • science skills

As well as:

  • analytical thinking skills
  • complex problem-solving skills (creative skills)
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • excellent written communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a medical physicist, you will need a strong educational background in physics and related subjects. While there are no specific GCSE subject requirements for this career, a solid foundation in mathematics and science is essential. Here’s a general list of subjects that can be beneficial for aspiring medical physicists:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is a fundamental subject for physics and is crucial for solving complex problems, performing calculations, and understanding scientific principles.
  2. Physics: Physics provides the foundational knowledge you’ll need to pursue a career in medical physics. It covers key principles in mechanics, electricity, magnetism, optics, and more.
  3. Chemistry: While not always required, Chemistry can be beneficial, as it provides insight into the behaviour of matter and chemical reactions, which can be relevant in medical physics.
  4. Biology: A basic understanding of biology can be helpful, especially in medical physics specialties related to medical imaging or radiation therapy.
  5. Computer Science (Useful): Familiarity with computer programming and data analysis can be advantageous, as medical physicists often work with specialized software and equipment.

Post School

You’ll need:

  • an honours degree in physics
  • paid or unpaid experience in a hospital medical physics or engineering department
  • in the UK, you’ll need to have completed the 3-year NHS Healthcare Scientist Training Programme (STP)

Again, in the UK, 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.

Working Hours and Environment:

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.

Career Path & Progression:

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