Physiology opens doors to many careers in science and healthcare, with employers such as the NHS or the armed forces
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Biomedical scientist
- Clinical research associate
- Clinical scientist, audiology
- Clinical scientist, physiological sciences
- Exercise physiologist
- Research scientist (medical)
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Clinical scientist, cardiac sciences
- Medical sales representative
- Science writer
- Secondary school teacher
- Therapeutic radiographer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
It's useful to find work experience in an area related to the career you'd like to enter. A placement in a hospital department is valuable when applying for clinical physiology posts. Some degrees offer this type of experience as part of the course, but you can always be proactive and make speculative arrangements for a placement yourself. Try contacting relevant departments in local hospitals and clinics and don't be disheartened if you're not offered a place straight away, perseverance is important.
Laboratory experience and knowledge of the range of techniques used can also be helpful, particularly for research posts.
Any other part-time, vacation or volunteering work which demonstrates your interest in your chosen field, is also useful.
Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships. You can find more information from the following resources:
The major scientific employers of physiology graduates are:
- research centres and academic institutions
- pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
- the National Health Service (NHS) - specialist areas include cardiac sciences, audiology, neurophysiology, critical care science, respiratory physiology, sleep physiology and gastrointestinal (GI) physiology
- private sector hospitals, medical centres and healthcare organisations.
The armed forces also employ clinical physiologists. Further employment opportunities can be found with scientific publishers, educational settings such as secondary schools or colleges - as a science teacher, and with scientific sales and marketing companies.
Non-scientific employers include:
- management consultancies
- law and accountancy firms
- banks and other financial institutions
- retail companies.
Skills for your CV
Studying physiology teaches you how the human body works, both in sickness and in health. It also helps you develop skills in planning, conducting/evaluating experiments, and researching and interpreting scientific literature. You also develop the ability to communicate science to both peers and non-scientists.
You gain a range of skills sought by both scientific and non-scientific employers, including:
- analytical and problem-solving
- using judgement, decision-making and questioning
- the ability to identify, select, organise and communicate information and data
- computing, statistics and numeracy
- attention to detail
- planning, organisation and time management
- teamworking and collaborating between groups
- persistence and resilience to retry experiments.
Some physiology graduates choose to undertake a second undergraduate degree, such as medicine or dentistry. There may be fast-track options available in these instances, due to the previous study completed.
Some go on to become clinical scientists by undertaking further training and study on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).
Others pursue a postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MRes or PhD in physiology. In academia, a PhD is generally required to obtain a lectureship. In industry, some large employers, such as major pharmaceutical companies, may sponsor a relevant part-time Masters or PhD.
It's also possible to move away from pure physiology by studying an MSc or diploma in related subjects such as forensic science or toxicology. Or you could opt to change career direction by studying something different, such as law or computing.
What do physiology graduates do?
The top five jobs reported by physiology graduates include other health professionals (8%), pharmacists (6%), medical and dental technicians (6%), nursing auxiliaries and assistants (6%), and biochemists and biomedical scientists (5%).
|Working and studying||16.1|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Childcare, health and education||113.5|
|Clerical, secretarial, administrative||9.6|
For a detailed breakdown of what physics graduates are doing after graduation, see What do graduates do?
Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.