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Science, Mathematics and Statistics

Scientists, mathematicians and statisticians use observation, experimentation and research to make discoveries, develop new products and solve problems related to almost every aspect of our lives.

They are employed in lots of different areas of work, including research and development, scientific analysis, education, finance and the media. Careers are mainly at technician and professional levels, and most people in this sector specialise in a particular field.

The work covers a wide range of areas, including:

  • health and medicine - researching the causes of diseases and developing new drugs
  • earth sciences and the environment - studying the Earth, oceans and climate
  • the food and drink industry - researching and developing new products
  • materials science - studying the properties of materials such as metals, polymers and ceramics
  • mathematics - solving problems and analysing data in a wide range of areas such as engineering, electronics, finance, medicine, meteorology and science
  • statistics - gathering data and analysing it to identify and interpret trends
  • education - teaching in schools or lecturing in universities.

Working environments vary, but many scientists work in laboratories, while others do mostly fieldwork. Some work with potentially hazardous substances. Others, such as those developing government policies or working in the media, are likely to work in an office.

Employers are wide ranging and include research organisations, manufacturing and engineering companies, universities, schools, hospitals and government departments.

Many of these are large multinational organisations employing thousands of staff, while others are small to medium-sized businesses. The demand for science and mathematics graduates is currently high and is forecast to increase further. Environmental concerns are just one of the reasons for this growth. Jobs are available throughout the UK.

Scientists, mathematicians and statisticians need to have an enquiring mind and a methodical and thorough approach to their work. Communication skills are important for sharing information with colleagues and customers. Scientists must also pay attention to health and safety regulations.

Entry is usually with a relevant degree, and often a postgraduate qualification. Some jobs require work experience as well. It is also possible to work as a technician or assistant, for which the entry requirements are usually GCSEs at grades (A*-C) or equivalent.

On-the-job training is given to new employees, and they may also study for further qualifications. Continuing professional development (CPD) is important as this field is constantly changing and developing.

Career progression is often to senior supervisory and management roles, and there are sometimes opportunities to work abroad.