When most people think about science jobs, they think about someone trapped in a windowless lab, running endless experiments involving rats, beakers, and bunsen burners. This couldn't be further from the truth. Today's scientists work in pharmaceutical companies, with geological surveys, on long-haul sailing ships. Most astronauts must have a science background. Automobiles and nuclear power plants are designed by the same scientists working on futuristic green power technologies. There has never been a better time for young people to examine the field of science as a future career path.
Science Preparatory Courses to Take
In high school, the most important basic courses to focus on aren't science - rather, math is the foundation of every science field. Don't just take every math course you can; master them. Develop a relationship with your teacher, and find out what you can do to learn more on your own. While some career paths only need knowledge on paper, in science it is critical that you really understand the math, all the way to the bottom. In addition, take courses in computer science at every level, from basic programming to advanced database applications. Your most critical tool as a scientist will be the computer.
Go ahead and take a variety of science courses, whether you have decided which field to go into or not. All the science fields are related, and you'll be surprised at how many places biological sciences intersect with geological ones, or at how important physics can be to understand how your cells function.
Do not overlook your other subjects. Scientists write a lot, so English is important. Because science is a very creative field, a wide base of knowledge in the humanities - history, art, music, literature - will always help expand your possibilities.
In any of the science careers, you'll be able to find something to do that matches your activity level. Like to climb mountains and go caving? Geology, biology, and meteorology all need field scientists who love activity. Prefer to sit in a lab and crunch numbers? Every science field needs lab rats.
Here are a few ideas:
Artifact dating technician: this person can take a pottery shard and, using a variety of techniques from carbon dating to tree ring analysis to spectrography, determine when it was made and sometimes when it was discarded.
Automobile designer: this career uses the science fields of engineering, aerodynamics, physics, and mechanics to create vehicles to address many different needs, from construction to racing.
Volcanologist: One of the most demanding scientific fields, volcanologists place and read monitors to gauge volcanic activity. Their goals may be prediction, harnessing volcanic energy, or simply studying the causes and effects of volcanoes.
Geneticist: Genetics is one of the most wide-ranging and rapidly-growing fields of science careers today, with opportunities in cloning animals, curing cancer and other genetic diseases, creating bacteria that do things like eat oil slicks, or trace the history of human migration. In almost every field of human knowledge today, you'll find geneticists.
Wages in Science Fields
You'll find that your income will vary widely, and will depend heavily on the level of your education, the need for your chosen field, and where you want to work. Starting salaries for most technicians, who typically have a bachelor's degree, are in the mid-$30K range. Starting salaries for more educated scientists, even with postdoctorate degrees, aren't much higher. But there's a difference.
With more education, while you may start out making the same amount of money, you have much more potential for the very high-paying positions later. Technicians don't become science directors. People with PhDs do. In addition, good high-paying job for people with a PhD in science are easier to find in the government and in research institutions.
You can write your own ticket in the science fields if you just turn out consistently creative research in lucrative industries. For instance, if you're doing good, progressing research into oil-eating bacteria with self-destruct coding, you can make tons of money in oil clean up industries, which work not only with ocean oil spills but also with tens of thousands of environmentally problematic locations throughout the world, from old gas stations to places in East Asia contaminated with years of improperly disposed of petrochemicals.
Where To Work In Science Fields
The government and the military are two of the most significant employers of scientists today, but you can also find good positions for pure research work in many of the top universities throughout the world; it all depends on how good you are. In addition, most technology companies are always looking for good scientists. Pharmaceutical companies hire biologists and physicists as well as doctors.
For the best opportunities, start networking early. Scientists don't find jobs in the local paper. They find them through professional organizations and word-of-mouth. Participating in science organizations, doing what you can (without being taken advantage of) to help out your professors and teachers, and working to meet people in science industries is the best way to find great science jobs in the future.