Careers in the public sector are numerous and varied. Along with central government departments there are also governmental bodies and institutions that are publicly-funded but cover more specialist areas of interest.
Public sector roles suitable for our life sciences graduates include:
- Biomedical Scientist for Public Health England - This can involve working in specialist labs focusing on areas ranging from water quality, environmental research, or rare pathogens. After several years in the lab and completion of a Masters degree graduates often move up to senior levels, with greater responsibility and oversight of labs and research. Biomedical and Biochemistry graduates also make excellent candidates for Research Scientist roles at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL).
- Science Communication at Royal Botanical Gardens Kew - Science communication is a great field for who want to combine their passion for sciences with public awareness campaigns and outreach. In roles like these you work to inform stakeholders and the public on project and research outcomes through channels such as social media, website content, and printed publications.
- Marine Advisor with Natural England – The British Isles are home to dozens of complex and rich marine ecosystems that needs to be protected and conserved for future generations. Working for a body such as Natural England will involve projects on conservation and/or recovery of marine environments, often working partnership with local industries. Such work is varied, involving regular travel to sites to review and research project activities, outcomes and impacts. Similar roles can also be found in the Marine Management Organisation.
For some career paths progression may need you to carry out further education at postgraduate level, such as a Masters degree or a PhD. Postgraduate degrees can be an essential requirement for more senior and specialist roles as they require more specific demonstrable expertise in your field of interest. Senior roles can include:
- Portfolio management in a research council - Senior Portfolio Managers support innovation in fields such as life sciences research by allocating budgets for research and development. This can include overview of funding rounds, budget management of on-going projects, and assessing impact to ensure value for public money. It requires significant in-depth understanding of the research process, and the potential impacts of investment in areas of future development.
- Senior Specialist – These roles and similar ones can be found in bodies such as Natural England and Defra. As a Senior Specialist your role will involve providing expert advice on your area of specialisation, such as fisheries or freshwater. You may not need a postgraduate degree, but you will need to demonstrate extensive experience of working in the particular field you’re applying for.
- Programme or project manager – These roles can differ greatly between departments in terms of responsibility and pay. You may find you are dealing with a smaller or short-term project, or managing a large team of policy makers to ensure deadlines are reached. You can find roles like this with departments such as Defra, the Medical Research Council, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), or the Food Standards Agency.
Civil Service Fast Stream
The Fast Stream is the UK Civil Service graduate development scheme. There are fifteen different streams available to graduates at varying levels, for example the Digital, Data, Technology & Cyber stream only requires an undergraduate degree, while the Science and Engineering stream requires a high undergraduate qualification as well as a postgraduate degree in one of the sciences.
Successful candidates will start on an annual salary around £26,000 to £28,000 a year. On completing your chosen scheme you’ll be eligible for roles around £45,000 to £55,000 a year.