Research scientist

WISH cell culture

Discover the opportunities available to scientists wishing to pursue a career in research, as well as alternative careers connected to the field.

Research scientist career

Research scientists tend to work for a university or research institute, and are distinct from healthcare scientists in that their work tends to be conducted in a laboratory and does not usually involve patient care. 

They come from a wide range of disciplines, including life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, maths and computer science, as well as psychology, humanities and social sciences. 

The Medical Research Council's interactive career framework shows the range of possible biomedical research career pathways that you can follow, with case studies by people in those careers.

They also provide an overview of non-clinical career pathways, showing how it is possible to gain independence after a postdoc and go on to lead your own team of scientists.

Other career opportunities

It is worth mentioning that only a small proportion of postdocs continue into tenured faculty positions. However, scientists are highly sought after and there are a wide range of alternative career routes available.

Many research scientists choose to follow a career in industry, while others decide to find roles away from the bench that still keep them connected to science. This Naturejobs blog provides a helpful introduction to some of the main alternative career paths open to post-doctoral scientists.