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Medical Photographer: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a medical photographer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and skills needed to find out if this is the career for you.

Photography plays an essential part in documenting medical procedures. It's little surprise then that a professional specialist trained to capture this information, known as a medical photographer, exists. They are tasked with taking photographs that aid physicians and other specialists in diagnosing and treating all sorts of ailments and illnesses. Ideally, a medical photographer will have photography experience and medical knowledge.

Essential Information

Medical photographers capture a broad range of medical procedures. Photographers in this field typically need a college degree, supplemented with medical knowledge and photography field experience. Those skilled at photography who also have an interest in medicine may want to give this career a closer look.

Required Education Bachelor's degree (likely, but can vary)
Other Requirements Photography experience; medical knowledge
Related Skills Photography software and editing skills
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (all photographers)
Median Salary (2015)* $31,710 (all photographers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Medical Photographer Job Description

Medical photographers, who fall under the category of scientific photographers, record a variety of medical data through the use of photography. This requires knowledge of scientific procedures, photography techniques and the proper use of equipment. Medical photographers must also maintain good hand-eye coordination to ensure clear photographs.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expected slower-than-average 3% employment growth for all types of photographers between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). In 2015, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $31,710 for photographers.

Medical Photographer Duties

A medical photographer uses her or his photography knowledge, along with medical content knowledge, to perform on-site photography services required for surgical and clinical procedures. Often, this includes using photography for reproducing radiography images, creating photographs for reconstructive surgeries, producing educational slides and documenting operating room procedures. Medical photographers rely on digital cameras and computer software programs to edit their images. They may be required to edit client images taken from pre-operative and post-operative evaluations. Therefore, staying abreast of recent software editing trends is important.

In the field of dermatology, medical photographers primarily deal with melanoma screening. This includes mole mapping to aid in early melanoma recognition. Occasionally, medical photographers also document vital information for sexual assault victims. This sensitive duty requires medical photographers to obtain clear, accurate documentation. Some medical photographers also conduct electrophoresis gel photography and image enhancing.

Medical Photographer Requirements

According to the BLS, scientific photographers typically need a degree, which may be in photography or in an industry-related field, such as biology or chemistry. Course preparation includes learning to correctly operate photography equipment and becoming familiar with photography techniques. Those interested in photography can enroll in courses at private trade schools, vocational technical institutes, community colleges or universities.

If you're interested in photography and are looking for a career in the medical industry, then a career as a medical photographer could be a good fit for you. In addition to formal training through a degree program in photography or one of the sciences, you'll need basic medical knowledge, an ability to operate technological equipment, a steady hand and an attention to detail.


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