Natural sciences

From creating vaccines to solving climate change, scientists are responsible for finding the answers to some of the most complex problems facing society and the environment.
Sara – Lab Science Biology Apprentice, GSK.

What’s an apprenticeship in natural sciences?

Science is ever evolving. New mysteries are constantly being uncovered and new discoveries are being made, but scientific advancement can only continue if there are highly skilled scientists and technicians to make those breakthrough discoveries. Apprenticeships offer an entry pathway into this exciting field.

Whether you aspire to find cures for medical conditions, help solve murder investigations or inspire future generations to love science through teaching, you can find a rewarding career through an apprenticeship in natural sciences.

Shaan Gill – Level 6 Laboratory Scientist Apprenticeship, AstraZeneca

“I find my job so rewarding as I work in early oncology translational medicine, a fast-growing area of biomedical research. We analyse patient samples to understand the tumour biology and effect of treatment to see how the patient’s outcome can be improved.”

Kim Hardman – Associate Director and UK Apprenticeships Lead, AstraZeneca

“Our science-related apprenticeships put our technicians in the lab from day one, working in real scientific roles. They will be working on medicines that have the potential to improve and saves lives all over the world, so these roles are a really important element of our business.”

Facts and stats

Average salary
The average salary in the natural science industry in the UK is £32,1531.
Workforce
20% of the workforce is employed in science roles and average pay overall for scientists is generally higher than the average wage in the whole economy2.
Science skills in demand
A survey carried out in 2018 by New Scientist and SRG Recruitment claims there is a shortfall of over 170,000 qualified workers for UK science and engineering roles3.
Investment

In the UK Government 2021 Spending Review, there was strong support shown for the UK life sciences sector when a £354 million investment was announced4.

Research and development
Much like the universe, careers in scientific research and development are literally limitless; new things can always be discovered and things can always be improved5.
Apprenticeships
Completing an apprenticeship in the natural sciences opens up the possibility to move into managerial roles within science-based organisations or even to become a scientific officer in the government.

Who would suit an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships in natural sciences are available at advanced and higher levels. 

An apprenticeship in natural sciences can lead to roles such as forensic scientist, researcher, food scientist, lab technician, science teacher, conservation officer or a nuclear technician, to name a few.

Pharmaceuticals, NHS Trusts, and food manufacturers are amongst the employers offering science-based apprenticeships, including companies such as GSK, Unilever, Sellafield and AstraZeneca.

An apprenticeship in this industry may be for you if you love science, are organised and methodical with excellent attention to detail and a passion for analysing, understanding and communicating, even if you don’t yet know where you would like to specialise.

Erin Maciejewski – Level 5 Laboratory Science Chemistry Apprenticeship, GSK

"I think values are really important in this industry and GSK’s values were certainly a consideration for me when I decided to apply. Trust and integrity align with what I believe in as it’s essential that patients using the products we create know we’re developing the right things with their best intentions in mind."

Erin Shearer – Level 4 Laboratory and Associate Technical Activities in Education Science Apprenticeship, Glasgow University

“I actually already have a degree but I wish they’d had apprenticeship programmes back then as I’d have definitely opted for this route. I felt at a bit of a loss after graduating in terms of jobs to go for so this opportunity came at the perfect time for me.”

Discover employers offering apprenticeships

Like the sound of an apprenticeship but not sure where to start looking? Get to know leading brands and the range of apprenticeships they offer.

Explore employers

Pros
  • You’ll be working in a lab from day one alongside world-class scientists.
  • Science is one of the few sectors where you can contribute to discoveries that change the world.
  • You can apply scientific theory practically in the workplace.
Cons
  • It’s easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day lab work so study can fall behind.
  • It can feel overwhelming at the start as you’re surrounded by experienced scientists.
  • You’re on your feet for a lot of the time as it’s a very hands-on industry.

Why choose an apprenticeship?

By the end of an apprenticeship in natural sciences you’ll have a university degree, as well as several years of on-the-job experience, making you highly employable compared to a graduate who has taken a university-only route.

I’m working with people that have 20-30 years’ experience and learning so much from them.

Erin Maciejewski, Apprentice at GSK

Apprentices are immersed in a knowledge rich learning environment within their role and are fully supported by their employer to reach their potential.

This opens up a huge amount of career options as you’ll have gained a wealth of industry experience as well as a qualification upon completion of your apprenticeship. You’ll also often gain the necessary qualifications to apply for professional registration with industry bodies.

Apprentices bring a fresh approach to our organisation as well as passion and excitement.

Kim Hardman, Employer at AstraZeneca
 

Industry top tips

Watch our top tips on how to get into natural sciences from Sara, an apprentice at GSK.

How do you start an apprenticeship?