Science and research
Science careers under a microscope
A career in science and research means using your scientific skills and knowledge to advance your chosen field – whether that’s making medical breakthroughs or harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources. So, how do you want to use your expertise? Scientists usually specialise in an area such as biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, food technology, marine biology or meteorology. And they can work in various settings – from academia through to industry and healthcare. A common starting role for a science graduate is a laboratory technician or research technician.
If you're ready to apply for vacancies, then explore opportunities in science and research here .
TRENDING IN Science and research
Your science job hunt
Let’s cover the basics. Our quick overview of getting a graduate job in science, research and development runs through the skills and competencies you’ll need; if postgraduate study is necessary; what working life is like for a scientist; and the typical application process for science jobs. Once you’re done reading, we’ll cover each topic in more depth as you go down this page.
What can I do with my science degree?
You might find it helpful to begin with your degree. What careers does your chosen subject typically lead to? Each of our degree subject guides will help you to explore your options.
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Look into your options
Science job descriptions
Are you still exploring your career options in scientific research? Our job descriptions provide insights into the different job roles available to you. Compare the day-to-day tasks, the entry requirements and the key skills.
Considering postgraduate science study?
A postgraduate qualification is necessary for some science career paths, particularly research and development (R&D) roles. It can also help to secure employment in a specialist area of science. However, you can be successful in science without further study. The key is to research your options.
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Free online learning
Complete mini courses
Sign in or register with targetjobs and you can access Pathways – a range of free, short courses created by targetjobs to help you get career insights and develop your job-hunting skills.
There’s a course for whatever stage you’re at in your career journey, whether you want some help generating career ideas, you’re looking to work on skills such as commercial awareness and problem solving, you’d appreciate some LinkedIn pointers or you’re ready to give yourself an edge in applications and interviews.
Whichever topic you’ll pick, you’ll learn from industry experts and young professionals through a series of videos, quizzes and real-world activities.
Landing your dream job
The recruitment process
Start off strong
An online application system is the normal first step when you apply to a large science employer, but smaller, specialist science employers often still ask you to submit a CV and covering letter over email. Either way, you may also face some psychometric tests.
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Hanging up the lab coat
Careers outside of the lab
It’s OK if you’re questioning whether you want to stay in science or work in a lab full time. But graduate careers in science offer a lot of variety, so be sure to research all your options before you leave your degree subject behind.
There are plenty of graduate jobs that are still in the science sector but based in a classroom, office, out-of-doors or on television, for example. And if you do decide that you want a bigger change of career, you’ll be pleased to know that science graduates are in high demand in sectors such as law, IT and finance.
Start researching your options with our article on careers beyond science.
Employers in Science and research
Our top employers
Industry leaders with a large annual graduate intake.
Active employers looking for graduate talent all year round.
And many more
Other employers who are active on targetjobs , regularly posting new opportunities and events during peak seasons.
FAQs in Science and research
How much money can I make in science?
As a graduate, your starting salary will depend on your employer and your role. Many graduate schemes with large science employers offer a graduate salary of between £30,000 and £35,000. You will typically earn less with a smaller employer. Check the New Scientist Global STEM Salary Survey each year to benchmark your potential salary across the industry, but bear in mind that their salaries may take into account engineering roles, which, when looking at individual sectors, typically earn more.
Can I get science work experience?
Work experience in a laboratory will improve your chances of getting a full-time job. Large companies, particularly in industries such as pharmaceuticals and energy, offer summer internships and industrial placements (also known as years in industry or placement years). Smaller science firms and laboratories also offer work experience. You may find it helpful to apply speculatively for work experience at local science employers. Universities also offer work experience in research laboratories over the summer – often called undergraduate or vacation studentships. These opportunities are normally for second-year students considering a future in academic research.
What are the key skills needed to work in science?
For most careers in science and research, you’ll need some laboratory or technical skills related to your chosen area. However, graduate recruiters will also be looking for evidence of your transferable skills, such as logical thinking, problem solving, analytical skills, communication, teamwork and commercial awareness. These ‘soft’ skills are considered to be just as valuable as the more technical skills and knowledge you’ll have gained through your studies and work experience.
Can I become a chartered scientist?
Chartered status is an internationally recognised mark of excellence. Some science employers, particularly those who offer graduate schemes, will support you to work towards this professional qualification with the relevant scientific professional body and eventually become a chartered scientist. You should read the job description or ask the employer for more details on whether they will support you to do so.
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