Career options for Chemistry, Biology, and Pharmacy & Pharmacology researchers
Find out about the different career options available if you're undertaking research in Chemistry, Biology or Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
Broadly speaking, your options are the same as those for researchers in other disciplines; see the career options for researchers page for more details. The aim of this page is to look at some career options that may be particularly suitable for researchers in your field. One important question to ask yourself is the extent to which you want to use your subject in any future career moves. It's entirely your choice - you will have acquired and developed many skills during your time as a researcher which are complementary to the scientific and technical skills you might think define your career choice.
If you'd like to continue using your subject and would like some ideas as to how, see details of what previous Bath doctoral graduates in your subject have gone on to do.
You might want to continue in science as a whole but move out of the lab. There are many professions which would value your PhD, including pharmaceutical or agricultural company technical specialists or sales representatives, scientific market analyst, health and safety specialists, environmental and conservation officers, patent attorneys, data science, bioinformatics, regulatory affairs officers, science communication, scientific journal editing, technical or medical writing and science policy and strategy. Teaching can also be an attractive option.
If you are interested in using your subject in a more clinical setting, you could consider working in the various specialisms of clinical science or, depending on the focus of your PhD, clinical trials (as a clinical research associate). These jobs would all require some element of further study or on-the-job retraining, and have differing career progressions, but are interesting options for using your subject in a practical, but not research-driven, way. Entry into clinical science is usually through the NHS Scientist Training Programme.
Management consulting, which involves helping organisations to solve problems and improve business performance, values the high level research and problem-solving skills of PhD students, and some companies, such as Mckinsey and The Boston Consulting group, have specific entry routes for PhD students. If you are interested in combining consultancy and your scientific knowledge, it's worth bearing in mind that some of the larger consultancy and professional services firms provide life sciences consultancy to healthcare, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies. For life scientists, there are also specialist life science consultancies.
For more information on what these jobs involve, check out the 'Information sources' section below.
Options outside of your subject
If you're not sure that you want to use your subject anymore, don't despair! You have many skills and experiences that are highly valuable to employers and you can choose from the huge range of graduate jobs on offer, from structured training with large financial services firms to analysing policy for governmental departments. The key is to think of the skills you have and enjoy using, and explore occupations that use them to suggest possible alternatives. For information on different types of jobs, explore the job profiles on the Prospects.ac.uk.
- To find out more about academic career pathways in your discipline, see the career options page and talk to academics in your department.
- Prospects.ac.uk - in particular see the information on What can I do with my degree? for subject-related careers information.
- The occupational research section of the Careers Service website contains further links and resources for science-related careers.
- Alternative careers in science (Careers Service publication).
- Careers in biosciences & pharmaceuticals (Careers Service publication).
- Careers in medicine, dentistry & allied health (Careers Service publication).
- Careers in scientific analysis and R&D (Careers Service publication).
- The Society of Experimental Biology has career profiles for research bio scientists, guides to research in industry and links to vacancy and funding sources.
- The Royal Society of Biology has a careers section.
- The Royal Society of Chemistry has careers advice and information, some of which is open to non-members.
- British Pharmacological Society
- Biochemical Society has jobs and careers information.
- The Society for the Chemical Industry sometimes organises specialist careers events.
- ABPI Careers - information on careers within the British Pharmaceutical Industry.
- British Toxicology Society has a useful careers section.
- Medical Communications Network - advice and information on working in medical communications, including a guide to getting into the industry.
- The British Science Association - information and advice on working in science communication. Includes a careers section.
- Institute of Clinical Research
- BioscienceCareers has lots of useful articles, links, sample CVs and suggested career options for research bio-scientists.
- Career Planning for Research Bioscientists - excellent book available in the library covering career planning strategies, self-marketing and bioscience-related careers information. Has a companion website.
- Association of British Science Writers has information and advice.
- Working in Science Policy - blog post from Queen Mary researcher's blog with some useful links and resources.
- Scientists for Global Responsibility - ethical careers in science and technology. Has a useful directory of employers.
- Management Consultancies Association - organisation representing consultancy industry. Includes careers resources and vacancy listings.
Where to look for jobs in your field
See the vacancies page for academic, research and research-related jobs.
Careers Service MyFuture database - look at the vacancies relevant to your subject area and also in the sections 'For PhD Students' and 'For Postdocs'. Use the 'organisations' function to identify potential employers that you may want to work for or could approach speculatively.
- Applied Industrial Research Trading Organisations - has a directory of industrial research organisations.
- UK Science Park Associations - use to identify and research industrial research organisations. Consider speculative approaches, particularly to smaller firms and firms that work in areas that are closely related to your research area.
- Chemistry World
- Rigzone - many Chemical Engineering jobs but some Chemistry research ones.
- PJ Online
- ABPI Careers - has links to pharmaceutical recruiters.
- MRC - the Medical Research Council advertises vacancies in research (including early career fellowships), scientific and technical support and administration and management.
- Institute of Clinical Research
- Individual company websites (use our Find out about employers page to identify potential employers).
- Gradcracker - has large number of graduate vacancies in science and engineering.
- Scientific Recruitment Agencies - comprehensive list provided by the University of Kent
Non lab-based jobs in science
Again, there is a wide variety of possible chemistry-related employment and so this list is not intended to be exhaustive.
- ChemistryWorld and NewScientist - they really are the places where jobs related to science are advertised. Jobs advertised here might include those editing scientific publications, or informatics and web application positions. For those interested in a career in technical specialist and chemical sales roles try individual company websites (again, use our Find out about employers page to find them). For pharmaceutical sales, visit pharmajobs.co.uk.
- For jobs in the public sector, check out Civil Service Jobs. You may also be interested in the Science and Engineering Stream of the Civil Service Fast Stream.
- Work in the clinical trials field is popular with Pharmacy and Pharmacology postgraduates. The best job sites in this sector are Institute of Clinical Research, eMedCareers and Pharmiweb.
- For jobs and work experience in science communication, it's well worth joining the psci-com mailing list. Also check out the jobs board of the British Science Association. Other vacancy and information sites for science communication can be found in the University of Oxford Guide to Science Alternatives.
- For jobs in technology transfer, check out ResearchProfessional.
- For jobs in scientific publishing, try NewScientist and Guardian Jobs. Atwood Tate is a recruitment agency which often advertises scientific and medical publishing roles.
- For jobs in science policy, try NewScientist and Guardian Jobs. The Campaign for Science and Engineering publish some vacancies on their website.