How to Become A biomedical scientist South Africa

Biomedical scientists use scientific research to improve human health. They design studies to test and develop new treatment plans, analyze medical data to investigate pathogens and chronic diseases, as well as develop social programs that can improve outcomes in population health.


Who does a biomedical scientist work for?

As a biomedical scientist, your responsibilities involve performing medical research, usually analyzing cultured cells or samples and conducting clinical trials to test prevention and treatment methods. Biomedical scientists work in laboratories at pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, and universities.

What does a biomedical do?

Bioengineers and biomedical engineers install, maintain, or provide technical support for biomedical equipment. Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.

What qualifications do you need to be a biomedical scientist?

What qualifications do you need to be a biomedical scientist? Typical entry requirements: You could do a degree accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science, or train through the NHS Practitioner Training Programme and complete a degree in healthcare science.


You’ll need to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to work as a biomedical scientist

To achieve this you need to complete a BSc (Hons) degree in biomedical science accredited by the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS) or approved by the HCPC. You will also need to successfully complete a period of clinical laboratory training in an IBMS-approved laboratory, where you’ll complete the IBMS Registration Training

IBMS-accredited undergraduate biomedical science degrees are offered by universities on a full-time, part-time, sandwich and integrated basis.

Integrated degrees will include a laboratory placement in an IBMS-approved laboratory, during which you’ll complete the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio. On successful completion of your degree, you will be awarded an IBMS Certificate of Competence to show you’re eligible to apply to the HCPC for registration as a biomedical scientist.

If your IBMS-accredited degree doesn’t have an integrated placement, you’ll need to arrange a laboratory placement and complete the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio either during a sandwich year or once you’ve finished your degree.

Alternatively, you can take a BSc (Hons) degree in healthcare science (life sciences) through the NHS Practitioner Training Programme (PTP), which must be accredited by the IBMS or approved by the HCPC if you want to be eligible to apply for registration as a biomedical scientist when you graduate. Completion of the IBMS Registration Training Portfolio is integral to this programme.

It’s also possible to work as a trainee biomedical scientist if you have A-levels (or equivalent) in life sciences, but only if your employer is willing to offer financial support and the time off to study for an accredited degree on a part-time basis or as part of an IBMS-accredited apprenticeship programme.

If your degree isn’t accredited by the IBMS, contact them to have your degree assessed and they’ll advise on whether or not you need additional academic education. See the IBMS website for a list of accredited degree courses.


You will need to have:

practical laboratory skills and manual dexterity

analytical skills

patience and the ability to work accurately and efficiently

the ability to prioritise tasks and meet deadlines

a willingness to accept responsibility and use common sense

flexibility and the ability to work with a range of equipment and techniques

the ability to work under pressure while maintaining standards of service

communication and teamwork skills

the ability to work alone or under instruction

attention to detail

IT skills.

Below are the steps to Become A biomedical scientist South Africa


After graduating from high school, an aspiring biomedical scientist needs to earn a bachelor’s degree. At this stage, practically any major related to the life sciences is suitable: biology, chemistry, or biomedical engineering are all possibilities.


While earning a bachelor’s degree, many aspiring biomedical scientists gain some early work and research experience. While it’s not always a degree requirement, internships and laboratory assistantships can dramatically boost one’s applied skills and one’s academic applications.


After earning their bachelor’s degree, some aspiring biomedical scientists opt to earn a master’s degree. While it’s not a requirement to practice biomedical science, a master’s degree can give graduates the opportunity to sharpen their expertise and enhance their applications for PhD or dual-degree programs.


After completing their early education, aspiring biomedical scientists can earn a doctoral degree in biomedical science. While some may opt for a dual degree program (see step 3B below), a PhD can prepare graduates for work in academia, research, and industry.


Some biomedical scientists opt to pair their PhD with a medical doctor (MD) degree. While PhD programs focus primarily on research methods (e.g., project design, data interpretation), dual-degree programs complement that research education with the clinical skills necessary to be a practicing physician.

The following institutions are highly recommended for studies in Biomedical Science:

Stellenbosch University – no specific APS.

Cape Penninsula University of Technology – APS of 38.

University of Witwatersrand (Wits) – no APS for Health Sciences however you will need to meet other requirements

Types of biomedical scientist

Biomedical scientists usually specialise in one of four areas: infection sciences, blood sciences, cell sciences or genetics and molecular pathology.

Infection sciences includes:

medical microbiology – identification of micro-organisms causing disease and their antibiotic treatment

virology – identification of viruses, associated diseases and monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines.

Blood sciences includes:

clinical chemistry – analysis of blood and body fluids to help with diagnoses, and toxicology studies

transfusion science – determination of donor/recipient blood compatibility, ensuring blood banks are sufficient

haematology – form and functions of blood and related diseases

immunology – understanding the immune system and its role in combating disease.

Cell sciences includes:

histopathology – microscopic examination of diseased tissue samples

cytology – best known for cervical smear screening, but also covers other cellular analysis.

Genetics and molecular pathology includes:

genetics – study of genes and hereditary variations in genes

molecular pathology – study and diagnosis of disease through examination of tissues and fluids at molecular level.


As a biomedical scientist you’ll need to:

perform routine and specialist analytical testing on a range of biological samples

give test results to medical staff, who use the information to diagnose and treat the patient’s illness

process patient samples in good time and make sure that turnaround times for reporting results are achieved

prioritise your workload and perform urgent analytical testing as required

identify abnormal or unexpected results and report back and follow up with requesting clinicians

maintain and run specialist lab equipment

maintain and order stocks of materials

answer telephone enquiries about test results and other general lab issues

accurately record data, write reports and share results

develop new methods of investigation and keep up to date with diagnostic innovations

support the lab’s quality management system and observe all relevant health and safety regulations

supervise, mentor and support trainee biomedical scientists and other support staff

keep your professional knowledge up to date and take responsibility for your continuing professional development (CPD).

What qualifications do you need to be a biomedical scientist?

To do a biomedical science degree, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including maths and English, plus three A levels, preferably including biology and chemistry. Certain level 3 qualifications may be acceptable such as the diploma in applied science. Check with individual course providers.

How many years does it take to become a biomedical scientist?

program takes at least five years to complete.

Are medical scientists in demand in South Africa?

There is a huge demand for medical specializations in South Africa to meet the needs of its rate the of population which is growing at a rate of 1.58% a year. Additionally, South Africa has a reduced number of medical provisions and type of equipment.

Can I become a doctor with a Biomedical Science degree?

It is possible to transfer from Biomedical Science or a similar degree to Medicine, without having to graduate and then apply for a Graduate Entry Medicine place. Transferring to Medicine after your first year of study is very competitive – but it can be done.

Is a biomedical scientist a doctor?

Biomedical scientists typically obtain a bachelor of science degree, and usually take postgraduate studies leading to a diploma, master or doctorate. Some biomedical scientists also possess a medical degree (MD, DO, PharmD, Doctor of Medical Laboratory Sciences[MLSD], MBBS, etc.) in addition to an academic degree.

Do biomedical scientists get paid well?

With experience and/or specialist knowledge, you can earn a salary of £30,401 to £37,267 (Band 6). As a senior biomedical scientist, you can expect to earn £37,570 to £50,819 (Band 7/8a). Salaries for consultant biomedical scientists, who have reached the top of their profession, are higher.

What is the highest paid doctor in South Africa?

Top 10 Highest Paying Medical Jobs In South Africa

Heart Transplant Surgeon. Monthly Salary: 152,000 ZAR.

Orthopedic Surgeon. Monthly Salary: 148,000 ZAR.

Cardiothoracic Surgeon. Monthly Salary: 139,000 ZAR.

Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon.

Invasive Cardiologist Surgeon.

Neurology Surgeon.

Pediatric Surgeon.

Trauma Surgeon.

How many years does it take to become a biomedical scientist?

A bachelor’s degree in biomedical science provides an in-depth academic study of biology, zoology, and health sciences and usually can be completed in four years. The curriculum consists of an array of courses across a number of different sciences including chemistry and medical terminology.