Scientific Officer: Job Description, Duties, Salary and Outlook

Sep 26, 2019

Scientific officers may require significant formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and other requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

A scientific officer holds a managerial role in a company that conducts scientific research or makes scientific products. This job requires a bachelor's degree, but many in this field have completed a graduate program. In addition to independent research, scientific officers must lead teams, create policy and protocol, and collaborate with company executives.

Essential Information

Scientific officers are research scientists with advanced degrees and years of experience performing successful independent research. Scientific officers, who may also be referred to as natural science managers, generally act as liaisons between an organization's executive administrators and the scientists and technicians who make up a research division, although they may also work with collaborative organizations.

Education requirements vary, but at the bare minimum, scientific officers require bachelor's degrees in a particular scientific field. Professionals who conduct and lead research projects most likely have graduate degrees. Furthermore, it would not be uncommon for scientific officers to hold multiple degrees, including degrees in one or more of the natural sciences as well as degrees related to business management.

Required Education Bachelor's degree or higher
Other Requirements Several years' experience as a scientist, project leadership or management experience
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% for all natural science managers*
Average Salary (2018) $139,680 for all natural science managers*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Job Duties

Primary job duties include devising research proposals and programs based on the desires of the organization's executives. These professionals coordinate meetings, both within and among teams they lead, and they shoulder administrative responsibilities in personnel and budget management. Scientific officers also supervise the implementation of programs and coordinate the work between different labs and phases of the research for maximum efficiency and progress. Scientific officers then report these results to executives. They may also meet with clients or regulators to discuss, report or explain projects. Scientific officers also work with other departments on tasks related to policymaking, intellectual property or management of lab sites

Integral secondary job duties include hiring personnel, training them for the specific research projects and supervising their research. Scientific officers must also manage the budget for their division, including personnel salaries, equipment and supply costs. Additionally, they develop acceptable work policies and procedures that meet government or industry regulatory standards.

Salary Information

Scientific officers earn fairly high salaries commensurate with the higher level of education and years of experience required to attain these positions. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't offer salary information for scientific officers specifically, it does offer salary figures for related career fields. In 2018, the BLS stated that the average annual salary of natural science managers was $139,680. Information from that same year showed that those who worked directly in scientific research and development earned average salaries of $169,830, and those who worked in the management of companies and enterprises made an average of $168,980.

Employment Outlook

Employment of natural science managers was predicted to grow 6% from 2018-2028, according to the BLS. This growth is considered average, due in part to an increase in outsourcing of scientific work to specialized companies. The states employing the greatest number of natural science managers in 2018 were California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Maryland, and North Carolina, per BLS data.

A scientific officer, or natural science manager, is an experienced scientific researcher, often in charge of research and development within their field. They perform many administrative and managerial duties, and often hold an advanced degree. Job opportunities for natural science managers are predicted to be average over the 2018-2028 decade.

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