1. What is a professional body?
A professional association, institute or society is an organisation created by a Royal Charter or memorandum of Association to support a specific profession. Members are invited to join a grade of membership commensurate with their qualifications and standing within the profession. Its role is to support members and promote professional standards.
2. Why do I have to be a member of a professional body?
The Science Council licenses its member organisations to admit their individual members to the register through a process of peer assessment.
The Science Council has to ensure that everyone on their registers remains in good standing within the profession. As it has no direct contact with registrants, it relies on the professional bodies to fulfil this requirement. Each of the licensed professional bodies has a Code of Conduct and disciplinary procedures that have satisfied the Science Council and these are used to maintain the standards for each Professional Register.
3. What is the Science Council?
The Science Council is a representative membership organisation of learned societies and professional bodies across science and its applications, focusing on the education, skills and professionalism of the science community. There are, currently, 40 members including BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), Institute of Physics (IOP), Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC), and, of course, the IST.
It aims to become the leading UK voice on the skills and professionalism of scientists, having successfully raised the profile of professional scientists and increased awareness of the valuable contribution made by professional bodies and learned societies to UK science and works with member bodies, policy makers and opinion formers, and employers through advocacy and support for the profession of scientist, and the application of science for society and the economy.
4. What will registration cost?
There are two cost elements associated with Professional Registration – 1) IST membership subscription and 2) Professional Registration fee.
1) All those applying for and renewing CSci, RSci and RSciTech registrations must be members of the Licenced Body via which they are being registered and the annual costs of IST membership is as follows:
- Member (MIScT) – £54
- Fellow (FIScT) – £68
IST membership subscriptions are renewable annually.
2) Professional Registration costs are as follows
- CSci – £55 for the initial application fee (which is non-refundable), £50 for annual renewal of registration (renewals falling on the anniversary of the CSci award)
- RSci/RSciTech – £30/£25 for the initial application fee (which is non-refundable), £25/£20 for annual renewal of registration (renewals falling on the anniversary of the RSci/RSciTech award)
** Please note that Science Council professional registration fees and IST membership subscriptions of employees are eligible for UK tax relief, under Section 344 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003. Claims need to be made by members individually directly via HMRC
5. Why do I have to describe how I do my job when I already have a degree?
The requirements for each Register are not just about qualifications. Learning about a subject is important but correctly putting knowledge and skills into practice is what makes a competent practitioner. An academic qualification demonstrates your achievement whereas professional registration recognises your career development and on-the-job learning alongside any formal qualifications. The people who assess the applications for registration have to build up a picture of your skills and how you apply them in your normal working life.
6. What are the competencies that I have to possess?
Updated information to be added shortly
7. Is registration recognised in other countries?
European Directive 2005/36/EC on the recognition of professional qualifications works on the basic principle that an individual fully qualified to practice a regulated profession in one member state should be treated, in principle, as qualified to practice that same profession in another Member State. In August 2007, Chartered Scientist was accepted for the purposes of the directive as a regulated profession, with the Science Council appointed as the Competent Authority. Acceptance of the new RSci and RSciTech followed after the pilot project had been evaluated. A Licensed body is able to register overseas members, provided that they can satisfy the criteria for registration.
8. What is the difference between RSciTech, RSci and CSci?
RSciTech provides recognition for those working in technical roles. Candidates will typically be qualified to at least QCF level 3 and will be applying this knowledge to their roles.
RSci provides recognition for those working in scientific and higher technical roles and candidates will typically be qualified to at least QCF level 5.
CSci is appropriate for staff in senior scientific and leadership roles – candidates will typically (but not exclusively) be qualified to at least FHEQ level 7 and applying their knowledge in their roles. CSci status is a well established benchmark across the professions
9. How can I reach the next level?
If your job changes, or if you are appointed to a new job, and you are able to demonstrate competencies at the higher level, you can apply to join the appropriate Register. Your application should include information about other changes, e.g. additional qualifications obtained, if you haven’t already notified the IST when you submit your annual PPD record.
10. I applied for RSci but have only been offered RSciTech, which I don’t think is right. Can I appeal?
Yes. The IST has an Appeals Procedure.
11. After I’ve sent off my application, how long does the process take?
When all the required information has been received, The IST will endeavour to inform you within 4-6 weeks of receiving your application as to the decision of the assessment, but in exceptional cases this may take up to 3 months.
12. Who assesses my competencies report?
Your competencies report is assessed by at least two other people who are already on the Register that you have applied for and who have experience in the area in which you work. If they find an area that does not meet the required standard, they will indicate where extra information is required
13. Can I find out if someone is on the Registers?
Yes, go to the Science Council’s Registers on their website
14. Can I become an assessor?
Yes, if you have the enthusiasm, time and expertise. Training is provided. Contact the Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org
15. I don’t have a science/technical qualification at the right level. Can I still become registered?
The exemplifying educational requirement is a science/technical qualification at QCF level 3 for RSciTech and QCF level 5 for RSci and FHEQ level 7 for CSci. Candidates may also meet these requirements by a combination of work-based learning, other qualifications or breadth and depth of experience. Each case is looked at individually.
16. What is the IST’s PPD?
The IST’s Professional and Personal Development scheme (PPD) is the way in which members of the IST record all the activities that contribute towards their professional development. It is accessible to all members, irrespective of grade, but is a specific requirement for Registered members and the IST’s Registered Practitioners.
17. What is the IST’s CPD Award?
It is a structured programme during which candidates are required to complete learning logs, to demonstrate work-based learning, knowledge and experience, which are assessed by the IST. The IST’s CPD award can be used to demonstrate CPD activity for the RSci, RSciTech and Registered Practitioner schemes and fulfil associated registration scheme competencies. The IST’s CPD award is not a formal qualification but it does allow the individual to demonstrate work-based experience and learning. There is a fee (discounted for IST members).
18. What is the difference between membership and registration?
Membership of the IST is open to anybody working in or interested in science and technology. (There are different grades of membership reflecting qualifications and seniority in the workplace.)
Professional Registration is a separate process which enables suitably qualified and experienced members to be admitted to either the Science Council’s registers of competent practitioners or to the IST’s register.
19. Why do I have to pay more for registration on top of my membership fees?
The membership fee covers the costs of providing members with the services of a professional body. The Registration fee includes a levy that is paid to the Science Council plus the IST’s costs which include the licence fee paid to the Science Council and administration associated with members’ applications and renewals.
20. How can I get help filling in the forms?
Phone or e-mail the IST office (0114 276 3197, email@example.com ). Describe your problem and someone will get in touch with you – by phone or e-mail (your choice).
21. Why should I register?
The Registers for CSci, RSci and RSciTech are maintained by the Science Council which is a highly regarded organisation. Admission to a register provides external confirmation that you are a competent, practising professional within your chosen career.
22. How long does it take to fill in the forms?
There is no denying that the Competences Report can take some time to complete. The purpose of this report is to enable the IST to get a picture of the type of work that you do, including your responsibilities, the underpinning knowledge that you use and your interactions with others. This information is mapped to the standards set by the Science Council. If the IST feels that your report doesn’t quite reach these standards, you will be notified of the area/s where clarification is required and given the opportunity to amend your report. Therefore, it is worthwhile spending time on the Competences Report and ‘getting it right first time’.
23. What sort of thing can I include for CPD/PPD?
In addition to courses and formal qualification programmes, you can include other activities and aspects of your normal working life that enhance your professional confidence and competence. Examples include:
- Training colleagues
- Making presentations in-house and/or at external events
- Reading technical papers and journals
- Researching new techniques and experimental methods
- Devising and implementing improvements to existing practices
- Mentoring junior colleagues
- Developing new procedures
If you are working for a qualification, you could select and evaluate each specific aspect that is contributing to your development and claim PPD points for each one.
More information is available in our Learning Activities – A PPD Guide
24. I am a technician so am I eligible to apply for RSci and CSci?
Yes absolutely, technicians are vital to science development, research and teaching. Completing RSci and CSci allows you to demonstrate further skills and knowledge and gives you as a technician, the recognition you deserve.
25. I have changed my position in the last 5 years. Am I able to take examples from a prior job in addition to my current one?
Yes you are but make sure you contact the registration officer to make provision for a second reference.
26. My current job is probably not so compatible with CSci as my previous position, which was more demanding and more in line with CSci competencies. What should I do??
Providing your previous more demanding position falls within the last 5 years, then as explained, it is permissible to provide 2 references and mix and match competency examples from your current position with a previous more demanding position. I would suggest however that whilst you might want to take examples from a prior position it is also circumspect to include other examples where necessary from your current job
27. Is experience in an unpaid position valid for competency answers?
In short yes. It is not about whether work is paid or unpaid. It is about whether you accrue experiences in a Professional environment and your responsibilities in that environment
28. Can I apply for a CSci if I do not hold a managerial position within my organisation?
It is not about your grading or job title it is about the actual responsibilities you discharge in your role. It is not uncommon for example for experienced personnel to be given responsibilities above their grading, e.g. fiscal responsibilities or managerial responsibilities. It is about what you personally do, not what your grading or job description might imply.
29. I do not manage teams in any capacity so am I eligible for CSci grading if I meet the other criterion?
It is not uncommon for experienced technicians to project supervise: This is classed as “project supervision “or “bench management” and that is in line with CSci expectations, in addition to bona fide team management (at a higher grade). To extend this description, “supervision” involves managing experiments in terms of training, data analysis and design of follow on experiments; as opposed to simple “training” and then leaving the trainee to perform experiments, decipher data and design follow on experiments. This nascent training is commensurate with RSci, whereas after care plus training is supervision and a managerial responsibility and thus conducive to CSci grading, whether you have the title “Manager’ in your job or not.
30. I am a higher grade senior technical manager who is responsible for lab based technicians but not based in the lab myself and thus not participating in personal bench work. Accordingly, how can I submit answers for competency A, namely “The application of knowledge and understanding to novel situations?
You do not need to have personal bench work to apply knowledge and understanding in a lab setting. Much else besides underpins lab function, including equipment infrastructure. In addition, Application of knowledge and understanding does not mean exclusively wet based project science. That generic statement could equally apply to working with companies, PIs and other technicians to procure for example new platforms to update a certain type of scientific analysis or working for example with estates to restructure a lab or new buildings or for example as a teaching technician in a managerial position, helping to re design practical classes.
31. I am teaching technician and not therefore engaged in research. Do I have material that can be used to populate the competency form?
In short yes. The competencies are not geared towards research but rather generic: Setting up classes, interacting with students, troubleshooting practical problems and redesigning classes to improve performance are just a few examples of teaching job attributes that could be used to answer multiple competencies.