Working as a podiatrist, you won’t just be dealing with the elderly population’s painful corns or using industrial style sanders to remove dry skin from some seriously neglected feet, you’ll be undertaking a whole range of therapeutic and surgical techniques, and treating a plethora of different people, from children to sportspeople.
One thing we can guarantee is that you will be seeing a lot of feet.
Podiatrists (otherwise known as chiropodists) deal with everything to do with the feet and lower leg. They use therapeutic and surgical techniques to treat infections, ailments, injuries and other issues.
They also offer advice and preventative care to patients and vulnerable social groups, generally doing everything possible to keep your tootsies healthy and in good nick.
If you feel squeamish about other people’s feet, this definitely isn’t the profession for you.
Salary & benefits
Starting salaries for podiatrists working in the NHS usually hover around the £21,000 mark.
With more experience, podiatrists can earn up to £34,000 annually, while consultant or specialist podiatrists might be looking at salaries of up to £40,000 a year.
Those working privately (e.g. not with the NHS) might earn far more.
Those working with the NHS will usually work a 38-hour week. Private podiatrists might have more flexible working hours, sometimes working in the evenings or at weekends to accommodate clients.
Many podiatrists go down the self-employment or freelance route, whilst others combine private work with part-time NHS work.
All podiatrists have to register with the Health Professions Council (HPC). In order to qualify for registration, those wishing to become podiatrists must obtain a qualification approved by the HPC. This takes the form of an undergraduate BSc in Podiatry.
There are only 13 institutions offering such a course in the UK, so it’s not surprising that competition for places is high. Most courses will be asking for at least two A-levels, one of which in a science subject, or 260-280 UCAS points.
Alternative qualifications might be accepted and those with considerable experience are usually welcome. Previous relevant work experience or shadowing will likely strengthen applications.
One of the most attractive aspects of the course is that the NHS and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) cover the tuition fees for all 13 podiatry courses. Podiatry is particularly popular as a second career choice and many students on the courses are mature students.
Other qualities looked for in a podiatrist are communication and interpersonal skills, practical skills, a knowledge and understanding of areas of science, and a caring nature.
Training & progression
After completing a BSc in Podiatry and registering with the HPC, graduates are able to practise as podiatrists. Some choose to take their training further, either through taking up in-post specialist training or studying for further postgraduate or specialist qualifications.
In terms of career progression, podiatrists might look to progress to managerial or lead podiatrist roles. Others might choose to specialise in particular areas, such as surgery, podopaediatrics (working with children), or biomechanics.
Naturally, getting involved in teaching and research are other viable options.