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Scientific Careers

We are fully engaged in the national work to develop education and training programmes for every level of the healthcare scientist workforce, in support of the healthcare science education and career framework which was developed as part of the Modernising Scientific Careers project.

The healthcare science education and career framework sets out different levels or roles for the healthcare science workforce, with education and training programmes designed to deliver the workforce at each level.

Assistant.  Healthcare science assistants undertake clearly defined task and protocol based, high volume, low risk activities requiring some structured training such as vocational training qualifications, for example a phlebotomist.

Associate.  Healthcare science associates undertake more advanced and complex high volume low risk investigative tasks, requiring appropriately trained staff, probably at foundation degree level.  For instance, processing samples through machines in pathology laboratories and fitting hearing aids.

Delivery of the assistant and associate healthcare scientist workforce is via Healthcare Science Apprenticeships at every level, co-ordinated on behalf of HEE in the south west by the Skills Alliance Group.

Practitioner. Healthcare science practitioners apply technology in the delivery and reporting of quality assured tests, investigations and interventions for patients, on samples and equipment.  Practitioner level roles use a degree of judgement and deal with ambiguity within a clinical context.  Practitioners are able to undertake activities which are outlined in ‘protocols’, for instance genetic screening activities.  Delivery of this level of the workforce is typically via Practitioner Training Programmes.

Clinical scientists.  Clinical scientists undertake complex scientific and clinical roles centred on high risk, low volume activities which require highly skilled staff able to exercise clinical judgement about complex facts and clinical situations.  Clinical scientists interact with patients, for instance undertaking a complex heart scan which requires professional judgement and interpretation.  Delivery of this level of the workforce is typically via the Scientist Training Programme.

Consultant/Higher specialist scientist.  Consultant healthcare scientists undertake in-depth, highlight complex roles, equivalent to a medical consultant role.  This requires clinical judgement, scientific expertise and leadership in direct patient care, for example specialist scientific expertise to develop and implement new radiotherapy treatments such as proton beam therapy.  Delivery of this level of the workforce is typically via the Higher Specialist Scientist Training programme.

The National School of Healthcare Science has a central role in developing, accrediting, assessing and co-ordinating healthcare science education and training programmes at every level.  More information can be found on the National School of Healthcare Science website.

More information on careers in healthcare science can also be found on the NHS Health Careers website.


This Page was last updated on: 19 November 2015

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