Chemistry Apprenticeship: Applied Chemical Sciences Apprenticeship

by Lucy Bell-Young

An applied chemical sciences apprenticeship is a great way to earn a BSc degree, become a chartered scientist, and progress your career. As a higher level apprenticeship programme, it can open the door to many rewarding careers, and is best suited to those who want to earn while they learn. 

Overview – Earn While You Learn

An applied chemical sciences apprenticeship is equivalent to a foundation degree program and above. Not everyone has the option to pursue a degree as a full time student. So, if you need to work while you’re pursuing your bachelor’s degree, this is a great opportunity, especially if you’re already working in the chemical industry, pharmaceutical industry, or other industries that require applied chemical sciences.

Whether you stopped pursuing a university degree as a full-time student, or you’re currently unemployed and looking for some career growth, an applied chemical sciences apprenticeship is one of your best options if you’re qualified.

Once accepted, you’ll receive a salary while being trained on the job and earning academic credentials. During this apprenticeship, you’ll gain valuable experience by working alongside chemical technicians, chemists, and chemical engineers.

What You Will Learn

An applied chemical sciences apprenticeship is within the bracket of higher apprenticeships, namely levels 4, 5, 6, and 7. Its equivalent academic level is a foundation degree and above. It typically takes around three to five years to complete the programme, depending on your experience, academic qualifications, your workload, and the requirements of the company you work for.


Table showing apprenticeship levels and their equivalent qualification levels

The higher apprenticeship levels are delivered as a blended course. Most material will be in the form of direct self-learning via the university’s e-learning platform, in addition to some face-to-face teaching. Some universities like the University of Kent even offer top-up academic programmes for students who already have some of the academic credentials.

These universities offer Bachelor of Science degrees in Applied Chemical Sciences Apprenticeships, which can be finished in a shorter period of time. To offer this, many universities are collaborating with top companies in the field of applied chemical sciences, like big multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Apprenticeship programmes provide you with the flexibility to study at your own pace. Most of your time will be focused on training on the job, while at least 20% of your time will be spent studying the e-learning materials.

During your apprenticeship, you’ll usually cover a wide range of subjects in chemistry, mathematics, and other sciences like physics and computer science. Most universities and colleges prescribe the following course syllabus of core subjects for BSci Applied Chemistry:

  • Fundamentals of Inorganic Chemistry
  • Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Concepts of Chemistry
  • Principles of Chemical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Structures and Reactivity in Organic Chemistry
  • Organic Structure Mechanism and Synthesis
  • Foundation of Physical Chemistry
  • Chemistry for Biologists
  • Industrial Chemical Calculations
  • Analytical Techniques in Chemical Analysis
  • Industrial Chemistry
  • Structure and Spectroscopy
  • Polymer Chemistry
  • Introduction to Drug Design

Years 1 & 2

From the first to the fourth semesters, you’ll study the basics, which include analytical, inorganic, organic, and physical chemistry, as well as biochemistry.

Year 3

From the fifth to the eighth semester, you’ll study the core subjects of your specialisation, as well as a choice of elective subjects like Instrumental Analysis and Chemometrics, or Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

At minimum, you can finish the applied chemical sciences apprenticeship course in three years if you’re highly focused and comply with all the requirements. However, you can also take it more slowly, in which case it would take around five years. 

Usually, companies allow apprentices to only work 37 hours per week. This means you usually spend four days a week doing on-the-job training, and one day a week doing academic studies.

Female scientific researcher or doctor working in laboratory
Chemical analysis is just one of the many things you’ll learn during an applied chemical sciences apprenticeship

Course Entry Requirements

An applied chemical sciences apprenticeship is commonly offered to existing employees, but it can also be offered on a case-to-case basis to those who don’t yet have work experience in chemistry. The basic entry requirements for applied chemical sciences apprenticeships are the following:

  • Eligibility to work in the United Kingdom
  • 80 points, including DD at GCSE for Chemistry and one other science subject
  • Vocational science-based A Level (double award 12 units) and a pass in an approved English Language qualification

Career Options When You’ve Completed Your Apprenticeship

After you complete your apprenticeship in applied chemical sciences, also known as applied chemistry, you’ll get a BSc (Hons) degree. You can also become RSciTech registered, but that’s a lower qualification. You’ll also be able to register as a Chartered Scientist (CSci) with the Science Council.

Many career options will be available to you after the completion of this apprenticeship. For example, you can work as an analytical chemist or a laboratory scientist for various companies and institutions. The typical starting salary of an analytical chemist in the United Kingdom is  £18,000. This can go as high as £50,000 as you gain more seniority and higher education, particularly if you decide to undertake a PhD.

As an applied chemist, your main role will be to develop new commercially viable products. This will place you in the R&D department, where you’ll analyse, test, and synthesise substances or materials that will have industrial applications.

Typically, apprentices are directly hired as regular employees by the companies that trained them. However, if after graduation you choose to pursue a career elsewhere, here are some of the common employment areas that are open to you:

  • Agriculture Industry
  • Chemical Industry
  • Educational Institutes
  • Chemical Manufacturing Companies
  • Environmental Management and Conservation
  • Geological Survey Departments
  • Heavy Chemical Industries
  • Manufacturing and Processing Firms
  • Industrial Laboratories
  • Medical Research
  • Oil Industry
  • Medical Laboratories
  • Space Research Institutes
  • Pharmaceutical Companies
  • Waste-water Plants

How to Apply

If you’re already employed and are interested in completing an applied chemical sciences apprenticeship, see if the company you work for is offering apprenticeship grants for career progression. 

If you’re not yet employed, or are employed in an unrelated field, you can look for a university that has industrial partners offering apprenticeship courses in applied chemical sciences. Just make sure that you possess the right prerequisites before applying.


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