Career Alternatives for Scientists

The Lab is not all there is.

Many people, having completed their BSc, MSc or PhD, or perhaps having worked in a lab for several years, feel that laboratory work is no longer for them.

This is not uncommon and lots of people, including us here at Seltek Consultants, may feel this way. While there seems to be a ‘natural’ progression after education in science to ‘do science’ in the lab, there are many reasons why this is not for everyone and there are a lot of choices out there.

Just because you are not in the lab does not mean you are any less integral to the world of science or will not get to use the expertise you have developed. There is a range of careers that still need scientists, who understand the science but have something extra to add as well. From scientific writing to medical scientific liaison, intellectual property law to consultancy, teaching, and even maybe recruitment, you will be surprised just how many options you have.

Here at Seltek, we specialise in the commercial world of science, where science meets the customer. If you have a passion for science that you want to share, maybe a commercial role is for you.


Sales in the scientific sector is not what most people think. In this role, you would be supporting scientists by providing them with the tools that they need to succeed, from the humble pipette tip to the latest in breakthrough technology. While you will have sales targets, the focus of the role is all about problem-solving, whether it is in terms of technology or price-point.

Job titles and functions can vary a lot within sales, from Inside Sales Specialists and Account Managers to Technical Sales Specialists and Business Development Managers. If you are target-driven and enjoy talking about science this can be an incredibly rewarding career, both emotionally and financially.


Seen as the voice of the company this is a great career for those that want to bring a bit of creativity to their job. While you are directly involved with the commercial activities of the company you do not always need to be out in front of the customer. From creating content to optimising google ad campaigns or possibly taking a more strategic approach, planning product launches, and deciding where the product should sit within the market.

While additional education in marketing can give you an advantage, building your own experience out of the sector can be just as useful if not more so.


Possibly the most natural transition for those that have done a PhD or have a few years of lab experience, you are involved with the full sales process without being responsible for ‘closing the deal’. Helping with the sales team from a technical perspective you are a product expert, answering questions on how the product fits within the lab’s workflow and could take their work to the next level. Once the customer has purchased you will be involved in training the users and offering ongoing support to help them get the most out of their new technology.

If you enjoy sharing your passion and expertise, this is a great career choice to step out of the lab.

Technical Support

A crucial role within the industry and someone you may have already spoken with during your time in the lab. Those in technical support can really be the difference between success and failure for those in the lab, ensuring that equipment to doing what it should to the best of its ability. Having a deep understanding of your area of expertise you will be troubleshooting with scientists from a multitude of labs from Academia to some of the largest Biotech via phone, email, and webchat.

It’s not only about when things go wrong but offering advice and support, lending your expert opinion and experience to help shape research. If you enjoy the feeling of helping someone and like a good puzzle, technical support could be the pathway for you.

Plenty of choices

Hopefully, you have seen that there is a world of science outside of the lab, if you are interested in exploring this world, we would be happy to help.

Why not read more of our advice articles here.