Job descriptions and industry overviews

Medical physicist

24 Feb 2023, 16:24

The job of medical physicist is a career which uses analytical and applied scientific techniques to help medical staff diagnose and treat patients. They are also involved in research to find new ways to diagnose and tackle diseases.

person looking at medical scans

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Biomedical physicist
  • Diagnostic and Interventional radiology physicist
  • Nuclear medicine physicist
  • Clinical scientist


Medical physicists use a range of analytical, computer-aided and bioengineering techniques in their work such as radiotherapy, x-ray imaging, ultrasound, radiology, and lasers. They apply the concepts, theories and methodologies of physics along with engineering and technology skills to the treatment of disease and work with a range of medical staff, usually in hospitals, clinics and research facilities. Their work ranges across a variety of specialisms including diagnostic and intervention radiology (also known as medical imaging), nuclear medicine, and radiation oncology (also known as radiotherapy) and clinical physiology. They also work on a variety of research projects, including the applications of digital computers in medicine and applications of information theory to diagnostic problems; processing, storing and retrieving medical images.

What the job involves

  • Research, develop and evaluate new analytical techniques
  • Carry out mathematical modelling
  • Maintain equipment
  • Plan and ensure safe and accurate treatment of patients
  • Provide advice about radiation protection
  • Train and update healthcare, scientific and technical staff
  • Manage radiotherapy quality assurance programmes
  • Write reports
  • Teach
  • Manage laboratory

How your career can develop

Progression to higher grades usually follows on from further training and postgraduate qualifications. You can progress to a role as a principal scientist or consultant scientist after several years' experience at a professional grade. This can be either a clinical or management role. A consultant role in management is likely to involve the management of a large department or major departmental section, and advanced budgeting and administration skills are often required.

Why medical physicists matter

Medical physicists play a vital and often leading role on the medical research team. Their activities cover wide frontiers, including such key areas as cancer, heart disease, and mental illness.


  • An interest in physical sciences
  • An interest in medicine and patient care
  • Attention to detail
  • Concentration skills
  • Self-motivated
  • An enquiring mind
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Observation skills
  • Good mathematical and technical skills

Typical employers

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Research facilities
  • Medical device manufacturers
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Diagnostic or medical instrumentation manufacturers
  • Universities

    Typical qualifications

    There is a variety of degrees that are related to medical physics such as bioengineering, physics with medical physics and medical physics. You could also study a PLC or diploma in a general science subject and before progressing to a degree course relating to medical physics. Most medical physicists pursue postgraduate qualifications.

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This describes editorially independent and impartial content, which has been written and edited by the gradireland content team. Any external contributors featuring in the article are in line with our non-advertorial policy, by which we mean that we do not promote one organisation over another.

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