Laboratory Technician (chemistry)

I joined a pharmaceutical company straight from school. I am now studying part time for a degree.

​So, what do you do?

I purify compounds, to prepare them for biological testing. I started off as a synthetic chemist and five months ago transferred to become an analytical chemist.

What does your typical day involve?

Preparing and analysing samples, purifying them, then testing them to see if they are clean again. I am also part of a board of people who support further education whilst working. I attend meetings to discuss other peoples work and how we can improve what we do as a whole. I spend one day a week at university.

Why did you decide on a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

I enjoyed chemistry at school. To be honest I didn’t know much about what the job I was taking on would actually involve, but I have been lucky and I enjoy it.

What qualifications do you have?

I had three A-levels, Chemistry, Biology and Psychology. I joined a pharmaceutical company straight from school. I am studying part time for a degree, in my fourth year of five years of study.

What made you decide to go straight into work when you left school?

I didn’t want to study full time, yet I wanted to gain some further qualifications. When I saw this scheme advertised in my local paper it seemed like an ideal solution.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Managing to obtain good grades whilst still working hard!

What is it like socially where you work?

The social life is good, there’s a social club and a gym, with plenty of facilities and classes. Whatever your hobby you can find someone else who enjoys it too.

What possibilities are there for your career in the future?

The possibilities are very varied. Working for such a big company there are so many different departments I could do some work in. I could even work in a different country.

What do you think are the most important skills for someone in your role to have?

Attention to detail, and an enjoyment of chemistry, and willingness to continually learn and take on new technology.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone seeking a career in the pharmaceutical industry?

The desire to succeed counts for so much.


Case study

Production Coordinator

Attracted by an advertisement for apprentices I decided to join the company’s work-based degree scheme rather than going straight to university.