Are you interested in solving some of society’s big problems, like healthcare and disease? Want to use your scientific know-how to make a real difference? Are you passionate about what science can achieve? A career in science could be perfect for you.
You no longer need to go to university to become a scientist. You can do an apprenticeship instead. These are programmes that allow you to train on the job, gaining important transferable skills and working towards a qualification. You’ll also earn a salary.
In this guide we’ll look at science apprenticeships.
Science apprenticeships allow you to become a scientist without going to university. In a lab setting, you’ll gain technical knowledge and key workplace skills. At the same time you’ll attend college or a training provider to study towards a qualification – you could even get a degree through your apprenticeship.
There are currently two types of science apprenticeships you can do (you’ll also see them referred to as biology apprenticeships): laboratory scientist and laboratory technician. We’ll look at each of them in turn.
You can train as a lab scientist by doing an apprenticeship. The scheme will last around five years.
A lab scientist can work in different areas of science, including chemical, pharmaceutical, and nuclear. They gather data, interpret it, and then use that evidence to propose solutions to different problems.
After your apprenticeship the roles you’d be able to pursue include analytical chemist, research and development scientist, molecular biologist, microbiologist, and medicinal chemist.
You’ll gain lots of scientific knowledge and technical skills during the programme, across analytical science, chemical science, research and development, and life sciences.
You’ll learn how to:
During science or biology apprenticeships, you’ll develop the following skills:
The exact nature of the apprenticeship will vary depending on which one you apply for, but we’ll take a look at some of the personal qualities you should have that would make you right for a science apprenticeship:
The laboratory scientist apprenticeship is a level 5 degree apprenticeship (check this out for the different types), meaning when you complete it, you’ll have either a higher national diploma, foundation degree or even a full honours degree in a science.
You’ll also be recognised as a Registered Scientist (RSci) by professional bodies.
You will usually need 5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above in English and maths, and 3 A-levels (or equivalent). Two of those must be in a science subject.
But it’s important to check the entry requirements on the individual apprenticeship listing, which you can find using the government’s Find An Apprenticeship tool.
The laboratory technician apprenticeship is an advanced apprenticeship, and usually takes between 18 and 24 months.
You’ll learn how to:
You’ll develop great communication, interpersonal, and team-working skills. You’ll be able to work with others as well as independently. You’ll develop adaptability skills.
Is the science lab technician apprenticeship for you? Have a look at a snapshot of the personal qualities and characteristics you need:
You’ll work towards a level 3 or 4 qualification in science. The apprenticeship is recognised by professional bodies at Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) level.
To apply for a science lab technician apprenticeship, you’ll need at least 5 GCSEs including maths, English and Science at grade 4 or above. You may also need an A-level in a scientific subject – check the apprenticeship listing.