Graduate jobs in science and pharmaceuticals

Jemma Smith, Editor
March, 2022

Working in a laboratory is far from your only option - science and pharmaceutical jobs span a range of functions and could see you working in hospitals, factories, offices or clinics. Discover which career is right for you

Analytical chemist

Using a range of methods to investigate the chemical composition of substances, you'll identify and understand the substance and how it behaves in different conditions.

You can work in areas such as:

  • drug formulation and development
  • chemical or forensic analysis
  • product validation
  • toxicology.

Graduate starting salaries are in the region of £18,000 to £25,000, but salaries may be higher if you have a PhD.

Gain an insight into the role of an analytical chemist.

Animal technician

You'll care for animals used in scientific and medical research, such as rats and mice, but other species are used and the different requirements of each mean that working environments vary.

You don't need a degree or HND, as many employers will be more concerned with your interest in animal care. However, these degrees may prove useful:

  • animal behaviour/management
  • biology
  • toxicology.

Find out more about animal technician salaries.

Biomedical scientist

Carrying out a range of laboratory and scientific tests on tissue samples and fluids, you'll help clinicians diagnose and treat diseases and evaluate the effectiveness of treatments.

You can work on medical conditions such as cancer, diabetes or AIDS or carry out tests for emergency blood transfusions.

In the NHS, starting salaries range from £24,214 to £30,112 (Band 5).

You'll need to register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as a biomedical scientist in the UK.

Learn more about the qualifications you need to become a biomedical scientist.

Clinical scientist jobs

Roles in clinical science cover a variety of specialisms. You could work in audiology and assess, diagnose and treat patients with hearing and balance problems, in immunology where you'll work with people with a range of immune system disorders or in haematology where you'll carry out tests on patients with blood abnormalities to name a few.

Community pharmacist

You'll be responsible for dispensing and distributing medicine and maintaining and improving people's health. You'll sell over-the-counter medical products and instruct members of the public on the use of medicines and medical appliances.

Salaries for pre-registration trainees range from £16,000 to over £20,000. Starting salaries for community pharmacists are in the region of £30,000 to £35,000, depending on location.

Learn more about the pharmacy courses and the skills you'll need to become a community pharmacist.

Crime scene investigator

Sometimes known as scenes of crime officers or forensic scene investigators, it's your job to secure and protect crime scenes, and collect evidence from crime scenes, post-mortems and other incidents.

You're also responsible for processing and categorising evidence, so it can be used in criminal investigations.

Find out what to expect from a job as a crime scene investigator.

Food technologist

It's your job to make sure food products are produced safely, legally and to the quality claimed. You'll develop manufacturing processes and recipes of food and drink products, modify foods to create fat-free items and work on existing and newly-discovered ingredients to invent new recipes.

You'll benefit from having a food-related degree such as:

  • food, nutrition and health
  • food safety and quality management
  • food science/technology.

Take a look at what you can earn as a food technologist.

Forensic scientist

You'll provide scientific evidence to support the prosecution or defence in criminal and civil investigations. You'll search for and examine contact trace material such as blood, hairs and clothing fibres.

To work as a forensic scientist you'll need either a degree in a scientific subject, such as biological sciences or chemistry, or a degree in forensic science.

Salaries for forensic scientists start at £20,000.

Discover more about working a forensic scientist.

Medicinal chemist

You'll discover new drugs, help to create more effective medicines and design and create new pharmaceutically active molecules to combat a particular disease or condition.

There are a range of job titles by which you may be known - such as synthetic organic chemist, (graduate) scientist and research chemist.

To become a medicinal chemist you'll need a degree-level chemistry qualification and to have a good grasp of synthetic and organic chemistry.

Take a look at the responsibilities of a medicinal chemist.

Medical science liaison

Also known as an MSL or medical scientific adviser you'll be the company expert on drugs bridging the gap between clinicians, researchers and the pharmaceutical industry.

Providing clinicians with accurate and balanced information about a specific drug so that they can make decisions on how to use it you'll usually be assigned a geographical area to cover, and will specialise in a particular drug, medical device or therapeutic area.

Find out more about the salary and progression opportunities of a medical science liaison.


You'll predict the weather and study the causes of weather conditions using information obtained from the land, sea and upper atmosphere.

Learn more about the role of meteorologists and discover why you should study meteorology.


By understanding microbes, microbiologists aim to solve a range of problems affecting health, the environment, climate and food and agriculture. You can work on the prevention, diagnosis and control of infections and disease, ensuring that food is safe, or on developing green technologies.

You'll need a good honours degree in a relevant subject such as:

  • applied biology
  • biomedical sciences
  • molecular biology.

Read up on what to expect as a microbiologist.


Jobs involve manipulating matter on the nanoscale (one billionth of a metre). You'll develop new materials and equipment as well as drugs and diagnostic tools. Nanotechnology encompasses science, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and computer science.

To enter into research in nanotechnology you'll need a good honours degree as well as either a research-based MSc or PhD.

Take a look at the skills you'll need as a nanotechnologist.


Aiming to understand how medicines work, you'll conduct research to aid drug discovery and development, investigate how drugs interact with biological systems and carry out in vitro or in vivo research to predict what effect certain drugs might have on humans.

You'll need a scientific degree in pharmacology or a related subject such as:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • toxicology.

An MSc or PhD in pharmacology or a related subject is advantageous.

Learn more about what you could earn as a pharmacologist.

Research science jobs

As a research scientist you'll be at the forefront of scientific investigation as you plan, lead and carry out experiments in a range of different fields.

Science writing, education and outreach

Putting your scientific knowledge to use as a secondary school teacher, further education teacher or higher education lecturer involves planning and delivering lessons as well as observing, recording and assessing pupils progress. You’ll need to keep up to date with developments in your field and changing teaching methods.

Job opportunities also exist in science outreach where you could work somewhere like the Science Museum as a museum education officer developing and delivering high-quality and dynamic programmes of learning and participation for classes, groups or individuals.

As a science writer you'll research, write and edit scientific news, articles and features, for business, trade and professional publications, specialist scientific and technical journals, and the general media.

Learn more about the role of a science writer and discover 10 alternative science careers.

Teaching laboratory technician

Working in educational institutions, you'll support the work of science teachers, lecturers and students.

Discover more about the role of a teaching laboratory technician and read about the three best things about working as a lab technician.


You'll identify, monitor and evaluate the impact of toxic materials, chemicals, potential new medicines and radiation on the environment and human and animal health.

Other responsibilities include planning and carrying out laboratory and field studies.

Relevant degree courses include:

  • food, crop, soil and environmental sciences
  • forensic, chemical and physical sciences
  • medical and veterinary sciences.

Take a look at what you could earn as a toxicologist.

Other science and pharmaceutical jobs

Find out more

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