Sam – Advanced Apprentice: Junior Scientist New

Sam_NPLApprenticeSam is an advanced apprentice at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), working as a junior scientist whilst earning his NVQ and BTEC qualifications.

What attracted you to the apprenticeship?

I came to NPL  for work experience in July 2012 and really enjoyed my week here. I have also had a love for science throughout my entire school life, therefore I knew that I wanted to go into a scientific line of work and NPL seemed the right place to start this.

What does your typical day involve?

On a normal day I would take data in the morning and do data analysis after lunch in the afternoon, although no day is ever the same so there is always something different, whether it be customer probe calibration using a water-bath or using dry block calibrators to calibrate Platinum Resistance Thermometers, or even calibrating NPL’s own equipment. Study days are different from normal days as we get told what we are doing and work towards that objective the entire day; sometimes we will do powerpoints and other types of presentations to the other apprentices to fill our NVQ and BTEC criteria at the same time.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Knowing that what I have done has been done for a reason and will actually go into practice, rather than be of no use to anybody.

What do your friends and family think about your job?

My family particularly thinks it’s a good thing to do to go straight into work as you get experience, which can be worth more than qualifications as it means that you are competent in practice.

Tell us more about your environment in terms of work-life balance

I feel as if my work-life balance is good as I have time after work to go out and see my friends or spend time with family; this is especially good at the weekend as well. Also I don’t have to spend a large amount of time revising, I have to take time out to do coursework but not revision which is also quite good as coursework is not as time consuming.

What route did you take to your role?

I came to NPL straight after doing my GCSEs.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of following your path?

An apprenticeship is a fantastic opportunity and it does not restrict your options, from BTECs you can get UCAS points to go towards university or there is obviously a possibility of gaining a job at the place you are doing an apprenticeship in.

Where do you see your career going in the future?

I hope that a job at NPL would be available, if possible to study at university and gain a degree so I can work here on the life changing science that they conduct on a daily basis.

What is the starting salary for someone in your field, and how much can this be expected to rise?

My group of apprentices started on £100 a week, although this was raised by 50% after 6 months and we are now waiting to see what happens in the future.

What kind of hobbies or extracurricular activities do you do to relax?

Often I go to the gym for personal fitness. I also attend the air cadets as a cadet Sergeant, so I teach and train younger and less experienced cadets to become the best that they can be.

Have there been any embarrassing moments?

I haven’t had any particularly embarrassing moments before, but I did walk into a door once because I thought it was one of the ones that goes both ways… needless to say that it wasn’t.


Thanks to Sam and the NPL for providing this case study. If this sounds like the path for you, find out more about Advanced Apprenticeships with NPL here