Did you know that scientists are saving lives because they discovered new treatments to cure some cancers? Did you also know that a new drug helps people with heart failure? Or how about the fact that the polio virus can be used to treat brain tumours?
These are just a few of the mind-boggling advances that are possible because of biomedical science. If you have a knack for science, an analytical mind, and a desire to really make a difference in people’s lives, training as a biomedical scientist could be right for you.
In this guide we’ll look at biomedical science jobs, what they involve and how you can pursue the career.
'Biomedical scientists are awesome, saving lives with their work! Learn how to become one'
What's a biomedical scientist anyway?
A biomedical scientist do different scientific tests to help diagnose and treat diseases. They investigate how cells and organs function in the human body.
Biomedical science jobs are really important for how hospitals function. That’s because one task they have in A&E is to test blood samples for patients who have had a drug overdose or heart attack and need an emergency blood transfusion.
What does a biomedical scientist do on a day-to-day basis?
Biomedical science jobs usually involve working in the lab, testing and analysing biological samples (that means material from humans like blood, tissue and DNA).
There are three areas to specialise in: infection sciences; blood sciences; and cellular sciences.
Depending on the area you’d like to work in, your tasks as a biomedical scientist could include:
- Testing for illnesses like Legionnaires’ disease and food poisoning.
- Screening for infectious diseases like hepatitis.
- Helping patients who need blood transfusions.
- Keeping track of how medication and treatment affects patients.
- Using different techniques like “cell culture” (which means growing human cells in a lab to test them) in order to detect cancer.
- Testing fluid and tissue samples.
- Filling out paperwork and spreadsheets with test results.
- Carrying out research and explore new ways to treat and cure diseases.
- Supporting colleagues and junior staff.
Many biomedical scientists work for the NHS in a hospital or clinic. There are also opportunities to work with Public Health England, research bodies and academic institutions. You would work as part of a team with other healthcare staff, doctors and nurses.
Check out this video of Saadia Sadiq discussing her role as a biomedical scientist:
What skills do biomedical science jobs require?
These are some of the characteristics and skills required of a biomedical scientist:
- The ability to concentrate for long periods of time.
- Great attention to detail and accuracy.
- An enquiring mind and curious attitude.
- Top problem-solving skills.
- Leadership skills for heading up a research team.
- Very good verbal and written communication skills – to interact with your colleagues as well as reassure patients.
- Able to show empathy and understanding for your patients.
- Interest in science and technology.
I'm interested. How can I become a biomedical scientist?
In order to qualify as a biomedical scientist, you will need:
- A degree in a science-related degree, such as life sciences or healthcare science. Here you can find a list of degrees that are accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS).
- At least one year’s experience at a lab, where you’ll work towards completing the “Registration Training Portfolio” for the “Certificate of Competence”. You need that in order to complete the next step, which is…
- Registration as a biomedical scientist with the Health and Care Professions Council.
In February 2015 there were 22,251 biomedical scientists registered with the Health and Care Professions Council.
You may also be able to get into the profession by getting a role as a trainee biomedical scientist. You will need at least two A-levels in science. Trainee biomedical scientist are “sponsored” by employers like the NHS, and allow you to work and study towards an IBMS-accredited degree.
What will I earn?
The starting annual salary for biomedical scientists is between £22,000 and £28,500. In experienced biomedical science jobs, this rises to £35,320 or even up to £41,250 for highly experienced roles.
Ready to become a biomedical scientist? The best way to give yourself the edge is by work experience. Read this guide to learn more.