Scientific research: physical, chemical

A wide range of roles are available in industry, research centres, university departments and government.


Scientific research and development involve the creation of products, processes and commercial applications using cutting-edge, multidisciplinary approaches. A wide range of roles are available in industry, research centres, university departments and government. Industries include aerospace, defence, pharmaceuticals, fast moving consumer goods and technology.

What's it like working in this sector?

These sector guides, produced by leading careers information providers, include overviews of the sector:

Prospects - Science and pharmaceuticals

targetjobs - Science and research

Consider whether you are interested in academic research or industry as the application process and entry requirements will differ.

Use these Prospects profiles of common roles within this sector to see what each role involves, what salary to expect, work experience suggestions and typical employers:

Analytical chemist


Colour technologist

Food technologist

Medicinal chemist



Product/process development scientist

Research scientist (life sciences)

Research scientist (physical sciences)

Platform One can be a useful source of contacts, advice and opinion; joining is straightforward and you can view a series of handy “how to” video guides which cover topics such as how to create a profile, sign in, search for someone and send a message:

Platform One

Building experience and getting started

Any type of work experience can be valuable and will help you to develop skills, which are transferable to other workplaces and career areas.

Summer research projects (or internships), based in university or research institute laboratories, provide valuable insights and experience for students who are considering a research-based career and study for a PhD.  

Information on how to find internships/work experience can be found in our work experience guides on Careers Service Plus: 

Work experience for Biological and Biomedical Sciences students (University of Edinburgh login required)

Work experience for Chemistry students (University of Edinburgh login required)

Work experience for Physics and Astronomy students (University of Edinburgh login required)

Professional bodies

These are a great way to gain access to:

  • Specific career insights and information
  • Networking and building connections to a professional/academic community
  • Vacancy listings - another source to look for opportunities
  • Activities such as webinars, events and conferences

Much information is free, but student membership can provide additional benefits.

Here are some examples:

Royal Society of Biology

Royal Society of Chemistry

Institute of Physics - includes links to community special interest groups, useful for networking

Institute of Physics

Where can I find job vacancies?

Access MyCareerHub and search for opportunities:

MyCareerHub opportunities

Gradcracker - Employers by sector

targetjobs - Graduate jobs in science, R&D, food industry – an international jobs board for careers in academic, research, science and related professions:

Nature Careers – the job site from the research journal, Nature:

Nature Careers

Physics World, part of the Institute of Physics, provides research updates, career profiles in different sectors where physicists work, news developments and a dedicated jobs section:

Physics World

Also, you can check individual university vacancy webpages and research institutions for opportunities.