Young studied medicine at Edinburgh University. He trained as a surgeon and was appointed lecturer in surgical pathology in 1881. In 1882 he was appointed honorary surgeon at the Manchester Hospital for Consumption, and he was also honorary surgeon at Salford Royal Hospital. In 1884 he was appointed professor of anatomy at Owens College Manchester, following the sudden death of Morison Watson. He remained in the chair until 1909. As professor he developed the College's anatomical museum. He helped establish the Pathological Society of Manchester with Henry Ashby and Julius Dreschfeld in 1885. Young was also president of MMS in 1910. Young played an important role in the affairs of Owens College. He was successful in improving the quality of the medical education offered by the College, and tried heard to improve clinical teaching at MRI (which had been suspicious of Owens College's role in clinical teaching) and St Mary's Hospital.