Career as a Biomedical scientist

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Sarah Jones works in genetics. Just completing her PhD training, she is looking at how a specific gene works which is linked to the development of our blood.

What was your route into this job?

I always wanted to be a scientist and worked as a research assistant for a few years after I finished my Masters degree, before I took the plunge to do my PhD. I also always wanted to be a part of the big scientific community, to understand our development and diseases, and to make my own little contribution in any way I could.

What are you working on at present?

I'm studying the stem cell leukaemia gene (SCL) which plays an important role in blood development. I am trying to develop new ways to study this to understand how it works.

What equipment do you use?

I use slides, scanners and incubators on a daily basis. A lot of my work is looking through various types of microscope at material contained on the slides.

What training do you receive?

In addition to the training for experimental work, which I make use of in the lab, I also learn communication skills, both oral and written, which is an important aspect of my training as a scientist. I am also given computer training to learn how to handle the biological data I produce.

What hours do you work?

I am in my third year as a PhD student and do not have any set daily routine. My hours can vary depending on the type of experiments I'm doing on any given day. However, once I qualify I expect to work a normal 36-hour week, starting each day at 9am and finishing at around 5pm.

What do you like best about your job as a Biomedical scientist?

I like absolutely everything about my work. The freedom to think and work independently, trying to find and develop something new and being responsible for managing my own projects are some of the aspects I enjoy.

Any disadvantages to your job?

Sometimes it can be frustrating if an experiment I am working on doesn't work out as it should – often due to something completely out of my control. But the challenge to rectify it makes it all the more exciting.

What are the skills and qualities needed?

A genuine interest in science and an interest in trying to solve scientific problems, an enquiring mind and the willingness to take the initiative to do things on your own.

Sarah's route to her Career as a Biomedical scientist

  • GCSEs.
  • A Levels.
  • BSc degree.
  • Masters degree in Human Genetics.
  • Final year of her PhD.

Sarah's tips

  • You should have a genuine interest in the scientific field.
  • Be prepared to work flexible hours because some of the experiments you do might not fit into your daily routine.

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  • Biochemist
  • Biologist
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Salary of a Biomedical scientist

  • Working in the NHS sector, trainee biomedical scientists usually get between £11,181 and £12,527.
  • Experienced and well-qualified staff get between £20,622 and £29,355.
  • An advanced biomedical scientist practitioner in cervical cytology can earn up to £50,833.
  • There are additional payments for overtime and on-call allowances, and a London allowance is paid. Salaries in the private sector may be higher.

Becoming a Biomedical scientist

  • Most trainee biomedical scientists enter with an honours degree in biomedical science or other UK biomedical science qualification approved by the Health Professions Council. Graduates with other relevant science degrees, such as animal physiology, biochemistry, human biology, chemistry, microbiology, physics or zoology, can study an Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) accredited 'top up' postgraduate certificate or diploma.
  • It is possible to start work as a trainee biomedical scientist with A levels in life sciences or the equivalent, if the employer is willing to offer financial support and time off to study for a degree on a part-time basis.
  • To work in the NHS, biomedical scientists must be state registered. To register, you must have an approved degree and a minimum of a year's in-service training in an approved laboratory, assessed by a logbook and an oral examination.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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