Beyond the lab: alternative science careers

So you have a passion for science but don’t want to work in a lab or as a researcher? Or maybe you’ve enjoyed your science degree but want to do something entirely different with your career?

The good news is that the skills and abilities gained from a science degree are valued by many different employers. Combine this with some relevant work experience and you greatly improve your chances of employment.

If you are not really sure whether you want to stay in science or not, the best thing to do is to start looking at what is out there in terms of jobs. Here are just two examples of science and non-science roles to get you thinking:


Science Communication: for those who have good written and/or verbal skills and a passion for science, science communication could be an option. Broadly speaking it involves being able to communicate scientific ideas and breakthroughs to the public. You can do this through the medium of television, radio, newspapers, magazines or websites. Other similar roles include science journalism, scientific publishing. You could also work in a marketing, PR or sales role, for example, utilising your scientific knowledge to promote scientific products.


Management: critical thinking and analysis; research and evaluation; planning and organising – these are just some of the skills you may have developed during your science degree. They are also skills that are crucial to being successful in business. Finance, operations and project management are examples of some of the many other roles that utilise these skills.

Have a look at what’s out there

Looking at different jobs will help broaden your understanding of what roles are out there, and therefore what possibilities are open to you. The website What London Graduates Do will show you what science graduates from the University of London have gone on to do. Our jobs board, JobOnline, always has an array of interesting positions for you to look at.

You will also need to understand what skills and experience employers are asking for and how this fits with your current skill set. That way you will be able to what work experience you might need to gain in order to be successful in your applications and at interviews. Our ‘Working In Science’ handout is a good place to start, but you should also look at some of our other ‘Getting Into’ guides related to other sectors such as charities, government and journalism. That way, you can learn how your science skills can be relevant to other industries and settings apart from laboratories.

Heather Campbell

Careers Information Assistant, QML Careers Centre


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