Mini Career Profiles

The mini -profiles below will give you a snap shot of the industry, the careers you could pursue within them, and a bit more about what they do.

  • Actuary

    As an actuary, you will use your mathematical skills for risk management: analysing the probability of future events. Your work will be useful to many industries where the financial impact of a decision could be vast, such as healthcare, banking and investments, and pensions. The qualifications you receive as an actuary will be internationally recognised, and it is clearly a very highly regarded career.

    What skills do I need?

    • Good problem-solving skills
    • Excellent mathematical skills
    • Business acumen
    • Good communication skills

    What is a typical working day?

    • Meeting with clients
    • Researching and writing reports
    • Reviewing financial data
    • Discussing product strategies

    How much will I earn?

    Starting salary as a student is normally set at around £32, 842. This can rise to between £46,000 and £60,000 on qualification.

    How do I become an actuary?

    You will need an A-Level in Maths, and at least a 2.1 in your undergraduate degree. Whilst any degree course is accepted, subjects such as mathematics, economics, statistics, engineering, chemistry or physics are preferred. After graduating, you will have to join an actuarial firm and develop your skills whilst you qualify.

    It might be a good idea to gain some work experience, either before or whilst you are at university. Have a look at the Directory of Actuarial Employers (www.actuaries.org.uk/research-and-resources/documents/directory-actuarial-employers) for a list of the companies which offer work experience.

  • Architecture

    An architect designs buildings and other structures, but there is more to the job than just this! He or she also needs to consider economical, functional, safety and aesthetic matters and ensure that structures suit the requirements of the people who use them.

    If you have an interest in buildings and construction and are creative and well-organised, architecture could be the right career for you.

    What skills will I need?

    • Good IT skills
    • Good negotiating skills
    • Strong mathematical ability
    • Good business acumen
    • Ability to work under pressure and to deadlines
    • Practical and scientific skills
    • An awareness of the social and environmental impact of your work

    What does a typical working day involve?

    • Drafting business plans
    • Researching legal issues
    • Designing small models of buildings
    • Hours are spent split between an office, construction work sites and home studios.

    Salary

    After experience, you could expect to be earning between £34,000 and £42,000 a year.

    Routes in

    There are five stages to becoming an architect:

    1. University undergraduate degree in architecture (three years full time).
    2. A year (or more) of practical experience either under the supervision of a qualified architect or another qualified construction industry professional.
    3. University degree (two years full time).
    4. Further practical experience. At this stage graduates will be given more responsibility on projects.
    5. Final Qualifying Exam.

    A-Level and GCSE subjects required: ideally you should aim to have as broad a secondary education as possible, encompassing arts and sciences. Although you do not need to study art, it is important that you enjoy drawing in freehand and find 3D and design work interesting. Make sure you check the website of the universities you apply for to see whether they have any specific entry requirements; most will prefer a maths or science subject at A-Level.

    Links

    The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA): www.architecture.com

  • Clinical Psychologist

    What does a career as a Clinical Psychologist involve?

    Clinical psychologists are responsible for dealing with a variety of mental and physical health problems, such as addiction, anxiety, depression, learning difficulties and relationship issues. Their work often involves undertaking a clinical assessment to investigate a clients’ situation, perhaps through psychometric tests, interviews, and direct observation of behaviour.

    Where do Clinical Psychologists work?

    Most clinical psychologists are employed by the NHS, but some work in private practice. They are based in hospitals, health centres, community mental teams, and social services.

    Typical Work Activities

    • Counselling and supporting carers
    • Assessing a client’s needs or behaviour using a variety of methods
    • Working as part of a team alongside doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists and psychiatrists.
    • Devising and monitoring treatment programmes
    • Providing consultation to other professionals

    Skills Required

    • Empathy
    • Tolerance of stress
    • Good communication and inter-personal skills
    • Self-motivation and independence
    • Team-working skills

    Routes In

    You will need a 2.1 degree in psychology from an institution accepted by the British Psychological Society. For a full list of courses, see: www.bps.org.uk/bpslegacy/ac.

    Average Salary

    £25,783 – £47,088 depending on experience.

    Links

    The British Psychological Society

  • Consulting

    A consultant is responsible for providing external advice to organisations that require an outside perspective or specialist expertise on their business. He or she will usually identify or assess a problem, report the findings and make suggestions for improvement. The areas that consultants can work in include:

    • Marketing
    • Environmental Management
    • Human Resources
    • Business Strategy
    • Quality Management
    • Information Technology

    What skills do I need?

    • Good communication and people skills
    • Strong analytical and IT skills
    • The capacity for independent thinking
    • Business acumen
    • Flexibility
    • The ability to cope well with pressure

    What will a typical working day involve?

    • Conducting analysis
    • Preparing business proposals
    • Interviewing clients
    • Managing projects and programmes

    What will my salary be like?

    Analysts (roles for new graduates) will earn in the region of £32,000 per year. Typically after three years of experience, a consultant will earn £50,000.

    How do I become a consultant?

    Consulting jobs are open to graduates from any degree discipline, but subjects such as business, finance, economics, engineering and science are preferred. It would be a good idea to try to get some work experience before you apply. This could also include extra-curricular activities like sport and club membership, or involvement in a society that would require business or finance knowledge and team-working skills.

    You don’t have to go to university to become a consultant, however. Many large consulting firms such as PwC offer prestigious school leaver programmes that normally last for two years. To qualify, you will need at least three A-Levels (excluding general studies) Check the websites below for more information.

    Links:
    www.insidecareers.co.uk/professions/management-consultancy
    For School Leavers: www.allaboutschoolleavers.co.uk/jobs/job/4553013/higher-apprenticeship-opportunities-consulting

  • Dentistry

    Summary

    As much as we all hate going to the dentist, they are some of the most highly-skilled practitioners around the world and are responsible for the prevention and treatment of problems that affect your mouth and teeth.

    Most dentists work as self-employed practitioners, offering dental care under the NHS, but some also work privately. Dentists also work in specialist posts in hospitals, community clinics, as university lecturers and in research. Other specialisms include: orthodontists, dental surgeons who remove tricky wisdom teeth and maxillofacial prosthetics for people in need of facial reconstruction surgery.

    Typical work activities

    • Informing and education patients on oral healthcare
    • Inspecting a patient’s teeth and diagnosing conditions
    • Carrying out clinical treatments such as fillings, extractions and whitening
    • Managing budgets and attracting new clients to the surgery
    • Ensuring they are up-to-date with the latest developments in the industry
    • Training and managing staff

    Skills required

    • Willingness to learn and make sense of scientific knowledge
    • Good manual dexterity
    • Ability to offer advice and educate others
    • Happy to work as part of a team
    • Excellent people skills

    Average salary

    £38,095 – £81,480. Specialist consultants earn between £75,249 and £101,451 per year depending on length of service.

    Routes in

    Dentistry is a highly competitive course and most universities will expect top A-Level grades in scientific subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics. Becoming a dentist involves a minimum of five years of study at a dental school, followed by one or two years of supervised practice.

    Some dental schools offer a ‘pre-dental’ course which is aimed at students who have proven academic ability but who do not have the necessary science qualifications to apply. You can read about this in more detail on the individual university websites.

    Alternatives

    If you don’t fancy spending all that time training, then you could explore a career as a dental nurse or hygienist. The dental nurse assists during clinical treatments and the hygienist gives your teeth a thorough clean as well as offering advice on how to look after your teeth.

    Useful links

    The British Dental Association: www.bda.org
    The NHS: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore-by-career
    The General Dental Council: www.gdc-uk.org

  • Human Resources

    Those who work in Human Resources are responsible for all the functions of a business that relate to its employees. The benefits of working in this area are that you are able to influence many aspects of the organisation, assist in the development of employees, and play a part in the making of business decisions.

    You can expect to find yourself involved in:

    • Recruitment and selection
    • Training and development
    • Employee Direction
    • Employee relations
    • Contracts of employment
    • Health and safety
    • Appraisals

    What skills will I need?

    • You will need to genuinely care about the wellbeing and development of the employees at your firm, so strong people skills are essential.
    • Close attention to detail
    • A proven track record of making a difference
    • Good negotiating skills

    What would my salary be?

    Starting salary is set at around £24,000, rising to £30,000 after experience. For senior posts, such as HR directors, typical salaries can range from £75,000 – £100,000.

    Routes in

    This area of work is open to all graduates, but subjects such as human resources management, business, social administration and psychology are particularly relevant. It would be good to get some work experience before starting your applications. Involving yourself in extra-curricular activities which would hone your team-working and leadership skills would also be very helpful.

    Links

    www.cipd.co.uk/hr-careers

    The Society for Human Resources Management: www.shrm.org/Pages/default.aspx

  • Journalism

    Skills required

    • Excellent written skills and close attention to detail
    • Competency in digital and social media
    • An eye for images and layout
    • Good communication skills
    • The stamina and flexibility to work long hours in different environments
    • Being able to work to tight deadlines

    What might a typical working day involve?

    • Conducting interviews
    • Typing up stories for submission to an editor
    • Reading press-releases
    • Attending press conferences
    • Researching new stories to write

    Salary

    Starting salaries are between £15,000 and £20,000 per year. With experience, you can expect to earn between £18,000 and £40,000. Top-level journalists and editors can receive in excess of £100,000 a year, but the number of such positions is very limited and they are highly sought after.

    Routes in

    There is no obvious route into journalism. Any degree is accepted, although some areas might require specialised knowledge, e.g. science or economics. Work experience is a must, particularly because for most job interviews you will have to provide a portfolio of previous work. The industry is extremely competitive, and so some candidates choose to do an M.A. degree to increase their job prospects, though this is of course not essential. Some newspapers such as the Telegraph and large organisations such as the BBC offer year-long work experience placements for graduates, which can be a great way to kick-start your career. It is however important to recognise that these year-long placements do not have a guaranteed job at the end.

    Links

    Broadcast Journalism Training Council : www.bjtc.org.uk
    Careers advice from the Guardian : www.careers.theguardian.com/journalism-careers

  • Nursing

    What does a job in nursing involve?

    As a nurse, you could find yourself working in every sort of setting, from A&E to patients’ homes, helping people from different backgrounds and with different ages.

    Careers available:

    • Adult nurses
    • Mental health nurses
    • Children’s nurses
    • Learning and disability nurses
    • District nurses
    • Neonatal nurses
    • Health visitors
    • Practice Nurses
    • School nurses
    • Theatre nurses

    If you decide to work for the NHS, there are many benefits, including flexible working arrangements, excellent benefits and a clear career progression ladder.

    Skills Required

    • You must be caring and compassionate
    • You must have a commitment to helping people
    • You must have good communication skills, so that you can discuss difficult health issues effectively
    • You must have good team-working skills

    Average Salary

    Starting salary for qualified nurses is around 21,000.

    Routes In

    You will need a degree in nursing. Check the NHS website for a comprehensive list of course providers: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/courses. There are currently no national minimum academic entry requirements, so each Higher Education Institution sets its own criteria. You will need to check with your course provider before you apply to see if your qualifications meet their entry standard. All applicants will have to demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy.

    Links

    NHS nursing: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/explore-by-career/nursing
    Job Profiles on the National Careers’ Service Website: www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobfamily/Pages/medicineandnursing.aspx

  • Optometry

    What does Optometry involve?

    Optometrists are health care specialists whose job it is to check people’s eyes for defects in vision, signs of injury, diseases of the eye, and general health issues.

    Most optometrists work in high street practices, but some work in hospitals alongside other healthcare professionals such as doctors.

    What does an Optometrist do on a typical day?

    • Communicating with patients to get detailed case histories
    • Using specialist equipment for diagnosis
    • Offering advice and reassurance to patients about their eyes
    • Writing referrals to doctors
    • Meeting sales targets with regard to selling spectacles or contact lenses

    Skills Required

    • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
    • A high degree of accuracy
    • Manual dexterity
    • The ability to keep up to date with scientific and technological developments
    • Good attention to detail
    • A good understanding of scientific principles.

    Average Salary

    £19,500 – £28,000 starting salary, rising to between £37,500 and £53,000 at senior level.

    Routes In

    You will need:

    • A minimum of five GCSE passes at grades A*-C including English or English Literature, Mathematics, and a Science based subject.
    • 3 A-Levels, generally in a science-based subject such as biology, chemistry or physics. ABB or five Scottish Highers is a normal university offer for this subject.
    • A degree in optometry at one of the universities approved by the General Optical Council. (GOC) See this website for more details:
    http://www.college-optometrists.org/en/qualifying-as-an-optometrist/at-university-/university_contacts.cfm

    Links

    The College of Optometrists: www.college-optometrists.org

  • Pharmacy

    What does a job in Pharmacy involve?

    Pharmacists are experts in medicine, and work in different areas, including:

    • Community
    • Hospital
    • Primary Care
    • Academia
    • Industry
    • Veterinary Pharmacy
    • Regulatory Pharmacy
    • Pharmacy in the Army

    If you are interested in science and how medicines help patients to manage their condition, this could be the right career for you.

    Pharmacists advise doctors, nurses, and patients about the most effective treatments for certain conditions, and how to use medicines safely and effectively. They also supervise other members of the pharmacy team who are involved in the supply, manufacture and purchase of medicines and will recommend changes to prescriptions and give advice on prescribing.

    What skills do I need?

    • A high level of scientific ability and understanding
    • You will need to be good at problem-solving
    • You will need to be responsible
    • You will need to be security-conscious

    Routes in

    You will need:

    • A-B level grades in Chemistry and two of biology, mathemetics and physics.
    • A four year masters degree in pharmacy
    • One year’s practical training in a community or hospital pharmacy
    • To pass a registration exam

    Average Salary

    Starting salary is usually between £20,000 and £30,000, and after ten years, you could be expecting to earn anything between £35,000 and £60,000.

    Links

    Royal Pharmaceutical Society: rpharms.com/careers

  • Physiotherapy

    Human Resources
    Journalism
    Nursing
    Optometry
    Pharmacy
    Physiotherapy

    What is Physiotherapy?

    Physiotherapy is a type of therapy designed to help ill, injured or disabled people recover movement. Each physiotherapist works in a specialist area, such as:

    • Mental health
    • Neurology (including stroke patients)
    • Sports
    • Recovery after major surgery
    • Long-term conditions
    • Paediatrics

    Current approaches used in physiotherapy include:

    • Aquatic Therapy
    • Manual Therapy Techniques
    • Therapeutic Exercise
    • Application of electro-physical modalities

    Where would I be working?

    Nowadays, it is just as common for a physiotherapist to be working in the community (in care homes, schools, health centres and in patients’ homes) as within a hospital. A growing number are employed by GPs.

    Skills Required

    • Good communication skills
    • The ability to develop a relationship with patients and their families, and to be compassionate
    • Practical ability
    • Good team-working skills
    • You will need to be very hands-on
    • Tolerant
    • An interest in science

    Average Salary

    Between 21,388 and £27,901 per year. Specialist physiotherapists can earn up to £34,500. Salaries in the private sector are usually about the same as in the NHS.

    Routes In

    In order to become a chartered physiotherapist, you need a degree or postgraduate award in physiotherapy. Check the Chartered Society for Physiotherapists website for a full list of course providers.

    Most institutions will require three A-Levels including a biological science and at least five GCSEs (A-C) including Maths, English and a Science.

    Alternative Entry Routes

    Apprenticeships: you could prepare for entry to a physiotherapy degree by undertaking an apprenticeship in healthcare. These usually include clinical placements and working towards a qualification. To find out more, visit http://www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

    Physiotherapy Assistant: you could take a part-time or in-service degree in physiotherapy whilst working as an assistant. See here (https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/physiotherapyassistant.aspx) for more information about what a physiotherapy assistant does.

    Accelerated or postgraduate courses: If you have a 2.1 or above in your degree in a relevant subject such as sports science or biomedical science, you could qualify as a physiotherapist by taking a fast-track postgraduate course. Check the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (see link below) for more details.

    Useful Advice

    When you apply, it might be useful to have some previous relevant unpaid or paid work experience.

    There are usually some volunteering opportunities available with the NHS and with local charities in your area. Have a look at this website for more information:
    http://www.nhscareers.nhs.uk/working-in-the-nhs/joining-the-nhs/volunteering-in-the-nhs/

    Links

    Chartered Society of Physiotherapy: www.csp.org.uk
    National Careers Service: www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

  • Podiatry

    What is Podiatry?

    Podiatrists are healthcare professionals responsible for assessing, diagnosing and treating problems relating to the lower limb. Podiatrists work with a huge range of patients which provides a great variety of work. Being a podiatrist is an incredibly rewarding as they nearly always get instant feedback from patients, as they relieve their symptoms, treat their conditions and maintain their quality of life.

    The areas of clinical practice include:

    • Biomechanical assessment
    • Forensic Podiatry
    • Podo-peadiatrics
    • Diabetes
    • Sports injuries
    • Anaesthetics
    • Wound care
    • Skin, nail and bone surgery
    • Health promotion

    Where we work

    Podiatrists can work in many settings including high street multidisciplinary practices, NHS GP surgeries, hospitals, in the community or in professional or amateur sports or fitness clubs. You could become a medical researcher or a University lecturer. The possibilities are endless.

    Skills required

    • Good communication skills
    • Able to work in a team
    • Practical and organisised
    • Ability to work on your own initiative
    • Caring
    • An interest in science

    Salary

    In the NHS you start at band 5 earning £21,760 but can go up to £97,478 as a Consultant Podiatric Surgeon. If you choose to set up and run your own private practice your earnings can be into six figures but will depend on the kind of clinic you run, where you are based and the hours that you work.

    Routes into Podiatry

    The standard entry requirement on to an undergraduate degree course in podiatry is three A-levels and at least 5 GCSE’s (A-C). Access course and BTEC can be accepted with relevant areas of study. The actual entry qualifications vary between the Universities.
    A list of the 13 uni’s that offer the BS(c) in Podiatry are listed here http://www.scpod.org/help/guide-to-navigation/find-out-about-schools-of-podiatry/

    Handy info

    It is useful to have done some work experience with a podiatrist before going to interviews with the universities. There are no tuition fee’s for UK & European students, when studying podiatry and students may be eligible for a bursary as well.

    Links
    http://careersinpodiatry.com/
    http://www.scpod.org/

  • Project Management

    What does a Project Manager do?

    Project managers work in almost every industry, on many different types of venture. They are responsible for planning and managing business projects and making sure that they are completed to time, within budget and to specification. Typical daily tasks include:

    • Agreeing the costs and timescale involved in the project
    • Drawing up a detailed plan and schedule for how each stage of the project will be achieved
    • Selecting and leading a team for a project
    • Reporting regularly on progress to the client or senior managers
    • Managing risk to avoid delays on the project

    What skills are required?

    • Good attention to detail
    • Excellent time-management and organisational skills
    • A good understanding of business
    • Communication and negotiation skills
    • Problem-solving abilities
    • Good IT skills

    Average Salary

    Between £25,000 and £50,000 a year. Top salaries can reach £80,000 or more.

    Routes in

    There are various routes to becoming a project manager. Some project managers have a degree in project management, or in a subject relevant to their industry. Others become project managers on the back of their experience, for example after starting in the project support team.

    Useful university degree subjects include Project Management, Business Management, IT, and Construction Management.

    It is useful to have a background in the following:

    • Business
    • Management
    • Engineering
    • Construction
    • Accountancy
    • Manufacturing
    • Engineering
    • Science and technology
    • Information technology

    Links

    The Project Management Institute: www.pmi.org/
    The Association for Project Management: www.apm.org.uk/
    PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments): www.prince-officialsite.com/
    National Careers Service: https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/projectmanager.aspx

  • Radiographer

    What is a Radiographer?

    There are two different types of radiographer: therapeutic and diagnostic.

    What does a therapeutic radiographer do? A therapeutic radiographer is the person responsible for using radiation in highly controlled conditions in order to treat cancer. He or she will be involved in preparation treatment, planning, the delivery of the radiation, and the follow-up stages.

    What about a diagnostic radiographer? Diagnostic radiographers produce images that are used to diagnose disease or injury. These include X-rays, Fluroscopy (images of the digestive system), CT (Computed Tomography, creating a 3-D image), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging, building maps of different types of tissue in the body), ultrasound (used for obstetrics, gynaecology, checking circulation and to examine the heart), and Angiography (examining blood vessels).

    Why should I become a Radiographer?

    • REPUTATION AND JOB SATISFACTION
    Both diagnostic and therapeutic radiographers provide an essential service to millions of people every year. They are a crucial part of the health service. The College of Radiographers has calculated that 6 out of 10 patients who receive radiotherapy treatment for cancer are cured. As well as being a highly regarded job, it is also clearly a very rewarding one.
    • PASSPORT TO A JOB
    Radiography students pay no tuition fees and most are eligible for NHS bursaries.
    • PROMOTION OPPORTUNITIES
    There is a secure grading structure in place, with increases in salary as you move up the profession. Management opportunities are also available.

    Skills Required

    • Good communication skills
    • An interest in science
    • Ability to learn new skills and adapt – the profession is constantly changing through technological developments
    • Good inter-personal skills: you will need to be able to develop relationships with patients and their families, and provide support to patients who may be frightened or uncertain about the future.

    Average Salary

    £35,000 per year or more for the top earners.

    Routes In

    The Society of Radiographers lists all of the UK validated and approved Bsc courses which lead to professional qualification. Most university courses last three or four years. See:
    http://www.sor.org/about-radiography/career-radiography/directory-courses

    The minimum entry requirements for most courses are several A-C GCSE grades and three GCE A-S and A-levels (including a science) at grade C or above. Alternatives to A-Levels are also considered.

    Links

    College of Radiographers: http://www.sor.org/
    Radiography Careers: http://www.radiographycareers.co.uk/

  • Research Data Analyst

    What does a job as a Research & Data Analyst involve?

    Research and data analysts are responsible for analysing statistics that have been collected through market research surveys. On a typical day you would be:

    • Writing research proposals
    • Checking that data has been collected
    • Analysing data that has been collected using statistical programmes and techniques
    • Presenting your findings through talks and presentations and explaining how your findings can best be presented to the client.

    Skills Required

    • Ability to work well under pressure
    • Ability to interpret and analyse statistics
    • Good spoken and written skills
    • Excellent mathematical and computer skills
    • Accuracy and good attention to detail

    Average Salary

    Starting salaries are usually around £22,000. With experience, earnings can rise up to between £25,000 and £35,000, and senior roles are set at between £40,000 and £55,000.

    Routes In

    You will need a degree in statistics or a subject that involves statistics, such as Maths, Business Studies or Economics.

    These courses usually require at least five GCSEs at grades A-C plus three A-Levels including Maths.

    Many market research data analysts also have a Masters degree (MSc) or PhD in Statistics, or Applied Statistics.

    Links

    National Careers Service:
    www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/advice/planning/jobprofiles/Pages/marketresearchdataanalyst.aspx

    Market Research Society:
    www.mrs.org.uk

    Association for Qualitative Research:
    www.aqr.org.uk