Hands-On Careers in Science

Jan 19, 2020

Hands-On Career Options in Science

Many careers in science are not solely theoretical, but are also hands-on and involve active participation on the part of the scientist to conduct their research. These hands-on careers are available across different fields in science, including biology, chemistry and environmental studies. Find out about some of the available hands-on careers in science here.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists $63,420 5%
Chemists $76,890 4%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $71,130 8%
Animal Scientists $58,380 7%
Food Scientists and Technologists $65,300 5%
Forensic Science Technicians $58,230 14%
Geoscientists $91,130 6%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Hands-On Careers in Science

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Zoologists and wildlife biologists perform hands-on fieldwork to collect specimens and conduct their various research projects on different animal species. These scientists may study animal behavior or the social and physical characteristics of a species, as well as any human impact on the animal's environment. Zoologists and wildlife biologists report their findings in research papers and may apply their results to making improvements to animal conservation efforts. Most research positions for these scientists require a master's or doctoral degree, but some entry-level jobs only require a bachelor's degree.


Chemists use their hands to perform intricate experiments with various chemicals in a laboratory setting. This may require them to prepare solutions, test materials and analyze substances, as well as train and oversee the activities of other lab technicians. Many chemists choose to specialize in a particular area of the field, including analytical chemistry, forensic chemistry, organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry and theoretical chemistry. Chemists conducting research usually need a master's or doctoral degree, but jobs are available to those with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists conduct hands-on fieldwork to collect environmental samples, like air, water, soil and plant samples. They analyze these samples back in a lab to test for environmental pollution and contamination that may be affecting wildlife and/or human health. If contamination is discovered, these professionals work to help develop ways to correct the issues and prevent them in the future, as well as continuing to monitor the area for improvement. Environmental scientists and specialists typically need at least a bachelor's degree in a natural science.

Animal Scientists

Animal scientists work hands-on with domestic farm animals, like cows and chickens. They primarily work to improve food production from these animals, whether it is meat, milk, eggs or other products, through crossbreeding and animal genetics. They also advise farmers on how to improve the housing, nutrition and other factors for these animals to lower the death rates and illnesses. Animal scientists need at least a bachelor's degree and may even pursue as high as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree.

Food Scientists and Technologists

Food scientists and technologists perform a wide variety of tasks in and out of a laboratory setting, many of which are hands-on. Some of these professionals conduct research in labs looking at ways to improve the quality of food and/or studying the nutritional value of foods, while others inspect food-processing areas to ensure that they are meeting all government regulations and standards. Still other food scientists and technologists may focus their work on product development, looking at the packaging, preserving and distribution of food. These scientists need at least a bachelor's degree but are likely to hold an advanced degree in the field.

Forensic Science Technicians

Forensic science technicians work hands-on at crime scenes collecting evidence and then perform further hands-on work in the lab, where they analyze evidence. At crime scenes, they take pictures of the scene, record observations, collect evidence like weapons and fingerprints, reconstruct the scene and make sketches of the scene as needed. In the laboratory, these technicians analyze the evidence to try and find DNA and other factors that link a suspect to the crime. Forensic science technicians need on-the-job training and a bachelor's degree in a natural science.


Geoscientists perform a wide variety of hands-on activities to study the Earth and its physical characteristics. Their fieldwork requires them to collect rock samples and conduct surveys, which they then use to help find deposits of natural resources. They also conduct lab analysis on samples and use their results and other sources like aerial photos to make geologic maps. Most geoscientists have at least a master's degree, but jobs are available for those with a bachelor's degree.

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