If you’re passionate about science, you may be wondering what career you can pursue with it. Passion is critical for finding meaning in your work, so if your passion is science, give yourself the freedom to go after it.
According to the National Science Board, as of 2016, 45% of all undergraduate freshmen declared they planned on pursuing a science and engineering degree, just 11% of which was engineering. 16% of that was biological and agricultural sciences, 3% was physical sciences, and 10% was social and behavioral sciences.
Those in the field of science make massive contributions to society, including strategies to mitigate climate change, studying animals to prevent extinction, and working on crime scenes to catch killers.
These careers include life sciences, physical sciences, health professions, behavioral and social sciences, and health technology careers.
Aerospace engineers are responsible for designing satellites, missiles, spacecraft, and aircraft. They typically work in research and development, manufacturing, analysis and design, or the federal government.
Aerospace engineering careers are predicted to grow 3% across the next decade, which is about average. To become an aerospace engineer, you must complete an undergraduate degree in aerospace engineering or another science or engineering field similar to that.
The majority of aerospace engineers (36%) work in product and parts manufacturing, where 16% work with the federal government and 15% are in engineering services.
- Inspect damaged products to pinpoint the underlying cause of issues.
- Figure out if proposed projects are feasible, both financially and practically.
- Coordinate and oversee the manufacture, design, and testing of aerospace products and aircraft.
- Evaluate quality standards to ensure projects meet them adequately.
An atmospheric scientist studies our planet’s atmosphere. These scientists study weather and make predictions, look at regional weather patterns to make general climate predictions, and predict the effects of El Niño.
Atmospheric scientists look to past data to build their predictions, where meteorologists study current patterns. Atmospheric scientists consider climatology, physics, chemistry, and the dynamics of weather systems.
Demand between 2014 to 2024 for atmospheric scientists is expected to increase 9% or more, far higher than average career growth.
Responsibilities vary considerably depending on one’s exact role. Some duties include:
- Studying physical interactions at the atmospheric level.
- Studying climate and gases, clouds, and UV radiation.
- Predicting climate trends based on historical and current data.
- Advising policymakers on how atmospheric science can impact agriculture, transportation, society, or economics on an international or national level.
- Analyze data regarding the atmosphere (known as meteorological data).
- Warn civilians of severe weather conditions when they arise.
Biochemists study the chemical processes and characteristics associated with living organisms. As an undergrad, future biochemists typically study chemistry, biology, engineering, or physics, and many earn a Ph.D.
Biochemists study lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates to understand how they impact organisms. Biochemists apply this to study biological molecules’ properties, help cells produce new products, find uses for biomolecules, and more.
- Work in chemistry labs.
- Work in the field to study living organisms.
- Work with computers to create models.
- Teach in addition to research.
- Find uses for biomolecules.
- Find substitutes for a typical biomolecule.
- Study properties of biological molecules.
Conservationists manage natural habitats. Regulators employ them to ensure those parties take proper care of habitats and protect them. Conservationists find sustainable ways to work the land that don’t harm the environment. They may also work alongside ranchers and farmers to control erosion and improve the land.
Undergraduate conservationists typically pursue degrees in biology, environmental science, agronomy, forestry, or agricultural science. It’s also possible to earn a master’s or Ph.D.
Conservationists need excellent analytical, problem-solving, verbal communication, decision-making, and critical thinking skills.
These are dependent on the environment the conservationist works on. They can include:
- Going out in the field to count species.
- Design policy or resource allocations.
- Survey or tally landscapes, wildlife, or other parts of nature.
- Educate through guided tours.
- Give presentations to large institutions or government bodies.
- Decide how best to maintain an area’s natural health.
Environmental scientists create solutions to protect the environment and eliminate or decrease hazards. They also identify said hazards that may be harming the ecosystem.
Earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental science is typically enough for an entry-level position, though you can also get a degree in chemistry, physics, biology, or engineering. To advance, a master’s is needed.
Environmental scientists require strong self-discipline, critical thinking, communication, writing, and analytical skills.
Employment for environmental scientists is forecasted to grow at 11% through 2026, far faster than other jobs.
Typically, an environmental scientist:
- Writes reports that summarize findings for decision-makers.
- Develops plans for fixing, controlling, or even preventing problems with the environment.
- Conducts fieldwork to understand damage to groundwater, soil, sediment, or other contamination.
- Guides the public, businesses, and the government on preventing or lessening environmental problems.
Forensic scientists use their skills to solve crimes. Skills include chemistry, physics, and biology.
To become a forensic scientist, a person needs to pass a background check. They must also be emotionally strong, as these scientists often study disturbing crime scenes and see graphic images of violence.
Additionally, forensic scientists must possess excellent analytical skills and be prepared to serve as expert witnesses.
Many jobs in the field require master’s degrees, where others need a Ph.D. Forensic scientist roles are growing by 14% through 2019, so the outlook is bright.
Forensic scientists’ duties vary by specialty. Here are some responsibilities these specialties may perform:
- Being a witness in court
- Analyzing forensic evidence
- Attending crime scenes where necessary
- Helping other scientists in the field or lab
Hydrologists study circulation, distribution, and physical properties that impact the earth’s surface and underground waters. They look for groundwater and assist other scientists in preserving the environment.
All hydrologists need a bachelor’s degree, typically in hydrology, geoscience, engineering with a concentration in hydrology, or environmental science. Master’s and even Ph.Ds may be required to advance in the field.
Most entry-level hydrologists begin as technicians or research assistants, eventually progressing to a senior research position, project leader, or program manager.
Hydrologists must possess excellent writing, analytical, time management, verbal, computer, and interpersonal skills.
- Process hydrological, snow, and meteorological data
- Make oral presentations
- Prepare oral reports
- Conduct stormwater and watershed studies
- Monitor data on surface water or groundwater to support programs and projects
- Determine levels of contamination in groundwater
These scientists study various aquatic animals, from plankton to whales. Many choose a specialty, whether fishery biology, marine mammalogy, marine ecology, invertebrate zoology, ichthyology, or something else.
Most marine biologists begin with an undergraduate degree in animal science, biology, or zoology before pursuing a Master’s or Doctorate in the field. When choosing an advanced degree program, you’ll want to find one that allows you to study your specialty field.
Students often take internships to get practical experience in marine biology. Hands-on research and biological training internships are ideal.
Marine biologists must be adept in critical and analytical thinking, observational skills, teamwork, and have physical and emotional stamina.
Marine biologists can work in academia, research, or the private sector, and duties vary widely. Here are some examples:
- Collect data and specimens
- Report findings
- Manage or observe populations
- Determine human impact on animals and the ecosystem
- Study certain species
Using clinical trials and other investigative methods, medical scientists perform research to improve human health.
These scientists come up with hypotheses and experiments with little supervision, leading teams of technicians or students. These scientists may study health problems or the causes of certain diseases.
As a medical scientist, you may work in the private sector or in academia. Many obtain their Ph.D., typically in biology or some form of life science. Some students even get their medical degree alongside a Ph.D.
- Standardize drugs, including doses, potency, and methods for mass manufacturing and distribution
- Design and conduct studies that look at methods to prevent and treat human diseases
- Write grant proposals and acquire funding from the government or private sources
- Analyze medical samples and data to determine treatment or causes of pathogens, chronic diseases, and toxicity.
Molecular biologists study the functions and structures of cells on a molecular level. These scientists are curious, introspective, investigative, intuitive, and creative. They typically work in labs or universities, and it’s unusual for them to work in the private sector.
Molecular biologists study and understand how molecules and cells communicate, organize, and operate. They then report these findings to publications. Their experiments typically cover cloning, DNA sequencing, RNA functioning, and more.
This role’s demand is projected to grow 19% in the next ten years, far quicker than the average job.
- Manufacture materials for research
- Use samples via aseptic techniques
- Analyze biological specimens
- Design DNA constructs
- Use cloning techniques
- Maintain a safe lab environment
- Prepare solutions, reagents, stains, and culture media
- Review journal articles and literature to keep up-to-date with advances in the field
Zoologists study animals and their behaviors, and many specialize in a species or a group of species. These animals can be wild or captive. Zoologists study animals’ interactions with the ecosystem, including behaviors, impacts humans have on them, physical characteristics, and diets.
Zoologists utilize GPS data and geographic information systems (GIS) to track animals and map their habitats. These scientists may also use modeling software to determine the future impact of habitat loss due to climate change.
Zoologists often work at wildlife centers, in zoos, aquariums, or wildlife parks. They can also work for conservation groups to rehabilitate and release animals.
These scientists work both in labs and offices. As of 2021, the majority, 34%, were employed by the state government, where 24% were employed with the federal government.
- Advocate for wildlife and ecosystems
- Collect and prepare specimens for studying
- Publish scientific papers on their findings
- Analyze the lifecycle of animals
- Collect samples and observe animals in the field, lab, and protected environments
- Consult on habitat remediation and mitigation efforts
- Monitor changes or trends in wildlife populations
- Provide expertise on wildlife survey design
- Handle wildlife management plans
This list is scratching the surface of the many careers possible for science-lovers.
Whether you’re interested in medicine, water patterns, weather, or animals, there’s a scientific career for you. Most of these careers require an advanced degree of some form, and all mean getting a bachelor’s, usually in life science, physical science, or engineering.
These positions are growing into the future, so if any of these caught your attention, the outlook is promising.