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Healthcare science is at the forefront of scientific and technological developments in healthcare, and will play an increasingly important role in improving outcomes for patients.

There are about 45 specialties within healthcare science and these can be split into three divisions: 

  • Life sciences

  • Physiological sciences

  • Physical sciences and engineering

After a healthcare science BSc

Key opportunities for healthcare graduates will be in NHS laboratories, but could also be within community clinics or research. Skills gained on the healthcare science courses will relate to other life science opportunities, for example in clinical trials, drug regulatory work, medical communications, scientific journalism, forensics, or areas such as medical sales.

Some life scientists may look to the accelerated courses for graduates in areas such as medicine, dentistry and physiotherapy, or work in scientific policy-making for government. Early contact with a careers adviser would be recommended if considering these accelerated courses, and may be helpful in considering career options for any subject.

Other areas to which healthcare science can lead include biological sciences, human bioscience and biomedical sciences.

Postgraduate academic options

There are numerous study options available to those who are considering further study in healthcare science.  Research is always a popular option for health scientists and it is not a necessity to undertake this straight after graduation. Graduates can go on to Masters courses in order to build on their specialist knowledge, and some then consider a PhD.

NHS postgraduate careers

Alternatively, if you have a first or upper second degree in a relevant subject then you are eligible to apply for the Scientist Training Programme (STP), which is a three-year programme of in-depth training in a specialist area which will equip you to work at the forefront of scientific healthcare research.

The STP includes practical experience and academic study leading to a specialist diploma or MSc, and trainees on the STP are salaried.

The minimum requirement for entry to the STP is a relevant 2:1 degree, but if you have relevant postgraduate qualifications then this could be advantageous.

In addition, Higher Specialist Scientific Training is being developed at a consultant level. This is a training programme similar to medical consultant training, leading to medical royal college examinations, where these exist, and may result in a doctoral award. The programme is supported by the development of workplace-based assessment tools, assessment of equivalent learning and the development of academic careers.

NHS links

Additional information on careers in healthcare science can be found on the NHS Careers website. NHS Careers has also produced a useful leaflet on healthcare science as a career, found here, and video about school-leavers considering healthcare science, found here.

If you are interested in working for the NHS in the field of healthcare science then you can register your interest by joining ‘Step into the NHS’. Click here for further information.



If you are thinking of a career in healthcare science then you should be aware of the differences in the way that healthcare scientists are registered. Some healthcare science professions join a voluntary register whereas some other professions (those with protected titles in law) must register with a statutory regulator in order to practise.

Hearing aid dispensers, clinical scientists and biomedical scientists are all regulated by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

Information about the different scientist roles is available on the NHS Careers website.

The Academy for Healthcare Science has also produced a statement providing further information on the registration requirements for Practitioner Training Programme graduates. It can be found here.

Approved programmes

If you are considering becoming a biomedical or clinical scientist and you successfully complete a Health and Care Professions Council-approved programme then you will be eligible to join their register. Further information about the Health and Care Professions Council can be found on their website.

For biomedical scientists, the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) is recognised as an education provider by the HCPC. The IBMS provides a route to HCPC registration as a biomedical scientist through IBMS-accredited qualifications and the awarding of the IBMS Certificate of Competence. For further information please visit the IBMS website.

For clinical scientists, the Academy for Healthcare Science is recognised by the HCPC as an education provider and can grant certificates of attainment and equivalence leading to registration with the HCPC as a clinical scientist.  Further information about this is available on the Academy for Healthcare Science website.


Job Types

The healthcare science sector offers a huge number of different jobs, with new roles being formed as methods and technologies evolve over time. Broadly, these jobs can be arranged into three areas.

  • Life sciences

  • Physiological sciences

  • Clinical engineering and medical physics

Life sciences

Roles in this area are largely laboratory-based, using specialist knowledge to provide doctors with the information they need in order to find appropriate treatments for patients. As well as the important work of running tests and analysing samples, these roles may also enable you to develop new techniques for treating common medical problems.

Hospital laboratories are the typical location for these roles, but they can also take place closer to the patients, either on hospital wards or in community settings. Opportunities within the life sciences are diverse and numerous.

Physiological sciences

This is a more hands-on area with regards to treatment. Patients are seen and examined in person so that the specialist knowledge of the healthcare scientist can be used to determine the causes of their medical issues. This knowledge can then be used to aid in the treatment and recovery of the patient.

The majority of this work is in the hospital, but again it is possible to work in the community such as through one-on-one home visits and by engaging with children while visiting schools.

Clinical engineering and medical physics

These areas revolve primarily around the operation of complex, state-of-the-art equipment and being responsible for the safe operation of machines and tools which require a body of technical knowledge to use effectively. These areas are also where the development of this equipment occurs. Hospitals and healthcare environments are becoming increasingly technologised and one of the keys to staying abreast of the challenges presented to modern medicine is to make skilled and innovative use of technology.

These roles mainly take place in hospitals and specialist departments within other institutions.

Visit the NHS Careers website for information on what is involved in each of the roles in the following list.


Physiological sciences

Clinical engineering and medical physics