Employment opportunities for Biomedical Science students are varied. For instance, some will work in the science sector whilst others will pursue careers in a wide variety of sectors.
This guide will help you to consider the wide range of career options open to you as well as helping you to find relevant work experience to pursue the career path of your choice.
As a Biomedical Science student you may be thinking of working as a Biomedical Scientist in the NHS and to do this you will need to have completed a placement in an IBMS approved NHS training laboratory and have successfully completed the IBMS registration portfolio to apply to the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). This allows you then to practise as a qualified Biomedical Scientist following graduation.
If you have not completed a placement within an IBMS approved laboratory, then after graduation you can apply for a role in an NHS laboratory e.g. as an Associate Practioner via the NHS jobsite to start working towards your IBMS registration portfolio.
An alternative route into a clinical role in the NHS for a Biomedical Scientist would be via the NHS Scientist Training programme. The Scientist Training Programme (STP) is a three-year training programme that includes work-based and academic learning. Whilst on the programme you will also complete a part-time master's degree at the university offering your chosen specialism. The aim of the STP is to attract, select and retain the very best people to clinical scientist posts.
As well as the above options there are numerous other roles that a Biomedical Science student could consider. These include a wide range of clinical roles in the NHS, roles in the Pharmaceutical Industry, roles in education settings as well as in more commercial environments. In these roles, the skills you will develop during your academic studies will be useful. The skills you will develop include the following:
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Computing and the use of statistics
- Data analysis, evaluation and interpretation
- Project management
- Organisation and time management
- Oral and written communication
- Team working
- Lab skills
- Adult or Mental Health Nurse
- General Practice or Hospital Doctor
- Healthcare Scientist via NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)
- Physician Associate
Roles in the pharmaceutical industry
Roles in education
- Higher Education lecturer
- Secondary School Teacher
- Scientific Laboratory Technician
- Further Education Lecturer
Roles in non NHS laboratories
Other roles you might consider
Types of organisations that recruit biomedical students
The list below provides a flavour of the many public and private organisations who employ biomedical science students, the list is not exhaustive but it could help you to develop ideas where to look for opportunities, research organisations and help you in your job search.
- Hospitals and public health organisations (including NHS trusts)
- Specific government departments and agencies or government-funded research institutions
- Environmental agencies
- Food manufacturing business
- Utility companies
- Research and forensic science institutions
- Forensic and paternity DNA testing laboratories
- Pharmaceutical and chemical companies
- Manufacturing companies (cosmetics, food and textiles, plastic)
- Food and drink industry
- Brewery companies
- Clinical research associations
- Medical sales companies
- Pharmaceutical companies and drug manufacturers
- Publishing companies that specialise in science
- Private pathology and diagnostic laboratories
- Research institutes
It goes without saying that any experience that you can gain that is relevant to your career goals is going to be of benefit to you. The job profiles on Prospects and the job descriptions on Targetjobs are both excellent sources of information regarding what sort of experience you might need to gain as well as ideas on how to find this experience. The section that follows focuses on how you could go about gaining lab based experience whilst you are studying.
How to get laboratory based work experience
If you know you want to get into a laboratory based role, securing some laboratory work experience is valuable as you gain valuable first-hand experience of working in a laboratory but also shows to an employer your commitment and interest in the field. Experience can be gained in a number of different settings:
Hospitals sometimes offer lab-based placements. Try approaching the principal clinical scientist in your local NHS trust hospital. You may have to go through the HR department.
Contact the hospital hospitals directly. Most hospitals will have an approved training laboratory, although this doesn't automatically mean that they will take on a trainee.
Public Health England has regional offices across the UK. It’s also worth contacting their laboratories directly. You could approach employers to see if it would be possible to work-shadow someone in their work.
Laboratories in education based settings
You can find lab-based work experience through contacting your University department. Check with your tutor and/or contact your Faculty. They may be looking for laboratory work/support for Masters, or PhD students during vacations or term time.
Opportunities in academia can be found at jobs.ac.uk.
You can find lab based opportunities within schools and colleges. Lab based opportunities within schools are often advertised on county council websites, for example Hampshire County Council or city council websites, for example Portsmouth City Council and colleges (further education) also advertise lab opportunities.
Lots of pharma companies take on placement students and interns every year. If you are interested in gaining experience with a major company in one of the world's largest and most profitable industries, then you should consider undertaking some laboratory work experience in a pharmaceutical organisation.
Below are some organisations offering a summer placement. However, please check their websites regularly as the deadline for some of these opportunities are very early.
Research organisations laboratories
Some examples are listed below:
- Francis Crick Institute
- Wellcome Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- Nuffield Foundation
- National Physical Laboratory
- Medical Research Council
There are also a number of private medical laboratories in the UK – you can find many of the larger companies providing medical laboratory services listed on privatehealth.co.uk.
Veterinary diagnostic labs may also offer work experience, use a search engine to see where your nearest one is.
Other ways to develop your skills and gain experience
If you are keen to get experience but not necessarily in a laboratory setting you can find out more about summer internships and placement through:
- Ratemyplacement – you can find the latest internships and placements with top employers in the science industry
- Cogent Skills – advertises summer internship in science-using companies across the UK in lab, plant, and office-based job roles
Volunteering and part time employment are both other ways in which you could develop new skills and gain experience.
Volunteering: Become one the University’s STEM Ambassador roles helping to promote STEM subjects. Working in schools and after-school clubs you will play a vital role in encouraging more young people to consider STEM careers as well as boosting your confidence and professional skills.
MyCareer advertises volunteering opportunities to get involved in different community projects with a variety of clients.
Part-time employment: Try and get some work experience dealing with patients as a care worker, or after school clubs, sports clubs. MyCareer also advertises paid part time opportunities.
Speculative approaches to secure work experience
You might be looking for advertised vacancies and applying by responding to job vacancies, however a good proportion of work experience may not be advertised. Employers are sometimes willing to take on volunteers and may allow individuals to work-shadow. Sourcing your own work experience can be a great way to make contacts with future employers.
If you are keen to get work experience, you need to be proactively searching for opportunities. This is usually referred to as a speculative approach.
However approaching companies directly for work experience or job opportunities requires initiative and research. Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you. Check their websites for information of any vacancies or any areas of interest to you. Apply for work experience speculatively by sending a targeted CV and a cover letter focused on why you are interested in them and what skills you can offer them. Remember to be positive explaining and evidencing your skills and how they would be relevant.
To help you start your search to find potential contacts and employers for your work experience, a good starting point could be the UK Science Research parks. They are located throughout the UK and they house privatised or semi-privatised laboratories and employ a number of technicians, often on a contract basis. Investigating companies and organisations located in local science parks is a great way to identify potential employers and companies who may be able to provide work experience opportunities.
- UK Science Parks Association – Lists science parks in the UK, by region. Useful for identifying companies and research organisations. Under the "UKSPA member section" you will over 100 Innovation Locations Centre grouped into geographical areas. Find the geographical area that interest you and you will find the contact details of a wide range of research employers websites and details which you can use to approach speculatively potential employers.
Websites that could provide useful contacts
- ABPI Careers – has a list of pharmaceutical recruiters on its site, which can be used to contact companies about potential work experience opportunities.
- One Nucleus – includes a list of biotech company clusters which you could approach for work experience or finding employment
- Key-word searches on LinkedIn to find companies in your region and sector. For more information on how to create your LinkedIn profile and how to use
Other ways to generate ideas for getting experience or a job
You could also look at organisations who have recruited University of Portsmouth graduates from your course in the past.
You can also use LinkedIn to find job opportunities, get in contact with employers and also previous graduates of your course.
Useful website resources:
- You can search for graduate roles on the NHS jobs board
- If you want to find out more about opportunities within the NHS, you can find out more about opportunities and research roles please check the NHS Career tool website
- emedcareers – jobs board advertising vacancies
- Laboratory News
- naturecareers – jobs board advertising vacancies
- Institute of Cancer Research Job vacancies
- Contract research organisations and pharmaceutical companies may advertise vacancies on their own websites – search them in your local area
- New Scientist Jobs – comprehensive website for science and technology jobs as well as careers advice and interview tips
- MyCareer – advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy team that delivers a personalised matching job service.
The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:
- Career options
- Further study
- CV and covering letters
- Application forms
- Job search
We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.
You can also access our services by calling or emailing us:
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone us: +44 (0)2392 842684