Work-based training in chemistry
A three or four year science-related degree is not the only route into a career with chemistry. If you are not sure about going to university but are interested in pursuing a career in chemistry and gaining qualifications then a work-based qualification could be for you. Some options are also suitable if you are thinking about retraining for a career in chemistry, or if you did not choose the right subjects or get the grades you needed.
Most work-based qualifications are designed with input from employers, meaning you will develop the skills and knowledge that employers look for in their industry. The cominbation of a qualification and work experience will also help you stand out to future employers and support your long-term career. Apprentices are also paid at least the minimum wage for apprentices (£4.15 p/h from April 2020) although science-related roles are usually paid at a higher rate due to the nature of the work. If you go to university then you will need to pay tuition fees for your qualification, but as a work-based learner you will not have to pay.
A science-based apprenticeship contains a number of common elements across the UK and Ireland. They are:
You will spend a minimum of 30 hours per week observing and learning with your employer as well as a set amount of time learning in person, or online through a training provider. It is very important that you are committed, up for the challenge of balancing a demanding role with your studies and working as a professional. Learn more about the work-based study options near you or how to search for and apply for work-based training or an apprenticeship.
Anyone! The entry requirements for work-based qualifications vary by the type of course and the level of study. Some qualifications require at least five GCSEs in chemistry, maths or science at grade C or above, but this varies. There are also no age restrictions. If you have a learning difficulty or disability then in some cases the entry requirements have been adapted so check with your local training provider.
Once you have completed your apprenticeship you will hold a nationally recognised qualification, employability skills and professional experience. Whichever route you take, you will be able to advance in your career and many apprentices go on to senior roles within their companies.
Progress to the next level - your qualification options vary based on where you are based in the UK. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland after you complete your advanced apprenticeship you can look for a higher apprenticeship, and in England you could progress on to a degree or masters apprenticeship. In Scotland, you can look at a modern or technical apprenticeship. In Ireland, you can progress onto level 7 laboratory analyst apprenticeship.
Keep working in your current role, or find a new job - whether you need to find a new job or can continue in your current role is dependent on the contract you signed. If you signed a permanent contract then you can continue working, as you are a permanent member of staff. If you signed a fixed-term contract then you will need to find a new job with the skills and qualifications you have gained. Many apprentices go onto working in areas such as polymer processing, process manufacturing, forensics, or science or laboratory technician.
The Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) and Registered Scientist (RSci) professional awards recognise the skills, knowledge and professionalism of working scientists. You will be able to demonstrate your professional standards through the addition of post-nominal letters after your name. In time you may also progress to gain recognition as a Chartered Chemist.
Registered Science Technician (RSciTech) is for advanced apprentices, technicians and technical support staff and is highly regarded. Upon completing your advanced apprenticeship you are eligible to apply for the award. The Registered Scientist (RSci) award is for those working in scientific, higher technical support roles or undertaking a higher apprenticeship. Candidates will typically be qualified to at least Level 5 and will be applying this knowledge to their roles.
Discover which work-based science qualifications are available where you live
Joseph helps ensure there is clean, safe, water for 15 million people in the UK whilst studying towards his chemistry degree
Holly develops new medicines at a global pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca alongside completing her degree apprenticeship
Rebekka tests and finds ways to improve solar panels whilst balancing her studies towards her Foundation Degree apprenticeship
Christopher uses NMR to identify the structure of new and unknown chemical compounds to support the development of new medicines