Clinical perfusionist

clinical perfusion scientist

Career outlook for clinical perfusionist

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would keep people alive when they are undergoing heart surgery or a liver transplant.

You’d use specialist equipment that ‘replaces’ the heart and lungs during the operation and keeps blood and oxygen circulating in the person’s body.

You would work alongside the surgeon and other medical staff in the operating theatre, treating adults and children.

You’d monitor and adjust the heart-lung machine that does the work of the patient’s heart and lungs while they are undergoing surgery. This means the surgeon can perform the operation without having to worry about the impact on the patient’s breathing and blood circulation.

Isolated limb perfusion is a technique you would use to help to treat cancer. You would keep blood and oxygen circulating in one limb separately from the rest of the body so very high dosages of drugs can be used in the isolated area to treat the tumour.

The equipment you’d use is highly sophisticated technical, mechanical and electronic machinery. You would set up and check it before the operation or treatment.

During the operation you would:

  • control the equipment
  • monitor readings from the heart-lung machine
  • adjust the levels of chemicals and gases in the patient’s blood
  • keep the team informed about the patient’s condition.

Operations can last many hours; you’d need to concentrate for long periods of time. You’d work very closely as a team in the operating theatre.

There’s a lot of research and innovation in this area of healthcare to improve techniques or develop new treatments to help patients.


Working conditions


You'll work a 37-hour week with evening and weekend shifts, but you may have to be on call for emergencies. Part-time work may be available.


Based in a hospital, you'll work in operating theatres, intensive care areas, recovery rooms and anaesthetic areas. You would wear a uniform and other protective clothing, such as a face mask, when in sterile working areas.


You may spend some time travelling to hospitals.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

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You must be registered with the College to practise in Great Britain and Ireland. 

Training involves practical experience in a cardiac surgery clinical perfusion unit as well as formal academic training at the University of Bristol where you will study towards an MSc in Perfusion Science (SCQF level 11). 

You will need to pass the Society’s professional accreditation examination before being awarded your MSc. 

Before starting the course you will normally be working in a clinical environment as a trainee clinical perfusion scientist. For entry you would normally need:

  • An honours degree or postgraduate degree in an appropriate scientific subject
  • Graduate Membership of the Institute of Biology, or similar professional qualifications, accompanied by relevant industrial and/or biomedical/clinical experience
  • A degree in medicine, dental surgery or veterinary science

For entry to a degree (SCQF level 10) you need National 5 qualifications and four to five Highers. Some universities ask for qualifications to be gained in one sitting. 

You can also enter a degree with a relevant Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8). With Advanced Highers, HNC or HND qualification you may enter the second or third year of some degree courses.

You should check individual entry requirements for medical, dentistry and veterinary degrees. You normally need at least five Highers at AAAAB or above, usually achieved in one sitting. Advanced Highers in science subjects are recommended. 

Some universities offer an integrated masters (SCQF level 11) combining a degree and masters courses. Entry is the same as for a degree.

Useful subjects

  • English (required)
  • Maths (required)
  • Science subjects including Biology, Chemistry and Physics (most courses will require a minimum of two sciences for entry)

You will also need

To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland.

Helpful to have

Qualifications that offer experience in the health, care or science sectors such as Health and Social Care (SCQF level 6) or Laboratory Science (SCQF level 5) may also be of value when applying to courses. 

A relevant Foundation Apprenticeship (SCQF level 6) can also be of value when applying.