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Career Options in Science: Graduate

Calling all science graduates: the time is well and truly nigh to get applying for career opportunities in the sciences if you want to stick to what you know and develop a future using your degree subject.  

Graduate opportunities in sciences

- Internships

- Graduate schemes

- Further academic study

If you got a 2:1 or equivalent in your undergraduate studies you will be eligible for many postgraduate opportunities in the sciences. There are plenty of funding opportunities to explore to help you with course fees, and in some cases living costs too! You might want to consider this option if you want to deepen your knowledge of a particular area of science to give you an edge in applications for a certain role. Though not always necessary, employers will value Master’s level qualifications. And if you want to become a professional researcher, lecturer/professor, it’s a must!

Extended internships are also an option for science graduates. Depending on your degree discipline, you could apply for an internship programme with a pharmaceuticals or healthcare company, food manufacturer, research institute, automobile or aviation company, chemicals industry company, oil and energy company, or even in aerospace and defence. These internships can vary in length from a few weeks to up to a year or more, and are often paid. An internship can be excellent for developing new skills and contacts, and could even lead to a permanent job ultimately.

And then, of course, there are the graduate jobs to apply for! Most large companies will have an annual intake of graduates, so if you want to get started straight away after university you might have missed the boat if you didn’t apply in your final year. If you’re waiting for a role with a particular company, you could do an internship in the meantime and apply when the application window opens again. 

Will my degree do?

Understandably, your degree subject will matter a little bit more for careers in this sector compared to some other sectors, where a wider base of knowledge and skills can be transferable to their careers.

Sciences demand highly specialised knowledge and understanding from the off which can’t just be picked up on the job, so a relevant science degree discipline will be essential in many cases.  An arts graduate, for example, will generally not have the right qualifications and knowledge necessary for graduate entry roles in areas of hard core scientific research. Arts and social sciences may however fit into areas such as marketing, sales or legal teams for pharmaceutical, medical and engineering companies, research institutes or charities for scientific research. Your degree needs to some strong relation to the area of science you wish to work in.

The majority of employers state that their positions require a 2:1. A 2:2 will still be accepted by some employers, particularly if you have some good experience on your CV, but bear in mind that it’s competitive out there. An internship may help you along the way if you’re struggling to get anyway with graduate applications.

Is postgraduate study necessary?

If you want to head into a career of academic research in any line of science then you won’t be surprised to hear that postgraduate study is a necessity. You’ll most likely have to take your studies up to PhD level.

There are a number of graduate roles available across each area of science which will be an option for you with an undergraduate degree. However, in some cases a Master’s qualification will be an advantage. Not a problem for those of you who graduated with a Master’s qualification from your undergraduate years! If you graduated with a BSc, you might want to consider Master’s study if you want to go for highly competitive roles; though don’t underestimate the power of a CV filled with relevant work experience – this could make up for lack of a Master’s!