• Science and related work

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Find out more about the scientific industry from the Institute of Science and Technology website.
Or you can find out more about a career in a specific science sector by visiting the websites for the Royal Society of Chemists, the Biochemical Society, the Society of Biology or the Institute of Physics.

What does a scientific career involve?

A career in science can lead you down a wide range of paths working in a number of different job areas and environments.

It's not all about guys in their white lab coats, playing with smelly liquids and accidentally blowing each other up. As you read this, you might be wearing fleece (made from recycled plastic bottles) or eating something made with artificial sweetener or talking on your mobile phone. Certainly, you are using a computer! If it weren’t for scientists, none of this would be possible - and yet not many young people consider science for a career. Certain areas of the industry are doing well, such as the food and drinks industry (preservatives, packing, etc) and the pharmaceutical industry. With an ageing population, the search for new and effective drug treatments is likely to continue.

For information on research geneticists, click here.

Why should I apply for a career in the sciences?

A career in the sciences can be a lot more varied and exciting than it sounds. You could become a forensic scientist, helping to solve difficult crimes; you could be a pharmacologist, creating new medicines to help people live longer and healthier; you could work in the textiles industry to make better waterproof clothing; you could work with electronics to make computers faster and games consoles more powerful. There are so many ways a good scientist can contribute, directly or indirectly to the society around them that this line of work can be very satisfying.

Certain areas of science are extremely popular and newsworthy right now, and their importance is set to continue. Examples include genetics and environmental issues, such as global warming. But, as a subject, chemistry has been in long-term decline, leading some universities to close their chemistry departments. This has led to concerns that there will be a shortage of graduate chemists in the next few years. As more and more science-related stories appear in the media, the general public may become even more concerned about the long-term effects and morality of some scientific work (like cloning and genetically modified food). As science continues to play such a massive role in people's lives it is essential that people step up and take the responsibility to continue to lead us to greater and greater heights.

Training and Applicants

It’s very helpful for potential scientists to get a degree and then follow it up with postgraduate study. A postgraduate qualification is very useful to gain knowledge in a specific work area, such as environmental health management or forensic science. Jobs do exist for people with lower qualifications but you will often be expected to gain extra qualifications whilst you work.

What opportunities are available within the sector?

Scientists work in many different areas, from universities and schools to government establishments and the health service. Roles are just as varied and include research, sales and marketing, scientific journalism and teaching. There are real shortages of science and maths teachers, so the government is trying to attract them with extra money. Up to £4,000 is being offered to newly qualified teachers who want to teach science.

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