Career Options for Those with a Science Degree
There are numerous career options for those with a science degree that span across the life and physical sciences. A science degree is typically earned within a particular area, but even within one area - like environmental science - multiple job options tend to exist. Here, we have listed just a few of the possible career options in different fields.
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$68,910||11%|
|Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists||$60,520||4%|
|Forensic Science Technicians||$56,750||27%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Career Information for Those with a Science Degree
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists work to protect the environment through fieldwork and research. Ultimately, the data they collect and the solutions they provide to environmental problems help improve human health. These scientists travel to various locations to collect air, water, soil and other natural samples to test and analyze in the lab for any signs of contamination, pollution or other environmental hazards. Their findings may be used to advise various officials on things like policies and regulations. Environmental scientists and specialists need at least a bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences, such as biology, chemistry or physics.
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
Zoologists and wildlife biologists primarily study animals, but they may also investigate ecosystems and human impact on a particular habitat. While studying animals, they may focus on learning about a particular species' behavior, physical characteristics, social interactions and more. These scientists may also work to find ways to improve or develop conservation efforts for a species, such as captive breeding programs. Often for conservation purposes, they will closely monitor population sizes and dynamics. Entry-level positions in this field require a bachelor's degree, typically in biology, zoology or ecology. Research positions require a master's or Ph.D., and these programs of study usually focus on a particular group of animals, like birds or reptiles.
Forensic Science Technicians
Forensic science technicians apply their science skills to the criminal and legal systems by collecting and analyzing evidence from crime scenes. They may specialize in the fieldwork side or the laboratory side. Those that work in the field, or at crime scenes, take pictures, collect evidence and samples and record observations. Those in the lab analyze the samples using chemistry and other tests to try and connect evidence to a particular suspect. All forensic science technicians must take detailed notes and fill out reports that may be used in trials, as well as being prepared to testify concerning their work on a case. These professionals need at least a bachelor's degree and some on-the-job training. Their degree is usually in biology, chemistry or forensic science.
Physicists can specialize in numerous areas, such as astrophysics, nuclear physics, medical physics, atomic physics and more. In general, physicists study how matter and energy interact by conducting complex experiments and models to develop, prove or disprove theories in the field. Their work requires technical laboratory equipment, like specialized computer software and lasers. Many physicists, perhaps more than other scientists, apply for various grants and other funding opportunities to pay for their research. Like most scientists, their findings are reported in research papers and presentations to their colleagues and other interested parties. To conduct independent research, physicists must hold a Ph.D. However, there are some available jobs with the government that only require a bachelor's degree in the field.
Chemists study chemicals, chemical processes and other components of various products and substances in a laboratory setting. Similar to physicists, they conduct complex experiments to develop new products and/or test products and substances for safety. Their work requires the use of various lab equipment, and they must carefully measure and mix solutions and reagents for their tests. They may oversee other lab technicians and check for proper lab and safety procedures. Chemists are also responsible for producing detailed technical reports and research papers on their findings. A bachelor's degree is needed for entry-level chemistry jobs, but a master's or Ph.D. is needed for most research-based positions.
Geoscientists study various aspects of the Earth, like composition and structure, through field and laboratory tests. Their field studies usually involve taking rock and/or soil samples and completing land surveys. In the lab, they may test the samples for composition. Their findings are used for practical purposes, such as creating maps and locating natural resources, but they're also used on a larger scale to gain insight into the Earth's past and present, which in turn could help predict future characteristics of the planet. Most geoscientists enter the field with a master's degree, but entry-level jobs are available for those with a bachelor's degree. A doctorate is required for some advanced research positions, and some states may require geoscientists to hold a license to work with the public.