How to Find a Job

Finding a job in any industry is daunting, not just medical research. This page aims to take you through the process including general advice, what to expect when you apply, and current vacancies. To find out more about life as a medical statistician or programmer and what to expect in your career, please visit our Job Roles page or Career Progression page.

Where do I start?

Research the industry! If you are reading this page, you likely want to be employed in medical research. However, there are a range of organizations within medical research and you could either work in the pharmaceutical industry or academia.

Try to think about what you are looking for in a job – whether it’s having time to focus and research in a particular area of statistics, providing statistical oversight for the whole drug development process or both programming and statistical consultation. As long as you are interested in healthcare, there will be something for you.

Make sure you have the minimum requirements for the role. For a medical statistician role, this is usually an MSc in statistics or medical statistics. For a statistical programmer role, this is usually a BSc in a maths, statistics or computing related degree.


What roles are available?

The most common pathways into medical research are either as a medical statistician/programmer in the pharmaceutical industry or in academia.

The following websites will contain further information about available job vacancies, in addition to your university careers service and specialist recruitment agencies:

Further to this, the table below comprises popular companies that may have vacancies available. These vacancies are usually advertised on the PSI website as well.

How do I apply?

Applications usually consist of a CV and a cover letter but this varies company to company. Their website will provide information on what they expect you to prepare. However, always make sure to include a cover Letter with a CV even if they don’t request it specifically. Sometimes you may be required to complete an application form but this is likely to expand or take the place of a cover letter.

Always proofread and check for errors/spelling mistakes!

Recruiters will expect the following in your application

  • Basic qualifications: University Degree/A-levels and other equivalent awards
  • Programming experience: R, SAS® (Pharma/CROs) and STATA (CTUs)
  • Relevant work experience: placements, MSc projects, internships, short term jobs
  • Genuine interest: in the industry, role and organisation

The last bullet is most important as it is this that will separate the same two (or similar candidates). The organisation is looking for the value you can provide to them and the motivation to back this up.

What should I expect at an interview?

Again, this will vary depending on the organisation you are applying to but it is likely to be a full or half day consisting of one or more of the following:

  • Technical Interview with two (or more) staff in Statistics
  • Competency Interview with HR or staff in Statistics
  • Presentation on a stats topic in your degree or prior job role
  • Group task if many applicants are being interviewed at the same time
  • Tests such as review of outputs, SAS ® or other programming tests, soft skills test and essay writing tests

The company should contact you with further instructions prior to interview, but there are examples of common questions available online. The most important thing to remember is to highlight why you want to join the industry/organisation, what you can bring to that organisation (including technical skills), and that you can communicate technical concepts clearly.

Top Tips

To help you through this process, click on each button for a top tip! 

Have a clear understanding of the organisations within the medical statistics field, what they do and what your role might entail. You will be prepared at interview and stand out from the other candidates.

For a statistics role, major organisations require at least an MSc in medical statistics/statistics or similar. For a programming role, most companies require a mathematical, statistical or computing related degree

See if you can get a placement within the company you are interested for your MSc project.

Reach out to people working in medical statistics! Whether it’s learning more about the field or asking about available opportunities, using social media or attending events such as this to reach out to them proves your enthusiasm and drive for a role.

The PSI website has a wealth of resources such as careers booklets and previous university presentations on medical statistics. Also search LinkedIn and the Allstat mailing list for online job advertisements.

register with recruitment agencies working within the medical statistics field as they may have opportunities that aren’t yet posted online

Don’t forget these! You are likely to be asked to present or participate in a group task at interview.

You can get great advice about good interview practice, sometimes even after you graduate.

Read company websites. Whether it’s a Clinical Trials Unit (CTU), Contract Research Organisation (CRO) or Pharmaceutical company, you can learn more about the different organisations within the field and the types of jobs available

Any work experience is valuable. Time working in a bar or volunteering on a committee can provide you with examples of applying various key skills during interview! Experience relevant to medical statistics will make you stand out from the crowd even more; even if it’s just shadowing someone or something more formal such as an internship.

STATA (Academic), R and SAS® (Industry) are the main programming languages. R is free to download and there is a free academic version of SAS® Studio. Make sure to start learning to get a head start!

Make sure to attend any speed networking evenings, careers fairs, company presentations, PSI talks and other PSI events. Remember PSI has free student membership so you can be notified in advance!

make sure your profile is up to date and relevant with a clear, professional profile photo. Some applications can now take details from your profile automatically, or a recruiter may be able to head-hunt you!

call a company directly to ask for opportunities or email your CV and covering letter to different companies even if a job is not advertised.

Don’t be afraid to apply for a role that isn’t specifically advertised as a graduate role. If you feel you match the desired skills and qualities for the role but do not necessarily have the exact years of experience there is no harm in applying!

why not apply for a GradStat award if your course was accredited? Check with the RSS.

Final Remarks

The CALC wish you all the best in applying to the job you want! If you have any further questions after visiting this page, please contact us.

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