Find out which careers in this sector require specific degrees, and what skills and work experience you need

For many jobs in this sector you will need a science or maths degree. Some roles demand particular qualifications, for example an analytical chemist will need a degree in chemistry. Employers usually consider graduates of any degree discipline for commercial roles.

Some employers have a number of different graduate programmes and may have specific requirements for each one. For example, GlaxoSmithKline look for an economics, biomedical, biology or pharmacology graduates for their health outcomes programme.

You don't always need a degree to enter the industry, although it can help. An alternative is the Developing Science Professional programme. There are apprenticeships aimed at those working in life sciences, chemical science, process development, healthcare science and food science. Find out more at Developing Science Professionals.

For information on entry requirements and relevant qualifications, see job profiles.

What skills do employers want?

Skills needed in the science and pharmaceuticals sector can vary, but as a general rule, you will need:

  • a methodical approach and attention to detail;
  • analytical skills and logical thinking;
  • excellent numeracy skills;
  • problem-solving skills;
  • scientific, technical or research skills.

Where can I get work experience?

Four year science-based sandwich degrees offer a year in industry where you can gain valuable knowledge and technical skills. However, if your course does not provide a compulsory placement, you could consider applying directly to companies for schemes.

Some of the larger companies in the sector offer summer internships for penultimate year students, Examples include GlaxoSmithKline, the Met Office and Reckitt Benckiser (RB). Some also offer short taster experiences for first year students. In many cases these are talent spotting exercises and if you perform well you can be fast tracked to a graduate scheme.

The Wellcome Trust offers internships in a variety of roles relating to its work in biomedical research. For more information, visit Wellcome Trust - Work Placements and Internships.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) offers internships and these are advertised at Graduate Talent Pool.

To find more work placements and internships in the science and pharmaceuticals sector, search for work experience.

How do I find a graduate job in science and pharmaceuticals?

Large science-based companies will advertise vacancies for graduate schemes and jobs on their websites. You can search for jobs in trade magazines and the specialist press, such as New Scientist, or through sector-specific recruitment agencies.

Professional bodies not only advertise graduate roles but also provide advice to job hunters looking for work. For example, the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) advertises vacancies on their website.

To find jobs in the science and pharmaceuticals sector, search graduate jobs.