The life sciences sector

People are living longer and with more complex health needs; antibiotics don't work as well as they used to; we want to know more about inherited diseases... there and other challenges meant that scientific discovery and bio-technologies are essential to improving people's lives.  This makes for some very exciting and rewarding roles: you could make a real difference!

What is happening?

  • We can expect thousands of new jobs to be created in this sector over the next few years.  Key areas include pharmacology (drugs and chemistry), med tech (hi-tech equipment) and bioinformatics (connecting computing, biology and medicine).
  • This is a priority sector for Norfolk and Norwich Research Park (NRP) is one of the largest clusters of food, health, plant and environmental science organisations in the world! Over 12,000 people currently work on the NRP including over 3,000 scientists.  NRP is home to many research and development companies as well as major institutions such as the John Innes Centre, the Quadram Institute and the Earlham Institute and there are plans to grow further.
  • Food and energy security, healthy ageing and living with environmental change are important global issues, and we need people with high level skills to work in areas such as microbiology, genetics artificial intelligence and intellectual property.
  • Most professional jobs require degrees of higher degree level qualifications.  A growing number of higher and degree level apprenticeships in life sciences means there's a growing alternative route to university into this sector, however, continuing with a STEM qualification is essential.

Skills and qualities

  • Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Advanced digital and ICT skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Maths
  • Analytical skills
  • Team working
  • Languages

Useful subjects

  • Maths
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • English
  • ICT
  • Science
  • Business studies
  • Design & technology
  • Psychology

What could you earn?

Lab technician £15,750 - £26,450
Science professional £17,800 - £45,350
Environmental health professionals £29,400 - £39,950
Biological scientist £27,450 - £49,250
Design and development engineer £25,650 - £51,600
Research professional £25,000 - £68,150
Pharmacist £31,400 - £48,550

Pathways into this sector

Getting good grades in maths, English and STEM subjects is essential for most jobs in this sector.

At 16, continuing to study STEM subjects at A level will allow you to progress in this sector.  There are limited apprenticeship opportunities at level 2 but level 3 apprenticeships such as laboratory and metrology technician are available and others are in development.  Entry requirements for apprenticeships can vary so check first.

At 18 or 19, you could study for a relevant degree at university or even continue on to a post-graduate course.  Higher or degree apprenticeships are an option for getting into some roles in life sciences sector and more will be available soon.

Gaining relevant experience such as work experience, a paid job or voluntary work will also improve your chances of finding a job in this sector.

On Help You Choose you can find more information on courses, apprenticeships and other options.

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