Imperial female student in a lab

This page gives career information of relevance to Imperial Life Sciences students.

You can find out how the Careers Service supports Imperial students our services for students page, explore our career events, attend one to one appointments and sign up for our weekly newsletter, sent every Thursday (sign up by checking the relevant box on your personal profile on JobsLive). Whatever stage you are at with your studies, we’re here to help from first year undergraduates right through to PhD studies – you don’t even have to know what you want to do to make use of our services!

What can you do with Life Sciences?

Life Sciences graduates have a range of career options. Some require the specific academic and technical knowledge developed from your studies while others will utilise the wider transferable skills that you will have developed.

Around 54% of Imperial Life Sciences graduates choose to do further study and 33% go into employment at the end of their first degree. Use the resources below to help you start to explore and understand your options and to begin to develop your career plans.

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Develop your skills

Wherever your career leads you employers will want to see evidence of the skills you have developed in your studies. These may include technical skills and academic knowledge if you’re seeking a job related directly to Life Sciences and ‘transferable skills’ like problem solving, resilience and intellectual curiosity that fit a broad range of roles within and outside of Life Science related roles.

The typical skills developed by Imperial Life Science students during their degree are highly valued by employers and include:

  • Formulating and test hypotheses using appropriate experimental design and statistical analysis of data
  • Planning, conducting and writing-up a programme of research
  • Planning and executing safely a series of experiments
  • Using laboratory methods to generate data
  • Analysing experimental results and determining their strength and validity
  • Preparing technical reports and give technical presentations;
  • Using the scientific literature effectively
  • Using computational tools and packages
  • Communicating effectively through oral presentations and written reports

It’s good to reflect on your abilities and consider what skills you can evidence and which skills you may need to enhance. Use our self reflection webpages to help you understand and document your abilities.

During your degree you will have many opportunities to develop and learn new skills. Employers will want to see what you have been doing to develop your skills and knowledge outside your course while you have been a student. Experiences such as student societies, part-time work, volunteering and sports can develop your skills and will be valuable additions to your CV. Work experience can also help develop skills and help you decide what career direction you want to go in and become more competitive in future job or further study applications.

As an Imperial student you can participate, or take a leadership role, in a wide variety of Students’ Union activities where you’ll develop many skills. You also have free access to LinkedIn Learning and can use this to develop or improve your knowledge and abilities with software tools and skills through instructional videos taught by industry experts skills.

You can learn and develop the skills required to be successful in the job or internship market. For example, you will need to know how to create a strong CV, write a good cover letter and perform well in interviews. We can help you to learn these skills. Start with the applications and interviews section of our website, and by attending our skills training and workshops.

Explore career areas

When you understand your skills through self reflection it’s a good idea to then learn about the range of career areas that might be of interest. You could work in areas such as infrastructure, the energy sectors and water.

Our What do Imperial graduates do? page contains our Graduate Outcomes data which gives examples of employers and further study options of previous graduates. You can search the data to learn what Life Science graduates went on to do immediately after graduation. You may also find it useful to explore Imperial College Linked In 'Life Sciences' where you can explore the career paths of our Life Science alumni as their careers develop over time.

However, don't feel limited by what others have done, but instead, follow your own interests.

For Life Science students it is helpful to consider whether you want to use your Life Science knowledge in a job.

To help you begin we have listed some of the career areas that Imperial Life Science students often go into which is taken from our What do Imperial graduates do? Graduate Outcomes data. Our exploring options resources can help you to learn more about these sectors including desirable skills, responsibilities, professional development and salary expectations across different roles and industries. You can also meet employers from many of these areas through Careers Service events and fairs which are advertised on JobsLiveand in our weekly newsletter. 

If you are interested in continuing to use your Life Science knowledge you could consider related roles in some of these areas:

  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology
  • Academic research
  • Medical writing/communications
  • Life Science/Healthcare consultancy
  • Graduate Entry Medicine
  • Conservation and the environment
  • Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

If you are interested in continuing to use your scientific knowledge but not in industry, you might like to explore career areas:

  • NHS scientist training programme (STP)
  • NHS graduate management scheme
  • Science teaching in schools
  • Science policy
  • Patent attorney
  • Science communications/science publishing

Here are some of the typical careers outside science that Life Scientists often go into:

  • Graduate management roles
  • Management/Strategy consulting
  • Investment Banking
  • Business/Technical analyst roles
  • Accountancy
  • Logistics
  • Marketing
  • Social work/counselling/psychologist
  • UK Civil Service

Through your research you’ll see that there’s a very wide range of options open to
Life Science graduates. Some of these are directly accessible from a first degree while others may require additional further study. This can create many questions that you’ll want to answer and speaking to a Careers Consultant through one of our one to one appointments may help after your initial research.

In addition to our resources you may also find both the Royal Society of Biology’s Next Steps and the national resource Prospects - What can I do with my degree? to have a similar but alternative commentary to the resources we’ve specifically curated here for you.

Professional bodies

A professional body, association or society seeks to further a particular profession and the interests of individuals engaged in that profession. The body maintains an oversight of the knowledge, skills, conduct and practice of that profession and can offer accreditation or chartership. You can often use professional bodies to access training or networking events and explore related career options.

Below are some links to professional bodies that deal with various areas related to Life Science. Many offer student membership which can give you access to job listings and careers information while offering great networking opportunities. Some memberships may even allow you to register your CV to vacancy matching services or to be viewed by other members of the community.

This list is not exhaustive and there are many other professional associations both in the UK and elsewhere that may be a start to help you with your job search.

Industry links

There are many well-known Multinational Companies (MNCs) offering graduate level jobs but Small or Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), defined as organisations with fewer than 250 employees, also offer a wide range of interesting and unique graduate level roles. Due to a smaller marketing budget SMEs can be harder to find and they often rely on you approaching them speculatively to show motivation and interest. They will sometimes engage with universities through incubation hubs to help them grow skills and expertise. The Imperial Enterprise Lab often run events to help students understand and network with SME and start-up communities.

Science-based websites:

  • UK BioIndustry Association – could be useful to find companies to research or speculatively apply to including biotechnology.
  • The UK Science Park Association contains a members list of science parks where you can find information on the SMEs based on these specific science parks. Good for research experience.
  • The Association British Pharmaceutical Industry member list can be used to find pharmaceutical companies of all sizes, including SMEs.
  • One Nucleus is a membership organisation that brings together life science and health related SMEs. They also have a jobs board for their members. 
  • The Clinical & Contract Research Association – International list of organisations that run clinical trials. 
  • BioPharmGuy - The Best Biotech Company Directory – has a useful global search facility
  • New Scientist Jobs -  a broad range of opportunities 
  • Regional hubs such as  Biovale (promotes the circular bioeconomy across Yorkshire and the Humber) and the Cambridge Norwich Tech Corridor are also useful if you prefer to be based outside London.
  • Work in startups is a jobsboard, however, it can be used as a research tool to find names of SMEs which can then be used on other websites like LinkedIn to explore further.

Medical communications website:

  • Directory of companies for MedComms Networking is useful if you are interested in science communications.

Green jobs websites:

  • GreenJobs covers environmental and renewable energy jobs across all industry sectors.
  • Environment Jobs
  • Natural England 
  • Environment Agency
  • Green Careers Hub  is a new resource to inform and inspire anyone, including university students, graduates and academics, about how they can play a role in greening the economy and be part of the solution to climate change.   

Conservation websites:

Not for Profit, International Development and NGOs websites:

  • Third Sector
  • BOND (British Overseas NGOs for development) 
  • In Development Jobs  (jobs board for NGOs for development)
  • Eldis (Development policy portal with useful links e.g. agriculture, environment, health – each section has further links to relevant websites; also jobs section)

SMEs can also be found using Google Maps by running a search for a specific term (e.g., “Biotechnology”) in geographic areas where you would like to work or where you know one organisation is. Often SMEs will cluster together geographically around a larger organisation related to their work from hospitals to transport hubs.

LinkedIn is also a good tool to discover SMEs. Explore the profiles of different people who have roles that you are interested in and scroll down their profile to see where they have worked. You may find SMEs and other interesting organisations that you did not know about. For further support with LinkedIn, attend a Careers Essentials: LinkedIn course.

Next steps

Career planning often takes time and can sometimes feel overwhelming. It’s a good idea to set aside a small amount of time on a regular basis to maintain momentum. Below are some things to get you started:

  • Sign up to the Imperial Careers Newsletter by checking the relevant box on your personal profile on JobsLive.
  • Learn about the application timelines for applying for further study, work experience and graduate employment
  • See our What's on pages to find out about the different types of events that we run, including: workshops, careers fairs, career talks  - and hear from alumni and employers about different types of work.
  • Learn the skills that will help you succeed on the job market in the Applications and interviews section of our website, and by attending our skills training and workshops.

If you feel stuck with your career planning, you could book a one to one appointment to talk it through with a careers consultant. Victoria Sood  is the careers consultant for Life Sciences but you can see any of our consultants for your first appointment.