Science and Technology Graduate Jobs - Careers Guide

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5.8 million people in the UK work in science-based occupations, which is a massive fifth of the entire workforce. 60% of this workforce is made up of graduates and postgraduates (The Science Council, 2011).

It is a high investment industry meaning that there are always plenty of opportunities for graduate jobs in science. For example, £7.5 million is spent on research and development in the life sciences sector (UKTI, 2011) and this sector also employs more than 120,000 with a combined turnover of £30.4 billion (BIS, 2010).

The science industry in the UK is one of the most respected in the UK. The medical technology sector is the second largest in Europe, with over 3,000 mainly small to medium sized companies employing approximately 55,000 people (BIS, 2010).

The UK is also responsible for 8% of all published scientific papers and has produced 70 Nobel science prize winners (UKTI, 2011).

Women are well represented in the science industry with them making up around 40% of the workforce (The Science Council, 2011). The industry actively supports women working in with bodies like Women into Science, Engineering and Construction (WISE) and The UKRC (for women in science, engineering, technology and the built environment) offering careers advice and mentoring.

Employers in the science industry vary widely, with most falling under the following areas: the chemical industry (AstraZeneca, BASF, Dow Chemical, Unilever), electronics and communications (BT, IBM, BAE Systems, Siemens, Rolls-Royce), food and drink (Kraft Foods, Mars, the Kerry Group), pharmaceuticals (GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Roche, Avercia), biotechnology (Vectura, Syngenta, Monsanto), and defence (BAE Systems, Serco, Dstl).

Several government departments and agencies are main recruiters in the science industry including the Food Standards Agency, the Met Office, the Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

What degree do I need?TOP ^

If you are looking for a career in science, degrees in specific scientific disciplines such as chemistry, biology, biochemistry and chemical engineering will be essential depending on what position you are applying for.

In many scientific jobs it is required that you under take further postgraduate study, usually to PhD level to enter into a career.

The grades required will vary from employer to employer and across the different disciplines but because of the specialist nature of many science jobs high grades may be essential for recruiters to consider you.

What skills do I need for a career in science?TOP ^

Because of the technical nature of many science jobs recruiters will have the need for specific skills that relate to a particular position. The exact skills an employer will be looking for will depend on the nature of the job.

There is a large skills shortage in the bioscience sector and so have a high demand for skilled graduates and postgraduates. They prioritise the following skills in:
  • Clinical research
  • Medical and analytical chemistry
  • Engineering and maths and statistics
  • Vivo sciences: pathology, toxicology, pharmacology and physiology
In general there are a range of soft skills that employers in the science sector will be looking for including:
Graduates from many degree disciplines will have the necessary soft skills for working in science. Degrees offer a good set of skills in logical thought, presentation, analysis and communication all of which are important for a career in banking.

What graduate science job can I do? TOP ^

The science industry incorporates a large range of job roles across many disciplines, including:
  • Clinical research
  • Research and development
  • Medical chemistry
  • Product and process development
  • Vivo sciences
  • Data management
  • IT support
Some of the specific job roles that you may encounter in the science industry are:
  • Clinical research associate
  • Toxicologist
  • Biomedical scientist
  • Research scientist
  • Meteorologist
  • Animal technologist
  • Analytical chemist
  • Biologist
  • Chemist
Average science salaries

Because of the specialist nature of many science positions and the demand for the skills they require science graduate starting salaries can be very competitive.

Starting salaries can range massively depending on the company and the type of job but typical starting salaries fall between £14,000 and £20,000. Those entering at PhD level are likely to start on higher salaries and those with extra experience start on salaries between £24,000 and £35,000.
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