Working in research with GCSEs (or similar)

To find a job in research in a university or the research department of a large business, you will need experience and/or at least five relevant GCSEs.

The jobs available at this level are similar to the support roles in education. For example, you could work as a trainee laboratory assistant, IT assistant or administration assistant.

Paid work is not always available, as funding can be dependent on grants from business and government. Offering to work voluntarily or looking for an apprenticeship (minimum wage) is a good way to get a foot in the door and give evidence for your CV.

Example jobs

Trainee/apprentice laboratory assistant
Setting up equipment, cleaning up and helping more senior assistants.

Trainee/apprentice IT assistant
Working across departments, checking hardware, fault-finding and doing general computer maintenance.

Trainee admin assistant
Filing, photocopying, some word processing, labelling/addressing, making and taking telephone calls, generally helping in the office.

Approximate pay levels

Figures supplied as a guide only

Apprentices are paid at the minimum wage. Some are paid more and are given expenses while training.

An advanced level apprenticeship could lead on to a higher apprenticeship Level 4 (HND).

Pay levels graph

Typical working conditions

  • Research work that involves carrying out experiments in the laboratory or outside requires tremendous patience.
  • Working to deadlines and set funding can be stressful. Note that this is not always a 9–5 job.
  • Not all research departments have the best premises. They might be cramped and in old buildings. Multinational companies and larger businesses tend to have pleasanter environments, but not always.

Qualifications needed

  • You will need at least five GCSEs, including science subjects. For some jobs, you may need A levels or equivalent diplomas. Check job adverts and the websites of NHS and recruitment agencies online.

Career path

  • You can undertake further qualifications to move up grades within the organisation you work for.
  • If you work in market research with a large company, there may be opportunities to work at home online.
  • Working for the NHS can lead to promotion to other jobs.
  • You might prefer to transfer your skills to other sector/industry jobs.

Useful links

Pearson is not responsible for content on external websites.

The National Apprenticeships Service

NAS - Information and advice about becoming an apprentice

NHS Careers

There are many job opportunities in the NHS in all sectors and apprenticeships are offered