Natural Science Manager: Career Information & Requirements

Should I Become a Natural Science Manager?

Natural science managers oversee human resources procedures, such as hiring and training personnel, and coordinate the activities of scientists and technical staff. They manage personnel and resources to ensure efficient completion of research and other projects. These managers serve as a liaison between top executives and the scientists and researchers involved in various projects.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Required level of education will vary by position, but range from a bachelor's degree to a graduate degree in pertinent fields of study.
Degree Field Scientific field or a related area, such as engineering; business administration may also be applicable
Experience Five or more years of related experience
Key Skills Written and verbal communication, critical-thinking, time-management, leadership and problem-solving skills are crucial. Computer programs including those relating to business analysis, data-mining, graphical imaging and spreadsheet rendering are often used. Experience with industry-specific tools, such as plotter printers and LCD video projectors may also be helpful.
Median Salary (2014) $120,050 for all natural science managers

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a College Degree

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that natural science managers may hold an undergraduate or graduate degree in one of several natural science fields. They may earn degrees in fields like physics, biology and chemistry or study a related area, such as engineering. Natural science managers can also learn necessary business management, marketing, human resources and communication skills in a Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. Some MBA programs may include concentrations or specializations in a specific discipline, including scientific fields, which can provide prospective natural science managers with the unique skills needed to manage technical and research operations with solid business sense.

Success Tip:

  • Develop solid time-management skills in college. Time-management skills are essential for natural science managers. They must often manage projects according to strict deadlines, which may be stressful for those unequipped with the necessary skills. They have a multitude of responsibilities and must have the organizational skills to prioritize and manage them. While in college, students gain insight into the organizational systems and time-management techniques that work best for them and utilize them later in their career.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Most natural science managers begin their careers as scientists with a strong technical background in their chosen field, which allows them to understand common processes and terminology. These scientists are often promoted to management roles once they have gained experience and demonstrated leadership abilities. They must be able to explain the research projects and laboratory activities to top management, executives, customers, investors and other non-technical personnel. It may be necessary to accrue five years of experience or more in order to secure a position as a natural science manager.

Success Tip:

  • Become familiar with the common computer programs. Natural science managers use many different computer programs, including data-mining and analytic software. They should gain strong hands-on experience with these programs at the start of their careers so they have the necessary level of expertise as they move along their professional paths.

Step 3: Pursue Further Career Advancement

Talented and ambitious natural science managers are an essential part of many research and development projects. Once you have established yourself as a successful administrator of teams working in this field, you may find that obtaining an additional master's or doctoral degree in a relevant science or business discipline helps you to stand out as an especially knowledgeable leader.

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