Research and development manager

R&D manager, industrial scientist

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Research and development (R&D) managers lead teams of scientists and engineers to create new products and improve existing ones.

Salary range: £25,000 to £60,000

How to become a research and development manager

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course


You’ll need a degree or postgraduate qualification to become a research and development manager. The subject you take will depend on which research area you want to work in but common examples include:

  • engineering
  • science
  • medicine
  • healthcare
  • mathematics

You’ll also need several years’ relevant experience in industry, with an understanding of research methods, data analysis and development processes.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More information

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You’ll usually be a member of a professional body relevant to your particular line of work.

Further information

You can get an overview of research and development across different industries from UK Research and Innovation.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to read English
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • maths knowledge
  • analytical thinking skills
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include: 

  • recruiting staff
  • assessing staff performance
  • coordinating the team’s work
  • analysing data and presenting results
  • making sure work meets safety standards and other relevant legislation
  • managing budgets
  • reporting to senior managers

Working environment

You could work at a university, in a laboratory or in a factory.

Career path and progression

With experience in industry, you could become a senior project manager or research director.

In higher education, you could become a senior research fellow or professor.

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