I Want to Work in ..... Science

Find out about the many different science careers open to graduates and how to apply for them.

  • Introduction

  • Science
    Skills
  • Science
    Career Routes
  • Careers
    Outside Science
  • Placements &
    Summer Work
  • Vacancy
    Sources
  • Applications
    & Interviews
  • Postgraduate
    Study

Information on science-related jobs. magic potion

Below is a chart listing many of the main science-related jobs with a rough coding on the likelihood of a career from the particular degree subject.

Click on the job title to go to a page of information about the job. ** green = good match
Click on the degree subject to go to careers with that degree subject. * yellow = moderate match

 

JOB
V
DEGREE >
Research & Development
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Hospital Science
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Forensic Science
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Science Teaching
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**
**
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Toxicology
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Pharmacologist
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Epidemiology            
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Bioinformatics
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Biotechnology
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Nanotechnology
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Neuroscience
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Production & Quality
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Regulatory Affairs
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Clinical Trials
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Information Scientist
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Medical Sales
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Patent Work
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**
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Environmental Health
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Science Admin.
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Science Writing
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Doctor / Nursing
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Medical Therapies
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See also www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Occupations where you will find detailed job descriptions of many of the above jobs.

What can I do with my degree in ......?

 

What skills do science graduates have?

 

Scientists are usually good at:

They may need to improve their:

GSK gave this list of skills they looked for when recruiting researchers:

  • Ability to make presentations. Able to present ideas and arguments verbally in presentations and seminars, and informal discussions
  • Teamworking. Able to work with others in groups (e.g. group projects)
  • People skills. Able to communicate with others in a clear and articulate manner
  • Time management and organising skills. Able to work independently on individual projects and ultimately to manage project groups.
  • Report writing and clear documentation of experimental work
  • Problem solving. Able to gather and analyse relevant information from a wide variety of sources and to identify and propose solutions to problems.
  • Technical skills. Laboratory experience is the most important thing here. A vacation placement or sandwich year in a laboratory will greatly enhance your chances of entry. List relevant modules and projects (plus marks if good!) on your science CV.
  • Computing Skills

 


 

science career routes

Careers Outside Science

Science graduates are attractive to many employers because of their personal transferable skills rather than the specific skills that they have gained during their degree course. These skills include the ability to

  • communicate with others in a clear and articulate manner;
  • present ideas and arguments verbally in presentations and seminars, and informal discussions;
  • work with others in the preparation and presentation of group work;
  • identify and propose solutions to problems;
  • work independently;
  • use computing skills to store, retrieve and produce material for coursework, drawing on skills such as word processing, databases and spreadsheets;
  • gather and analyse relevant information from a wide variety of sources;
  • Use mathematical skills


Jobs using these skills include:

  • COMPUTING requires very similar logical thinking skills to those required in science. One way in is via a postgraduate conversion course, such as the one year MSc in Computer Science at Kent. Employers include:
    • Tessella www.tessella.co.uk   developer of Scientific Software - recruits scientific programmers
    • LogicaCMG www.logicacmg.com recruits science graduates into computer consultancy.
  • FINANCE employers are very attracted to science graduates because of their analytical and problem-solving skills


See www.kent.ac.uk/careers/workin.htm for information on a wide range of other careers open to you.

A chart of jobs that can be entered with any degree subject is at www.kent.ac.uk/careers/careermap.htm

Science placements

A good sandwich placement brings huge benefits in terms of work experience, employability and even academic results (see here for a list of these) and I would strongly recommend you consider doing one. Even a shorter summer placement can bring great benefits.

Many of the following organisations may sometimes offer placements. Check their web sites from early in the the Autumn term onwards as closing dates are often early.

You will need a good science CV and covering letter to go with it. See our science interviews page for help with these.

Getting work experience in science isn't easy and if you can't get this do something else that will develop your employability skills such as a summer camp with BUNAC in the United States. See also our Work Experience page and Vacancy Database for details of these opportunities.

Placements

The term "placement" usually refers to a year spent in an employer organisation between the second and final year of a degree course. These organisations may be in any area of business, commerce, manufacturing or the public sector. Some employers offer shorter sandwich placements of four to six months and also vacation placements, usually involving two or three months work over the summer, so, if you see the word "placement" used in a job advertisement, you should check exactly what the employer means by this! Please note that although the Careers and Employability Service will help you as much as we can when applying for sandwich placements which are part of your degree course, it is not part of our formal responsibilities and you should also get help from the placement tutor in your department, who may know of placement opportunities that we are not aware of. See our Placements page for much more information on placements

General Science Sources of Vacation Work and Placements

  • The STEP programme www.step.org.uk offers the chance to get involved in project work that will help small/medium-sized employers organisations to develop. There are over 1400 paid projects over the summer vacation open to students of any subject (many are science and IT related).
  • IAESTE www.iaeste.org.uk paid course-related work placements abroad for students in science, engineering, technology.
  • Nuffield Science Bursaries www.nuffieldfoundation.org/go/grants/nsb/page_390.html schemes give you the chance to work in leading scientific industries, research institutes and UK universities during your summer holiday.
    Undergraduate Research Bursaries are for those considering research as a career. They enable students in the middle years of their degree to take part in a defined research project for six to eight weeks of the summer vacation. Students receive a bursary of £180 a week.
  • Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarships www.wellcome.ac.uk provide promising undergraduates with 'hands-on' research experience during the summer vacation and to encourage them to consider a career in research. You must be in the middle year of a first science degree (i.e. not the first or last year) Each award consists of a weekly stipend of £190 for a maximum of 8 weeks over the summer vacations. Apply early!
  • IBM Student Programmes www.ibm.com/uk offer opportunities across the company, starting with an intensive training course followed by work experience. There are both technical and non-technical placements available, lasting for a minimum of 8 weeks. Applications welcome from penultimate-year students of all degree disciplines. Students can join their 3-month summer placement scheme Extreme Blue. Applications close before February www-05.ibm.com/employment/uk/students/extreme-blue/index.shtml
  • The National Work Experience Bank www.prospects.ac.uk/links/Wexpbank excellent source of vacation work.
  • See also our Work Experience page www.kent.ac.uk/careers/vacwork.htm and Vacancy Database www.kent.ac.uk/careers/jobs/index.htm which has a section on summer work and placements.
  • Scientific Recruitment Agencies www.kent.ac.uk/careers/sitephar.htm#ScientificRecAgencies these area a very good source of temporary work in science . Many are interested in receiving CVs from students and some have summer vacation work and sometimes industrial placements.
  • Check with your department: sometimes students are needed to carry out paid summer vacation projects in the university labs.

Chemistry and Forensic Science

Many of the following organisations will consider forensic science students as well as chemists, as Kent Forensics students have a strong training in analytical chemistry techniques. Not many forensic science employers formally advertise placements so you need to send a science CV (see above) and speculative covering letter to the employers listed on the forensic science careers page You can also apply to the general science sources listed above.

Bioscience

  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Cancer Research UK http://supportus.cancerresearchuk.org/GetInvolved/Volunteering/Internship_scheme/228 20 12 week summer science internships per year at the London Research Institute. Paid £200 per week. Get lab experience and work with a postdoc supervisor. Advertised in December/January each year: NOT RUNNING IN 2012
  • The John Innes Centre and Sainsbury Laboratory www.jic.ac.uk/summerprogramme an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology. Provides students the unique opportunity to spend the summer on their research training programme. Free accommodation plus £200 per week. Apply early!
  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs www.defra.gov.uk
  • 2 Sisters Food Group www.2sfg.com formerly Northern Foods
  • Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (genome research) www.sanger.ac.uk/careers offers vacation placements for undergraduate and masters students. To apply complete the online application form - deadline is usually end of February. You need a letter of recommendation from your tutor.
  • National Institute for Medical Research, London www.nimr.mrc.ac.uk 
  • Defence Science and Technology Laboratory www.dstl.gov.uk/careers the centre of scientific excellence for the Ministry of Defence offer a summer vacation scheme as well as industrial placements. Apply on line from December.
  • Campden BRI www.campden.co.uk Food Research Association
  • Health Protection Agency www.hpa.org.uk Diagnostic service for hospitals. Has a list of laboratories at www.hpa.org.uk/ProductsServices/InfectiousDiseases/LaboratoriesAndReferenceFacilities
  • Hospital Laboratories. See our Medical Laboratories page
  • Undergraduate research awards The following offer small bursaries (typically c£150pw) to enable undergraduates who are considering research as a career to work in a research laboratory during the summer vacation. You must identify a potential supervisor prepared to take you on. The supervisor must be in a university, or research institute laboratory (not usually an industrial laboratory). The bursaries provide support normally for between 6 and 8 weeks, plus a sum for research expenses.   Detailed application information can be found on their websites. 

Physics

Many of the following organisations may sometimes offer placements which may be in aeronautical engineering, materials science etc. rather than pure physics.

See our work experience page and vacancy database for many more placement opportunities

 

Vacancy Sources for Science jobs

Bioscience

Physics

Chemistry

  • Royal Society of Chemistry - includes vacancies from Chemistry in Britain magazine www.chemsoc.org

Forensic Science. See the Forensic Science Careers page

 

Applications and interviews for science jobs

 

See our applications and interviews section for much more detailed information on applications, interviews and employer aptitude tests

 

 

A large proportion of Kent science graduates go on to postgraduate study (see the table below). This is partly because grants are more easily available in the Sciences for postgraduate study than in the Arts or Social Sciences. Also, a carefully chosen higher degree may make entry to research and other science careers easier.

Postgraduate study is not an easy option and research for a PhD will require dedication and determination to see things through over a period of 3 or more years. When choosing a course, try to make sure that it is of high quality, and that the university has a good reputation. You will find research and teaching quality assessments under the Information Sources tab in our postgraduate study section www.kent.ac.uk/careers/postgradmenu.htm. Also check carefully the employment record of the course and whether it has links with potential employers.

Percentages of Kent graduates entering further study within 6 months of leaving.

Bioscience 42 %
Physics 44 %
Forensic Science 17 %
Chemistry 55 %
Biodiversity and Conservation 30 %

Masters degrees

  • M.Phil (Master of Philosophy). Usually signifies a Masters degree obtained by research, in any subject
  • MSc. (Master of Science); Usually a taught Masters
  • MRes (Research Masters)

Masters degrees may be awarded following a taught course or on a research basis.

Taught courses follow a similar structure to undergraduate degrees, usually over one year of full-time study or two years part-time. During the academic year you will follow a programme involving some or all of the following: seminars, lectures, coursework and exams. Over the summer vacation you complete a dissertation or research project and the degree is awarded on satisfactory completion of all these elements.

Research Masters degrees involve “the sustained, rigorous, critical and systematic investigation of a defined subject” over a period of at least one year. You will work independently to prepare a thesis under the guidance of a supervisor and are likely to receive training in research skills. You will normally be required to take a viva (oral examination) on your thesis before your degree is awarded.

Many students begin a research master’s degree with the aim of upgrading it to a PhD after the first year of study. In this case, you are never actually awarded a Masters but continue your research to the more demanding standard of a PhD (see below).

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

This is the highest level of academic qualification and the title of PhD is used across the full range of academic subjects. It involves an extended period (at least 3 years) of supervised research resulting in a thesis which "forms an addition to knowledge, shows evidence of systematic study and of ability to relate the results of such study to the general body of knowledge in the subject and is worthy of publication”. It is more demanding than a research Masters, not only in its length but also in that your research must be original and add something new to the existing knowledge on that subject.

Again, you will work independently to prepare a thesis under the guidance of a supervisor and will normally be required to take a viva. Once your PhD has been awarded you are entitled to use the title of “Dr”. Your choice of supervisor is crucial – it is important to choose someone who not only has the necessary expertise in the subject but who will be committed to supporting your research and who you feel that you will get on well with.

You may be required to register for a research Masters initially and then apply to be upgraded to a PhD student.

Examples of postgraduate study entered by Kent science graduates

Physics
  • MSc MSc Biomedical Imaging - Kent, France MSc Biomedical Imaging - Kent, MSc Physics - University of Kent, MSc Mathematics & Computational Science - University of Manchester, Birmingham, MSc Nanotechnology - Leeds, MSc Space Science - Kent, MSc Computer Science - Kent, MSc Astronautics - Cranfield, MSc Aeronautical Engineering - Cranfield, MSc Engineering - Cranfield, MRes Earth Science - Reading, MSc Meteorology - Reading, MSc Management Science - Kent, MBM Business Studies - Portsmouth , MA Mysticism and Religious Experience - Kent
  • PhD PhD Physics - University of Kent (lots!), PhD Applied Mathematics - Kent, Kings College (London Univ.), Cambridge, Sheffield, Lancaster, Leicester, Loughborough, Surrey, Open University, Indiana USA, PhD Planetary Physics - Oxford, PhD Solar Physics - Mullard Space Lab. UCL, DEng Cranfield
  • Teacher Training PGCE Science - Christ Church, East Anglia Univ., Aberystwyth, Kingston
  • Other Study e.g. Dip French Language - University of Poitiers, France, postgraduate diploma - Physics, Electronics at UKC,
Forensic Science
  • MSc MSc Molecular Genetics - Leicester, MSc Physics - Kent, MSc Molecular Neurosciences - Bristol, MSc Forensic Analysis- Kingston, MSc Toxicology - Surrey, MSc Nuclear Medicine - Kings College, MSc Analytical and Pharmaceutical Sci. - Loughborough, MSc Biomedical Science, MSc Medical Toxicology - Kings College
  • PhD PhD Forensic Science - Kent, YorkPhD Molecular Toxicology - Surrey
  • Legal Training: CPE Law- City University/College of Law,
  • Teacher Training PGCE Secondary Science - Christ Church/Southampton/Huddersfield/ Bedfordshire Univ.
Bioscience
  • MSc Biochemistry: Kent, UCL, Biotechnology & Computation: Kent, Bioscience: Edinburgh, Exeter, Microbiology: Kent, Molecular Medicine: Imperial; Immunology: Imperial, Nottingham, Kings, Oncology: Nottingham, Biomedical Sci.: Nottingham Trent, Bioinformatics: Birkbeck; Medical Microbiology: Liverpool/School of Tropical Hygiene; Molecular Endocrinology: Imperial; Entomology: Imperial; Genetics: Birmingham, Glasgow; Bioanalysis: Manchester, Infectious Diseases: London School of Hygiene, Conservation Biology: Kent, Food Science: Reading, Forensic Science: Strathclyde, Forensic Anthropology: Bournemouth, Renewable Energy: Reading, Management Science: Kent; Business Studies: Middlesex, International Business Management: Kent, Computer Science Kent, Bournemouth; Philosophy: Kings College
  • MRes Biotechnology: Kent; MRes Biochemistry: Imperial, MRes Biomedical Research: Imperial, MRes Bioinformatics: Leeds,
  • MA Health Studies: Kent, MA Public Health: Essex, MA Newspaper Journalism: City, MBA: Kent
  • PhD Biochemistry: Kent, Kings, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, UCL Chemistry: Sheffield, Biological Sciences: Cambridge, Biotechnology: Imperial; Microbiology: UEA; Clinical Medicine: Imperial, Molecular Biology: Imperial, UEA, UCL, Goteborg, Neuroscience: Edinburgh, Kings, Neurobiology: Kings, Immunology: Birmingham, York, Cambridge Biology: UCL, Surrey, Sussex,  Drug Development: Inst. of Cancer Research, Nuclear Medicine: Inst. of Cancer Research, Molecular Enzymology: Manchester Stem Cells: York, Nutrition: Nottingham, Biomedical Sciences: Leiden, MPhil. Haemetology: Kent,
  • Medicine Birmingham, St Georges Medical School; Peninsula Medical School, Warwick, QMC, Veterinary Medicine - Edinburgh/Royal Veterinary College;
  • Teacher Training: PGCE Secondary Science: Christ Church, Greenwich, London Institute, Leeds, Portsmouth; PGCE Primary: Christ Church, East Anglia Univ., Manchester Metropolitan; SCITT (Schools-based): Kent Training Group
  • OTHER: Radiography: Christ Church; BSc Physiotherapy: Brunel; MSc Physiotherapy: UEA, MSc Mental Health Nursing: Essex,BSc Forensic Science: Kent, HND Music: Northbrook College, Pilot Training, Access to Medicine: City College Norwich
Chemistry
  • MSc MSc Chemistry - Kent, Imperial; MSc Cosmetics & Perfumery - ISIPCA, MSc Biochemistry - Kent, MSc Food Production Management - Nottingham U., MSc Food Technology - Reading, MSc Forensic Science - Kings, MSc Computer Science - Kent, MBA - Cardiff
  • PhD/MPhil PhD Chemistry - Kent, Imperial, Manchester Univ., Oxford, Royal Institution, Bath, Greenwich, Cambridge, Southampton, UCL, Aston; PhD Organic Chemistry - Leicester, Reading, UEA; PhD Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Bristol, Nottingham; PhD Environmental Chemistry - Greenwich, PhD Colour Chemistry - Leeds, MPhil Biochemistry - Kent
  • Pg Diploma: Chemistry - Kent, Environmental Science - Kent, Diploma in Chinese Medicine
  • Teacher Training e.g. PGCE Science - Christ Church College Canterbury (several), Oxford , St. Mark & St. John
Biodiversity Conservation
  • MSc Conservation Biology: Kent, Environmental Technology: Imperial, Risk management: Middlesex ,Ecology: University of Turku, Finland, Drylands Ecology: BenGurion University, Environment & Development: LSE, MSc Conservation: Christ Church, LLM Environmental Law & Policy: Kent, MPhil Biodiversity Management: Kent, MA Environmental Consulting: Bristol.
  • PhD none
  • Teacher Training PGCE Secondary: Christ Church
  • OTHER: NVQ Land Management, Woodland Management Course

Choosing where to study

Funding

The main source is the science research councils.

You apply to postgraduate department where you want to study, not to the research council: the university department allocates awards to individual students. You should apply in the autumn or early spring terms to have a good chance of success. You normally need a good 2:1 or 1st to get an award which consists of payment of fees and a maintenance grant of about £13,000 outside London. Most PhD students will get a few hundred pounds p.a. extra from the university for invigilating exams, supervising practicals/seminars etc. These awards are open to English and Welch applicants. Scottish and Northern Ireland applicants need to confirm eligibility for particular courses. European Community applicants usually get fees only awards. More funding is usually available for PhDs than for taught MSc's.

Most of these councils offer CASE Studentships. These are research studentships with industrial collaboration. You spend about 3 months of your PhD working in industry where you have a supervisor in the company and access to company research facilities. You also get about an extra £3,000 p.a. from the company and you may get a job offer from the company following your PhD.

University Studentships

These are aimed at encouraging research so few are available for taught courses. Awards are often at a similar level to Research Council studentships. There may include a requirement to teach part-time. Check with the universities you are applying to. For Kent studentships see www.kent.ac.uk/recruitment/PG_Funding/index.html

Cancer Research UK http://science.cancerresearchuk.org offers about 25 funded PhD places per year (about £18,000 p.a.) They accept UK, EU and non-EU students. Closing date is usually late November and you need to be expecting a good 2:1 or first and must have some research experience.

Other sources of funding

How and when to apply

There is no UCAS equivalent for postgraduate academic study: each university will have its own application form, so you can apply to as main courses as you wish. Your academic reference is important.

There is no overall closing date, but you may need to apply early: December or January is normally a good time, but you should start to shortlist courses and talk to your tutor well before this. Early application especially important to be eligible for funding or for study abroad. Cancer Research UK bursaries are normally advertised in New Scientist from late October onwards.

Vocational Study

As well as study for a PhD or MSc in your subject area, you could also apply for teacher training, law, librarianship, computing, journalism or business courses to name just a few. See our I want to work in... pages for further information on these

See our postgraduate study page for much more detailed information on postgraduate study including study abroad.


 

Last fully updated 2012