Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology graduates

Lifescience researcher/research assistant

Primarily involved in planning and conducting experiments and analysing results, either with a definite end use (e.g. to develop new products, processes or commercial applications) or to broaden scientific understanding in general. Researchers and assistants might work for universities, pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies, food and drink, private hospitals and NHS trusts, clinical research organisations, research councils and their associated institutes, health-related charities or science consultancies. A PhD is often required to progress beyond assistant roles alongside tenacity, problem solving and multidisciplinary teamwork.

Academic lecturing/teaching

Higher education lecturers/teachers teach their subject to undergraduate and postgraduate students via lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical demonstrations and e-learning. Lecturers also pursue their own research with the aim of having this published in scholarly publications to help raise their institution's profile. Administrative tasks are significant and many lecturers/teachers also take on a pastoral role with their students. Having a PhD is a pre-requiste alongside experience such as research assistant or teaching assistant/demonstrator in HE.

NHS healthcare scientist

The NHS Scientists Training Programme (STP) provides on-the-job training and a Masters qualification for individuals who aim to become future managers, with responsibility for progressing the service and strategic developments in their specialist area, within NHS budgets. Specialist areas include clinical bioinformatics, life sciences, physiological sciences and biomechanical engineering. It’s quite different to being at the cutting edge of discovery as a researcher. If you’d prefer something more hands-on in the lab then technician or healthcare science associate roles may be more appropriate.

Data analyst

Data analysts are in high demand across all sectors, including pharmaceuticals, finance, manufacturing, government and education. They work across broad areas including business intelligence, data assurance, data quality, sales and marketing. You might work for the organisation itself, e.g. a pharmaceutical company, or for a consultancy working on their behalf. Alternative job titles might include value analyst or business intelligence analyst.

Health economist

Health economists may be employed by a pharmaceutical or biotech company to model and forecast or develop a strategic plan for a new product. Others might work for government departments and the NHS, within private consultancies and within universities, research institutions and organisations such as think-tanks to analyse the effects that lifestyle choices have on health and examining the costs and benefits of health care policies. A postgraduate degree in health economics is required along with strong analytical skills.

Patent attorney/patent examiner

Patent attorneys use their intellectual property law knowledge to lead individual inventors or companies through the required process to obtain a patent, draft the patent and then act to enforce inventors' rights if patents are infringed. They might work patent agents, very large industrial organisations or government bodies. Patent examiners, working for either the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) or the European Patent Office (EPO), check that the invention is new, clear and inventive, not merely an adjustment to something which already exists.

Regulatory affairs

Regulatory affairs officers ensure the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of products (including pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines, agrochemicals, cosmetics and therapeutic devices) in order to control the safety and efficacy of those products. It requires a combination of scientific, legal and business knowledge to ensure products being developed, manufactured or distributed by a range of companies meet the required legislation. Work experience or an internship in the pharmaceutical industry can be useful and provides insight into the industry as a whole.

Clinical trials coordinator/manager

Employed within the public and private sector working for organisations such as the NHS, universities, pharmaceutical sector and contract research organisations or consultancies, a clinical trials coordinator/manager will undertake the project management and overall management responsibilities for a clinical trial. Responsible for planning, co-ordinating and completing the project a clinical trials coordinator will have excellent communication and presentation skills, together with the ability to organise and motivate others.

Science communication

Science communicators present science-related topics to non-experts, including the general public as well as professionals in other disciplines. Opportunities range from schools outreach in HE to scientific events management with science communication agencies, public relations roles with learned societies, or education officer roles in science museums. Some of the larger charities, e.g. Cancer Research UK or Wellcome Trust, may offer graduate schemes in areas like policy, public engagement and communications. Science communication also includes scientific publishing, journalism and broadcasting.

Civil Service

The Civil Service is made up of a large number of different departments, which implement government policies and deliver services to the public. Some administrators may have direct dealings with members of the public whereas others might conduct research, compile reports and work on policy documents. In addition to administration and executive officer positions, some departments offer Civil Service Fast Stream opportunities for graduates. Departments of specific interest to scientists include POST, GORS, GO-Science, MHRA but there are many more.

Subject specific resources