Overview of the Sector
There are over 1.2 million people employed in primary science-based roles in the UK (according to www.grb.uk.com), and they work across a range of industries including Healthcare & Life Science, Defence, Engineering & Energy, the Environment and Research.
According to Cogent Skills around 33% of employees in these areas hold a first degree.
Main areas of work could be categorised as:
Lab-based e.g. R&D and product development, Healthcare Scientist (e.g. Biomedical, Medical Physicist).
Non-lab-based e.g. Project Management, Regulatory Affairs, Supply Chain, Sales and Marketing
Animals & Environmente.g. Oceanographer, Environmental Scientist, Animal Technician, Hydrographic Surveyor
See also the Sector Resource for Healthcare
Typical jobs in the science sector
Scientific Research and Development:
Medical Related Scientific Services:
Scientific Analysis and Investigation:
|Analytical Chemist||Clinical Research Associate|
|Forensic Scientist||Radiation Protection Practioner|
Scientific Technical Support:
|Animal Technician||Healthcare Scientist, Physiology|
|Scientific Laboratory Technician||Teaching Laboratory Technician
What do I need to gain graduate employment?
- Communication and interpersonal skills to work with clients
- Commercial awareness to understand business needs and processes
- Analytical skills to be able to critically assess and make sense of complex information
- Numeracy to be able to quickly and accurately make decisions.
For lab-based roles – practical lab skills are incredibly important. A relevant degree should provide opportunities to exercise these through practicals and research. Make sure you emphasise them on job applications and be prepared to be tested on them at interview. Skills in IT and programming are increasingly sought across the Science sector.
For non-lab-based roles – General employability skills regarding problem solving, communication, project management will be most important here. The knowledge gained from a relevant degree will provide a good foundation for these roles.
Few opportunities (placements or internships) exist for relevant lab-based work experience for students. The ones that do exist tend to be targeted at penultimate year students. Make yourself a strong candidate for these by:
- making the most of practicals and research opportunities while at University
- getting involved in extra-curricular activities – see the Degree Plus website for ideas
- making speculative approaches to relevant companies for short periods of work-shadowing
Some of the larger companies and research research organisations who offer placements and summer internships include:
- The Met Office
- Reckitt Benckiser (RB)
- The Wellcome Trust - runs a summer internship programme
- The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) offers placements and internships
- IEASTE - provides work experience abroad for undergraduate students in science, engineering, technology and applied arts
For non-lab-based roles, relevant experience can be gained outside of the industry through internships in marketing and project management as well as through placements and internships within Science companies.
Local/ Northern Ireland Opportunities
On Campus resources–
- Careers Fairs– the annual Engineering, Science and Technology fair in October is a good opportunity to meet potential employers in this sector.
- MyFuture– Internships, placements and graduate opportunities.
While some roles will be advertised on MyFuture it is important to check the websites of individual companies and general jobs websites e.g.
Also follow companies on their social media sites and LinkedIn platforms to network about upcoming opportunities.
UK and Global Opportunities
On Campus resources–
- ‘Going Global’– database of jobs and internships, key employers and country guides - available through MyFuture -> Jobs -> Goinglobal
- Graduate Recruitment & Placement Fair– annual showcase of NI and international firms with vacancies
Many of the key employers in Science are multi-national companies which offer opportunities for global careers. It can be difficult for new graduates to find science work abroad immediately on graduating, but with a few years of experience, scientists are sought by employers throughout the world.
Useful sites for finding student and graduate jobs in this sector in UK, Ireland and further afield:
- New Scientist Jobs
- NHS websites: Northern Ireland, England and Wales, Scotland
- NHS Scientist Training Programme
- Royal Soceity of Chemistry
- Jobs in Science
Professional Related Bodies and Organisations
Further Reading and Information
Prospects industry insights and Gradireland sector career guides will help you to search for employment in this employment sector.
Prospects Job Sectors
Gradireland Career Sector Guides
Further information resources are available at the Student Guidance Centre Hub (Opening hours: Mon- Fri 09:00- 17:00), including free copies of Gradireland, TargetJobs and Prospects guides plus self-help guides and employer brochures. The Student Guidance Centre Hub has free wifi, tea and coffee.
This information is obtained from a variety of sources, including the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS), Prospects, Gradireland and relevant professional organisations and other appropriate resources, as available.
We endeavour to ensure that our online resources are current and contain relevant information. However, we cannot accept responsibility for the contents of external websites.