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Research scientist

Alternative titles for this job include

Research scientists plan and lead experiments and investigations on a range of scientific topics.

Average salary (a year)

£17,688 Starter


£43,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

Meet Jaz

Jaz is a research scientist at the Natural History Museum.

A person wearing a white lab coat stood in a laboratory setting.
BBC Bitesize logo

Their research involves studying cells and DNA, and has even included a trip to the Arctic.

Watch Jaz’s story on BBC Bitesize Careers

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a research scientist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You usually need a first or 2:1 (upper second class) degree in a science subject to become a research scientist. Most research scientists continue to study for a postgraduate qualification like a PhD.

You could study an integrated postgraduate master's course. These courses include independent research and are designed to lead directly to a PhD.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information


You could do a level 7 research scientist degree apprenticeship.

This apprenticeship typically takes 2 years and 6 months to complete.

It may give you some of the skills you need to become a research scientist.

Entry requirements

Employers will set their own entry requirements.

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information


It may be possible to start as a research assistant or graduate industrial scientist. You would need to study part time for a PhD while you work.

UK Research and Innovation and other industrial companies sometimes offer studentships. This would give you the opportunity to do a PhD while getting practical research experience.

More Information

Career tips

It may improve your chances of finding work if you've got work experience in a research department or your degree included a placement in a research environment.

As a graduate you could look for postgraduate training opportunities offered through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). In a KTP you would get the opportunity to run a research project together with an organisation and a university or research body.

Further information

You can find out more about a career in scientific research through the Science Council.

You can learn more about careers as a researcher and find useful resources at Vitae.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • the ability to read English
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

What you do will depend on the area of science you specialise in.

You could:

  • create research proposals and apply for funding
  • plan and carry out experiments
  • record and analyse results
  • present findings in journals, books or at conferences
  • develop new products or ways of applying new discoveries
  • teach and supervise student research projects

Working environment

You could work in a laboratory or at a university.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

As a scientist with research councils or organisations, you could progress to a senior research or laboratory management position.

In an academic post, once you've gained experience and published original research, you could progress to senior research fellow or professor. This involves leading your own team.

You could demonstrate your commitment to professional development and work towards professional recognition like Chartered Scientist.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a research scientist right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Access to HE: Science

  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Ipswich

Access to HE - Science

  • Provider: Harrow, Richmond & Uxbridge Colleges (HRUC)
  • Start date: 09 September 2024
  • Location: Harrow

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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