Finding a job after studying a biomedical science degree is usually the most important thing on the mind of a potential BMS graduate. The fear for many is that once they enrol on a biomedical science program, they will graduate with a useless degree and be forced to pivot into another entirely different field.
While this can sometimes be the case for certain graduates, on the whole, biomedical science graduates typically end up working in a health-related field and can find work, granted they have sufficient experience and competence in a relevant field.
We will explore six time-tested and highly successful routes that graduates are using to find work after studying a biomedical science, biochemistry, or bioscience degree in 2020 and 2021.
Route 1 – Research and Development in the Biological Drug Industry
R & D in the drug industry is seldom considered as a career option after graduating from a biomedical science degree, however, this route is one of a select few that actually allows graduates to find employment straight after studying a bioscience degree.
This is because entry-level researcher positions constantly need to be filled since the pharmaceutical industry is always looking to develop new medications. The job usually revolves around testing biological samples for purity and quality control purposes. This will mainly be carried out on biological drugs like enzymes, proteins, and hormones.
You will be using techniques such as ELISA, centrifugation, chromatography, and various gel filtration techniques. These are very common techniques that you will cover extensively in any bioscience degree.
You will also be involved in the write-ups to document your findings. This will be used by your superiors to advice the drug production chain and make changes to production techniques if necessary.
A role like this will be in high demand now more than ever with the constantly growing population and the fear of new diseases, rapid drug production and testing is a key job prospect for any biomedical student.
Route 2 – Statistics and Epidemiology
Most bioscience students usually don’t consider maths and statistics a strong suite of theirs, however, this subset of biological studies is increasingly picking up momentum in the world of employment.
Statistics is simply the analysis of data, and epidemiology is the application of statistics to medicine and how incidences of a disease contribute to the distribution and possible control of disease spread.
For biologists with interests in computing, statistics, and numbers crunching, the field of Public Health may be the perfect match. Public health is widely encompassing and covers topics like global health, health behaviour, and health policies, so even if statistics and maths aren’t of great interest, you may still enjoy the field.
Don’t however expect to land a job in statistics or epidemiology with only an undergraduate bioscience degree. Most epidemiologists have a bioscience or medical background but continue onto a Masters in Public Health (MPH) program for 1 year and later complete a 3-year post-doctorate degree such as PhD.
You may also choose to study an MSc in Infectious disease if the MPH program doesn’t suite you. The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is a postgraduate research institution which provides a superb distance learning course for qualified graduates around the world.
It is a world leading provider of Public Health courses and a degree from them, even by distance learning should drastically increase your employability and working prospects compared to graduates from competing institutions.
7 years spent studying sounds like a lengthy amount of time to find work, however, these days this is the norm. And with brilliant government funded loans and schemes, you can fund your studies with relative ease and not have to worry about the financial side of things.
This gives you a strong motive to focus on getting the best possible degree you can manage which will aid you in finding the best possible job and stand out from your competition.
Route 3 – Institutional Researcher and Lecturer
The majority of students studying for an undergraduate degree never picture themselves doing the job of their lecturers. Indeed, a minority of graduates will target this route to eventually become an academic. It is a lengthy route however it is almost guaranteed to end up granting you employment, whether at your own institution or elsewhere.
The path to become an academic researcher will almost always require you to gain a PhD before you are even qualified to apply for work. The brilliant thing however is that after getting a PhD, you will usually have 100s of work positions you can apply for.
You may not even need to study for a masters degree in-between since some institutions will allow undergraduate students to enrol directly onto a PhD program depending on the level of their undergraduate performance. This removes at least 1 year from your potential employment.
University institutions are constantly losing members of staff from key faculties which they must immediately fill if they want to avoid any legal issues. This is good news for postdoctoral researchers since usually the only additional requirement is a minimum of 1 year working experience.
It is almost a certainty that you will have already met this requirement in your doctoral studies since most PhD students spend time working within the faculty, teaching classes and helping out with demonstration sessions. This experience is something you should actively seek out if you are interested in such a route.
We are potentially experiencing a world where the majority of teaching will be done online with remote instructors who may not even have any real-world lecturing experience. Many colleagues and lecturers of mine have now started taking online teaching jobs for the purposes of growing their teaching portfolio but also to support themselves full time.
The only commitment is that you must embark on some kind of postgraduate or do doctoral course with the hopes of pursuing postdoctoral research.
Route 4 – Business Management
Scientists often wouldn’t consider themselves business savvy. As a result, the number of biologists who end up going into management is therefore very little. This is however a good thing since it means if you choose to do so, you will be met with little competition from your peers.
Ideally you will have a BSc in a biomedical science-related topic, and an MSc in management which will give you a strong grounding in the skills required to manage a team working in biotechnology or pharmaceuticals.
Studying a masters with a title similar to ‘Biomedical Science and Business Management’ will allow you to recap your understand of cellular and molecular biology, while also helping you develop better ways of diagnosing and managing the disease, cutting down costs in the process.
You will get access to various cutting-edge technologies used in drug discovery, genetic screening and sample detection.
Business management within the bioscience sphere often involves managing teams and budgets for various clients in order to produce a biomedical product in a cost-effective manner. This could include managing the production of vaccines, hormones drugs or pharmaceuticals. As a result, MSc students usually undertake a business research project that will focus on planning and developing a business idea on a bioscience subject matter.
In essence, they will apply all their business knowledge to a real-life project, working alongside fellow students and university researchers to put theory into practice!
There are many, all be it competitive, internships that aspiring business managers can enrol on. Many of them are open to newly qualified undergraduates, while some require a more advanced degree.
Bag any of these internships and you may even land yourself a paid role and a job offer if your line manager enjoys your work ethic.
Route 5 – Computational Bioinformatics
Computational Bioinformatics also simply referred to as bioinformatics is a slowly growing branch of biological science concerned with performing complex programmatic computations on large datasets.
It is often overlooked because of its intimidating sounding name however any bio-scientist interested in doing research will eventually encounter bioinformatics at some point.
With enough determination, it can be learnt in 1 year via the MSc in Bioinformatics course that many universities offer.
The course can be challenging for individuals with little to no experience in computer science so ideally prospective bioinformatics students must have a background in programming languages like python, R or Wolfram Language.
With a solid grounding in any of these languages, graduates typically go straight into job roles after completing an MSc in bioinformatics. The typical job role to expect after your studies include biological analyst, genetics researcher, or a general data analyst who may even work outside the field of bioinformatics.
As a bioinformatics graduate, you should expect to find employment in hospitals, genetics labs and general-purpose research labs crunching numbers and writing novel code that may utilize machine learning in order to extract useful pieces of information from Big Data and potentially predict future trends in results.
This is a highly useful and growing market especially for hospitals and publicly funded organisations that need to predict future trends in diseases, treatments, and novel therapies in order to save money and benefit a larger population.
Route 6 – Physician Associate
On the first mention, most people dislike the Physician Associate role as they believe it to be more of an accessory role to the more prominent physician/doctor role.
Physician associates aren’t nurses, they aren’t healthcare workers, they are simply a new addition to the medical workforce aimed at reducing the general workload of the physician while providing excellent continuity in care as a nurse would.
This is because of their constant presence on a ward or department, making them a better option than just increasing the number of junior doctors who are constantly rotating around different wards.
Physician associates perform very similar tasks to physicians including diagnosing patients, taking medical histories, and developing management plans within the scope of their training. They work under a supervising physician however in their day-to-day they are mostly working autonomously, doing similar tasks to that of a junior doctor.
The job role is increasingly becoming more competitive and soon will become over applied and subscribed to since there are very limited places available. It is, however, a rewarding undertaking and only requires an extra 2 years studying for the MSc in Physician associate studies.
Many colleagues of mine have gone this route, and after 3 years of undergraduate, and 2 years postgraduate, they have informed me that they are already receiving job offers.
In primary care, there are new guidelines being brought in amongst PCNs (primary care networks) stating that there needs to be 3 PAs for every 50,000 patients.
So expect a boom in primary care jobs in the near future. And even in secondary care when regulation comes in 2021. The GMC and many Royal Colleges are pushing for prescribing rights for PAs too, so that’ll lead to a boost in job demand as well.
Of course, PAs must work for a year in placement before becoming fully qualified. Luckily, most PAs actually get their job offers while on placement. Even so, If your supervisor likes you, it’s not unheard of to get offered work before even graduating.
With a biomedical science degree, there is never a shortage off things to apply for. Sure, on its own it can be a bit difficult to find work, but when combined with the right masters programs you are sure to find a job wherever you go. Certain routes such as the Physician Associate route are almost surely guaranteed to find you employment when you graduate due to the low competition and demand for jobs that are currently being created.
Other routes such as drug researcher or lecturer require you to stand out from your competition by getting the best grades possible but also involve yourself with as much work experience, research and internships as possible.
Creating a solid plan after your bioscience degree will always increase your odds of landing that dream job, however, purely relying on a first degree makes things harder and will give a false impression that biomedical science is a useless degree.