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Your Ultimate Guide to Science & Pharmacy Apprenticeships

Discover something new.

Want to satiate a natural curiosity with the world around you? You’ll find no better place than a career in science.

You’ll spend a lot of time experimenting and testing your ideas, but the key to science is communication. So you’ll not only be practical, but you’ll be fantastic at explaining your concepts.

If you have great decision making, fantastic problem-solving, and a love for maths and science, you might just be perfect for one of these apprenticeships.

Science apprenticeships start here

We all think of white coats and funny goggles when we hear the word ‘science’, but that’s not strictly true – science and pharmacy is a huge industry with hundreds of different jobs within it, and it’d be almost impossible to list every type of role.

Science and pharmacy jobs are dynamic and interesting, and they’re not strictly limited to the lab; offices, factories and hospitals are always hiring in this domain. Let’s take a look at some of the science and pharmacy apprenticeships you could secure – and the exciting jobs you could get at the end.

‘Gain a qualification while you work. It was a no brainer for me.’

Jobs in Science and Pharmacy

Pharmacy Apprenticeships

A pharmacist’s job is to ensure that medicines are correctly and safely prescribed to patients. They provide information on how best to take the medicine, how often to take it and what side effects patients should be aware of. This is a stimulating career, and you could work behind the counter, in a hospital (working on the wards), in the community (meeting patients at home), in the military or in a prison. Don’t forget that you don’t need to limit yourself to humans – you could be a veterinary pharmacist as well!

Becoming a pharmacist is a long journey, but it is one that can begin with an apprenticeship. Looks for roles such as Pharmacy Assistant and Pharmacy Technician for routes onto this exciting career ladder.

Lab Technician Apprenticeships

Laboratory technicians act as assistants to senior scientists, but don’t let the word ‘assistant’ put you off – this is a high-pressure role and you’ll still have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.

Lab techs assist with data processing (like analysing the data), testing, sampling, setting up equipment and more. As a lab tech, you won’t be limited in where you can work, as technicians are in-demand across the chemistry/chemicals, biological science and life science fields.

Cosmetic Scientist

Here’s one you may not have thought of. Cosmetic scientists work on the research and development of cosmetics, perfume, haircare products and more to ensure that they are safe to use and do what their marketing says they’ll do.

Cosmetic chemists can earn large salaries, and the job will take you outside the lab too. Many cosmetic scientists are also involved in product development, which means that they use creative skills such as developing the colour and smell of a product, as well as their science-based skills.

Research and Development Scientist

British scientists have made some ground-breaking innovations in science and pharmacy – just look at Alexander Fleming who discovered penicillin, and Jesse Boot who brought healthcare to the masses with Boots Pharmacy.

But innovation doesn’t come without serious time and effort put in behind the scenes – which is why scientists in research and development play a vital role in trialling new drugs, testing new medical devices and leading research into new medicines. >

Biotechnologist

It sounds like a job title from the future, but ‘biotechnologist’ is a real thing. Biotechnologists study cells and organisms to develop new technologies such as vaccines and medicines. You could work on cancer treatments, stem cell research or virology (the study of viruses). Other names for jobs in this field include molecular biology, microbiology and biological sciences. Biotech is a popular industry that’s receiving a lot of investment too, so the future is bright for scientists working in it.

Entry requirements?

Entry requirements for science and pharmacy apprenticeships are higher than most others. You’ll need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4, including passes in English, Science and Maths, and 3 A levels (or equivalent). It’s best to have studied at least 1 technical subject (biology, chemistry, physics, maths or statistics) so you can clearly demonstrate that you have the applicable skills to secure your place on a science and pharmacy apprenticeship. 

The science and pharmacy industry thrives on innovation, so a curious and inquisitive mind will help motivate you to find the next big breakthrough. As science revolves around analysis, you’ll need to have an analytical and detail-oriented personality – and you’ll likely need to be patient too, as getting a new drug approved can take 10 years of testing and processes.

Apprentice Levels

Apprenticeships are split into levels depending on the length and the qualification that you receive at the end. Possible qualifications that you’ll get could be:

Level 2 (intermediate) – equivalent to 5 GCSEs (at grades 9 to 4)

The Level 2 NHS Science Manufacturing Process Operative Apprenticeship will help you learn how to process and manufacture science equipment and how to monitor the factories.

Level 3 (advanced) – equivalent to 2 A-levels

A step up from their Level 2 Manufacturing Apprenticeship, the NHS also offers a Level 3 Science Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship. This involves more responsibilities, such as learning how to operate systems and manage product production. 

Levels 4 and 5 (higher) – equivalent to a foundation degree

You can find a Level 4 Healthcare Science Associate Apprenticeship on the gov.uk website. This position involves supporting healthcare practitioners and clinical scientists with their duties.  Likewise, the NHS’s Level 5 Technician Scientist Apprenticeship is similar to a lab technician role and lasts for 3 years. 

Levels 6 and 7 (degree) – you’ll get a full bachelor’s and/or master’s degree. 

With the NHS England Scientist Training Programme (STP), you could gain an MSc in Clinical Pharmaceutical Science over three years. Yes, that’s a master’s degree! This programme covers quality control, how to prepare medicines, medicine production and using radioactive substances to treat patients. Fascinating stuff.

NHS leading the way

You may wonder why many of the apprenticeships in this article are attributed to the NHS. That’s because the NHS is a leading provider of science and pharmacy apprenticeships, and there are plenty of opportunities for you to receive funding, cross over to other fields and move up the career ladder. Another great benefit is that the NHS is, of course, nationwide, so you’re guaranteed to find an apprenticeship near you. 

Sector spotlight

Lloyds Pharmacy, Boots, Rowlands and Well Pharmacy are currently in discussions to decide how best to offer pharmacy apprenticeships in their businesses – so keep your eyes peeled on this news for any new developments. 

In conclusion

As a scientist or a pharmacist, your role will positively impact the lives of many people – a truly fulfilling feeling. It’s difficult to list all the different jobs within the science and pharmacy industry, which means that you’re guaranteed to find a position that perfectly fits your love for this field. With the right attitude and a science apprenticeship, you could be leading innovation and maybe even the world’s next breakthrough.