What can I do with my degree? - Life Science Graduates
Three years of blogging leading to 60+ interviews I can FINALLY say I have an idea of what I can do with my degree! So here I am sharing and answering the question: What do LIFE SCIENCE GRADUATES DO? This blog post will be updated regularly as TCIM builds more profiles.
The term “Life science” is used to describe a broad range of scientific study of life. You can say it falls under Biology and can be further subdivided into: Botany, Zoology, Genetics and Medicine. These subcategories are even further divided into specialist fields with the expectation to study topics ranging from cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, botany, microbiology, zoology, evolution, ecology, physiology and more.
The life science field is incredibly broad and tcim- this blog started to document fields closest to the medicine branch. You often find people wanting to study medicine but not understanding that this is an entire world and not confined to the boundaries of becoming a practicing medical doctor. This is no fault of the naive 16year old positioned to make a huge life decision .
This blog post has been written to break down the different fields you can pursue using real world examples of people interviewed on this blog. For regular career profile updates subscribe to the newsletter here
So Let’s begin.
You pursue a life science degree with the aim to use it for years and years. While that isn’t always the case, there are many successful examples of people that have been able to utilise the skills from these degrees for 20+ years. This includes changing fields, taking second and even third degrees. Before we get started let’s understand the difference between a career and a job.
A job is a means to an end and what you are currently doing to either make ends meet or the current thing taking up most of your time.
A career : this encompasses all the “jobs” you’ve had, all the experiences that at a time didn't seem relevant form this intertwining branch of good an bad experiences. A career is built on intentional choices to get you from A to Z rather than just A to B.
Why do people choose science?
I love asking this question, because each response is personal. Ranging from a feeling, to a teacher seeing potential, reading a book or seeing a family member experience a disease and wanting to help. For whatever reason you choose science its an opportunity to learn more about what you are passionate about.
Senior roles in the life science field often involve utilising a range of skill over the years. After interviewing a few people, these roles are suited for people that don’t shy away from leadership. If you want to create long lasting change and impact a wide range of people while actively using your degree the questionable salaries along the way shouldn’t deter you from what is a very rewarding path.
Common Job titles : Senior researcher, Molecular scientist chief executive, Post doctoral researcher ,CEO, Professor , Head of Communications,etc
Minimum requirement : An undergraduate degree. A majority will also have a second degree or relevant qualifications for the particular field backed with years of experience.
Salary Range: £35,000-£100,000
TCIM Career Profiles
A PhD just seems like the obvious step for someone wanting to stay in academia. It is definitely a pre-requisite for becoming a professor. It is also an oversold route making competition for places incredibly high. They common misconception is that the ONLY path after is to become a professor and if you don’t want that you shouldn’t do it. This isn't the case anymore, whether this is a result of the crazy job market or the final realisation of what skills phds possess ( its the realisation of the market understanding the value of a Phd outside academia btw). Gaining a phd is not something the many that have thought through their decision regret.
What do they involve: 3-4 years ( full time) of research and becoming an expert in a niche field.
Minimum requirement : Bsc degree
Salary Range: Stipend in the uk £15,000-£30,000. Stipend refers to the money given to you. It is tax free unlike regular “jobs”.
Should I do a Phd ?
Now for the burning question… how do you know its for you? Like anything, something that pushes your curiosity and lights a sparkle in your eyes should be pursued. In a money controlled world, it probably isn't the best path if you want to earn loads immediately, it is a slow burner and really earning potential is what you make of it post PhD . I have interviewed many people while everyone has amazing motivational stories of why a PhD felt like the right step, every person will attest to the fact you SHOULDN'T DO ONE JUST BECAUSE ! Take the break and explore the other interests if you aren't sure, there are many rewarding pathways that don’t involve the sheer stress a PhD will put you through.
TCIM Career profiles
The working world:
A common misconception with life science degrees that fall under the umbrella of medicine is the need for multiple degrees and the Bsc is never enough. While it is true a masters as a requirement is becoming more and more common, they are not essential all the time. There are some routes that offer more of a training pathway to the second degree, some where just knowledge of science is enough and then the beautiful space in between. Of everyone that I have interviewed the people that fit into this section always highlight a new job title that leads me down a rabbit whole of much more. These profiles just show the endless possibilities with your degree.
When positioning yourself in the working world, you really have to pick apart your skills and not be shy of what you have achieved or want to achieve. Break down your direct degree skills, the things you liked and disliked.
A life science degree can be broken down into different bits.
The Core: the modules about the science that you learn. The pathways, the diseases etc..
The Assessments: the projects ( presentation, group work, articles written) -> do you like organising stuff, do you like explaining things, do you like seeing a project through. Do you just like keeping up with knowledge but don't actually want to generate any ? Are you awful in the lab? Do you like being alone, do you need to talk to people?
The things you hate : What absolutely made you roll your eyes, stay away from that stuff !
TCIM Career Profiles
Scientific communications officer
Head of Audio and Research Publishing
Should I do a masters?
Just like a Phd “Don’t