NHS Careers > Explore by career > Healthcare science > Careers in healthcare science > Careers in life sciences > Clinical immunology

Clinical immunology

Immunology is the study of the immune system. The immune system is how all animals, including humans, protect themselves against diseases.

You will help to treat diseases like AIDS and cancers, including leukaemia, as well as allergies, such as hay fever, by using complex and sophisticated molecular techniques.

Working in the healthcare science team in immunology, you will investigate patients' immune system and research the causes of any problems. You will work as part of a team with immunologists (medical doctors specialising in immunology), biomedical scientists and other healthcare science staff working in the life sciences.

The healthcare science team often work at the forefront of research and innovation, so that patients are continually receiving the very best healthcare. The science of clinical immunology is a fast developing area of the NHS but there are only a few dedicated NHS immunology laboratories in each NHS region.

Skills required

To work in clinical immunology you will need effective communication and team working skills. You will also need to be confident with technology and systems/processes.

If you work in a role with responsibility for resources (such as staff, budgets or equipment) you must have good leadership skills and be able to use your initiative within the remit of your job role.

More information on the skills required to work in healthcare science.

Entry routes and requirements

There are currently two entry points into clinical immunology in healthcare science. They are:

  • as a healthcare science practitioner through the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP). This means taking an accredited BSc degree in Healthcare Science. You will typically need at least 2 if not three A2/A levels including science subjects and a good spread of GCSEs at A-C grade. Alternative/equivalent qualifications may be accepted by some universities, but you are advised to check with each university before making an application.
  • As a healthcare scientist, after a relevant degree (at a minimum of a 2:1 classification or a 2:2 with appropriate postgraduate qualifications), by applying for a place on the graduate-entry NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)

It can be advantageous to have gained some experience of working in a relevant environment before applying for a place on a course or job vacancy. You should always check with the course provider/employer to see what sort of experience is preferred or required.

Training and education programmes

The education and training you will take, will depend upon the level at which you are working.

  • To enter via the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP) you will need to take a full-time (usually 3-year) accredited integrated BSc degree in Healthcare Science  (blood sciences) at university. At least 50 weeks of work based training in the NHS is included in these programmes. For the most up to date list of accredited BSc Healthcare Science degrees, please use our coursefinder or visit the NHS Networks website. Applications for full time courses are made through UCAS.
  • Graduates entering the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) will be employed in  a fixed term, salaried training post and will study towards a master’s degree qualification in clinical science (blood sciences - clinical immunology).

Programmes are often supported by the development of work based assessment tools, assessment of equivalent learning and the development of academic careers.

No matter what level you are working at, as part of your development you will be expected to do 'Continuing Professional Development' (CPD) to show that you are keeping yourself up to date with the policies and procedures in your area of work.  

Registration

Many healthcare science roles require registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). For those parts of the workforce not regulated by the HCPC, professional voluntary registers are in operation.

For registration as a Clinical Scientist individuals must hold an Academy for Healthcare Science (AHCS) Certificate of Attainment granted upon completion of the NHS Scientist Training Programme or AHCS Certificate of Equivalence. Find out more about the AHCS certificates. 

Pay

Find out more about pay for the healthcare science team. 

Further information

For further information about a career in clinical immunology please contact:

The British Society for Immunology
Vintage House
37 Albert Embankment
London
SE1 7TL

Tel: 020 3031 9800
Website: http://immunology.org/
Email: onlinecommunity@immunology.org     

The Association for Clinical Biochemistry (ACB)
130-132 Tooley Street,
London
SE1 2TU

Tel: 020 7403 8001
Website: www.acb.org.uk
Email: enquiries@acb.org.uk