Protein Science jobs and careers

Why consider a career as a  Protein Scientist?

A career in Protein Science exposes you to an array of amazing opportunities. The industry is very rapidly expanding with the increase in preclinical drug discovery and the application of machine learning to protein science. Protein Scientists support drug discovery projects that transform healthcare and be a part of the journey to discover cures for untreatable diseases.

What a job or career in Protein Science may entail…

As a Protein Scientist, you will be working in a laboratory mostly involved in drug discovery projects. The area of “protein science” is very broad and varied.

Typical role titles include

Protein Biochemist
Protein Scientist
Drug Discovery Scientist
Protein Production Scientist
Protein Purification Scientist
Protein Characterisation Scientist

Career progression example

Junior Protein Scientist
Protein Scientist
Senior Protein Scientist
Principal Protein Scientist
Head of Protein Science
Associate Director

Salary Benchmarks

alaries are dependent on the company and the exact areas of responsibility of each role. Generally, roles based in Cambridge, London and Oxford will be higher paying than anywhere else in the UK as these are the hubs for science with many companies competing for top talent.  The below are a rough benchmark.

Junior Protein Scientist – Usually someone who has a master’s degree with a year in industry or someone who has done a placement year. People can get into Protein Science directly from a master but would need to be highly relevant to the company. Salaries for these roles range from £25,000 to £30,000.

Protein Scientist – Usually someone who has a master’s and a couple of years’ experience, or someone who has done a PhD and is looking to go straight into industry. The salary guide for this is between £35,000 – £45,000.

Senior Protein Scientist – Usually someone who has a few years’ experience in Protein Science. This is normally someone who has a PhD with a postdoc that has been about 2/3 years or someone who has a master’s with about 5 years’ experience in industry. Salaries for these roles tend to be between £45,000 and £60,000.

Principal Protein Scientist – Usually someone who is a real expert in the field and has extensive experience working within the space. They tend to bring at least 10 years’ experience. Salaries for this kind of role could be between £65,000 – £85,000.

Head of Protein Science – Salaries for senior posts of this kind tend to sit between £75,000 to £100,000.

Is it right for me? The skills it takes…

There are a lot of different skills that can lead to different paths, but the typical skills listed on job specifications are:

  • Protein expression, that can either be in bacterial, yeast, mammalian or insect expression systems.
  • Protein purification using techniques such as FPLC, AKTA pure – chromatography (SEC, IEX, affinity etc) or filtration (TFF or UFDF).
  • Protein cloning skills, using Gibson assembly, Golden gate.
  • Characterisation assays to assess stability, purity and activity to QC and rank candidate protein using techniques such as ELISA, flow cytometry, cell viability assays etc.
  • Protein Production.
  • Cell Engineering, for the expression of novel proteins to target cells.

There is a range of different protein targets that can be worked on and they depend on the company, but these can be membrane proteins, monoclonal antibodies, multi-valent biologics, antibodies, T-cells, peptide-HLA’s and a large number of others. Most people in the space will have specific experience working within one of these and will then stay within this area for their whole career.

What qualifications does it take?

The majority of clients within in this field will look for a PhD or master’s, that is heavily focused on Protein Science, plus industry experience is a benefit depending on the level of the role.

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