Surprising and Helpful Information
Detailed info from people on the job
The field of science offers ideal career options for those interested in understanding how things work in our world. Science has an impact on everyone, from the cars we drive and the food we eat, to the electronics in our homes and the weather outside. Scientists are individuals with a higher knowledge of one or more of the sciences, such as in natural sciences, the study of the natural world, or in social sciences, the study of human behavior and society. By using a variety of methods to research, scientists work to answer a question or problem and use that information to benefit our society. For example, a medical scientist may work to develop new antibiotics and better our health, while an ecologist may focus on understanding and proposing ways to reduce pollution on our planet.
Science careers tend to attract individuals who are intellectual and have strong mathematical skills. In addition, scientists should have a passionate desire to learn new information and apply that knowledge to benefit our world. Creativity is an important skill for scientists to possess in order to solve problems, along with being open-minded and patient, as the research process may be slow at times. Other important skills include the ability to work independently, and have strong oral and written communication skills.
Educational requirements may vary, but most scientists are highly educated with entry-level jobs requiring at least a bachelorís degree in their respective science field, such as biology or chemistry. Most independent research jobs, especially academic research positions, require a masterís degree or Ph.D. Students have a wide array of program options as many colleges and universities offer bachelorís, masterís, and doctoral degree programs in a variety of disciplines.
A wide variety of options exist in the field of science, with most individuals driven by a passion for their chosen field. The following are a few examples of science career choices:
- Biochemists are scientists who study the chemistry of living things, at the molecular level and by analyzing chemical combinations and their reactions to life. Jobs differ widely, with some biochemists working in medicine to develop new drugs, for example, while others may focus on nutrition and analyzing food products. Many biochemists research and teach at colleges and universities, while others work for private companies, non-profits, or government agencies.
- Ecologists study the relationships between living organisms and their environments. Generally specializing in a certain area such as marine biology or zoology, for example, ecologists investigate effects to organisms such as population, pollution, rainfall, and temperature changes. Field research and work in laboratories are typical for ecologists, with others working for colleges and universities, government agencies, and environmental consulting firms.
- Medical scientists study disease processes with the goal of improving human health. Through research, medical scientists try to advance their knowledge of how to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases. Quite often, part of the research includes clinical trials with patients. In addition, medical scientists may also be involved with drug development, technical writing, clinical investigation, and regulatory evaluation, among other areas.
- Social scientists study all characteristics of society, including historical events as well as human relationships and behaviors. By researching and examining data, they learn insights into the actions and behaviors of humans as well as their connection with the environment. Some of the specialties in this field include anthropology, archaeology, geography, history, and sociology. In addition to research, many social scientists teach at colleges and universities.
What People Love and Hate about Science Careers
Here is a selection from Inside Career Info's Career Reports of what people love and hate about their science jobs:
- "a high degree of independence and a flexible work schedule."
- "knowing that I'm ensuring that sick patients will have safe and effective medicine. I take pride in knowing that my company and its patients depend on my skills to understand the molecules in our medicine."
- "every day is not the same. Some days I'm out in the lab more, helping with a new project, while other days I'm at my computer, analyzing data or looking at literature."
- "the opportunities to travel and work in interesting places, and work with interesting people on projects that I find fascinating."
- "knowing that the work you do is helping to develop drugs that can cure diseases in the future is very rewarding. These drugs could cure diseases or medical conditions that currently have no known treatments."
- "it's a lot of work and can be very stressful. I have a lot of responsibilities, and I frequently work long hours and on weekends."
- "I must balance my scientific curiosity and provide quick answers. While we want safe and effective medicine, our patients need it as soon as possible."
- "inclement weather, the risk of injury if you do not work safely around the machinery, pumps, etc., and sometimes, though rarely, the hours. Operators are called in at all hours if there is a malfunction in the system."
- "very low pay for graduate research assistants (although, getting paid to go to graduate school isn't a bad deal) and the (often unwritten) expectation that you will work brutally long hours."
- "the politics of obtaining grant funding. It's a challenge trying to work with different personalities and make them see what I envision."