Use your subject

Molecular Biology and Biotechnology

Think about what 'using your subject' means to you and what you're really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it's a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

As a start, use the resources below to create your own list of career ideas to research.

Remember that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject.

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology graduates on Prospects and Targetjobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start-ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject.

Some career options

Our information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start to explore the following occupational areas. However you are not restricted to these and you should also consider any other additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Academic lecturing / teaching

Higher Education lecturers/teachers teach their subject to undergraduate and postgraduate students via lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical demonstrations, field work and e-learning. Lecturers also pursue their own research with the aim of having this published in scholarly publications to help raise their institution's profile.

Administrative tasks are significant and many lecturers / teachers also take on a pastoral role with their students. Having a PhD is a prerequisite alongside experience such as research assistant or teaching assistant / demonstrator in HE.

Use our Occupations section Higher education for more information and links to useful websites.

Civil servant

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an accelerated leadership development programme providing graduates with the experience, skills and knowledge to become senior leaders within the Civil Service. It recruits graduates into a variety of administrative and policy roles via the Fast Stream or the general entry routes.

Through a variety of different placements or postings in government departments and agencies you’ll get experience of working in front-line operational delivery, policy and corporate roles and depending on the role potentially working with general public or senior government advisers or government ministers. If you want to influence decisions or make a difference on government policy and public service at a national level, enjoy analytical work, presenting persuasive evidence-based reports, scrutinising the implications of public sector policy and are eager to take on responsibility then you might enjoy the Civil Service Fast Stream.

If you are a language graduate you may be particularly attracted to roles/departments such as the Diplomatic Services Operational Officer in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for International Trade, the Department for International Development and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which has a lot of links to Europe.

Departments of specific interest to scientists include Government Statistical Service, Government Operational Research Service, Science and Engineering Scheme and the Project Delivery Scheme, but there are many more.

Use our Occupations section Public sector administration for more information and links to useful websites.

Clinical trials coordinator / manager

For graduates with a first degree in a life sciences or health related subject, working within clinical trials is a viable career path.

Employed within the public and private sector working for organisations such as the NHS, universities, pharmaceutical sector and contract research organisations, a clinical trials coordinator/manager will undertake the project management and overall management responsibilities for a clinical trial.

Responsible for planning, co-ordinating and completing the project a clinical trials coordinator will have excellent communication and presentation skills, together with the ability to organise and motivate others.

Use our Occupations section Scientific research and development for more information and links to useful websites.

Conservation officer

Conservation officer covers a wide range of roles (conservation assistants and technicians, project officers or biodiversity officers or sustainable development officers) all of which seek to protect, manage and enhance the local environment either in the UK or in other countries through education and policy. Environments include land, rivers and marine habitats.

Employers include local authorities, government departments, utilities companies, consultancies, nature reserves, national or country parks, private estates, engineering companies (particularly those concerned with road building) and housing developers.

Use our Occupations section Environment and conservation for more information and links to useful websites.

Data analyst / scientist

Develops and applies record management systems, analyses and interprets data sets relating to her/his employer's business, and prepares reports using business analytics tools.

Data analysts are in high demand across all sectors, including pharmaceuticals, finance, manufacturing, government and education. They work across broad areas including business intelligence, data assurance, data quality, sales and marketing.

You might work for the organisation itself, eg a pharmaceutical company, or for a consultancy working on their behalf. Alternative job titles might include value analyst or business intelligence analyst.

Use our Occupations section Data science for more information and links to useful websites.

Health economist

A health economist will be involved in analysing the effects that lifestyle choices have on health and examining the costs and benefits of health care policies. Health Economists work in the public sector for government departments and the NHS, within private consultancies and within universities, research institutions and organisations such as think-tanks.

In the private sector a health economist may be employed by a pharmaceutical or biotech company to model and forecast or develop a strategic plan for a new product. A degree (first degree or masters) in health economics is required along with strong analytical skills.

Life science researcher / research assistant

Primarily involved in planning and conducting experiments and analysing results, either with a definite end use (eg to develop new products, processes or commercial applications) or to broaden scientific understanding in general. Researchers and assistants might work for universities, pharmaceutical and cosmetics companies, private hospitals and NHS trusts, clinical research organisations, food & drink, research councils and their associated institutes, health-related charities or science consultancies.

A PhD is often required to progress beyond assistant roles alongside tenacity, problem solving and multidisciplinary teamwork.

NHS healthcare scientist

The NHS Scientists Training Programme (STP) provides on-the-job training and a Masters qualification for individuals who aim to become future managers, with responsibility for progressing the service and strategic developments in their specialist area, within NHS budgets.

Specialist areas include clinical bioinformatics, life sciences, physiological sciences and biomechanical engineering. It’s quite different to being at the cutting edge of discovery as a researcher. If you’d prefer something more hands-on in the lab then technician or healthcare science associate roles may be more appropriate.

NB: The degree here at Sheffield isn’t IBMS accredited so you’ll need to do top-up qualifications to practice specifically as a Biomedical Scientist in the NHS.

Patent attorney / patent examiner

If you have an interest in law, a methodical and meticulous attention to detail and excellent written communication skills you may enjoy applying your technical background and engineering degree to this area of work.

In this role you will assess whether inventions are eligible to be patented by searching through existing records of patents that have been approved and assessing whether the new product is sufficiently new and innovative. You will develop extensive knowledge of intellectual property law and have highly honed skills in drafting patents.

You may also advise companies and individuals through the process of gaining a patent or enforcing infringements.

Regulatory affairs officer

Regulatory affairs officers ensure the appropriate licensing, marketing and legal compliance of products (including pharmaceuticals, veterinary medicines, agrochemicals, cosmetics and therapeutic devices) in order to control the safety and efficacy of those products. It requires a combination of scientific, legal and business knowledge to ensure products being developed, manufactured or distributed by a range of companies meet the required legislation.

Work experience or an internship in the pharmaceutical industry can be useful and provides insight into the industry as a whole.

Science communicator / writer

Science writers prepare and deliver professional presentations on science-related topics to non-experts, including the general public as well as professionals in other disciplines. Opportunities range from schools outreach in HE to scientific events management with science communication agencies, public relations roles with learned societies, or education officer roles in science museums.

Some of the larger charities, eg Cancer Research UK or Wellcome Trust, may offer graduate schemes in areas like policy, public engagement and communications.

Science communicators also work in specialist publishing, journalism and broadcasting.