How to become a Scientist
What does a Scientist do?
Scientists are involved in a number of science disciplines
and in different kinds of science work, for example:
- Research and development: scientists
working in this field are involved in developing new
products and industrial processes, improving efficiency,
or scaling up a science laboratory procedure to full scale
- Scientific analysis and investigation:
this area of work can include: diagnosing,
monitoring or treating disease or illness; measuring
levels of pollution or environmental damage; looking at
ways to increase environmental protection; analysing
samples as part of criminal investigations; predicting the
weather or environmental disasters; discovering and
extracting valuable natural resources such as oil or gas.
- Education and the media: some scientists
teach their subject in school, college or university;
others are involved in designing educational materials
for use in broadcasting, schools and colleges or
museums. Scientific journalists and publishers write in
everyday language about complex scientific concepts.
- Administration: scientists work in
government departments and non-governmental
agencies, using their scientific understanding to inform
and assist in formulating policies.
may also be involved in the biosciences and physical
sciences. Work may involve handling hazardous
substances, or micro-organisms which cause infectious
diseases. Some of the samples studied may be
unpleasant, and the equipment used may be complex
Some scientists will also supervise
the work of support staff and technicians, leading a
team of scientists and other staff. There may be
administrative tasks to carry out.
What's the working environment like working as a Scientist?
Scientists usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday,
although evening and weekend work is often required if
involved with ongoing projects. Shifts, nights, or on-call
work may be necessary if the job involves providing a
round-the-clock service to the public, as in the NHS.
Practical scientists mainly work in laboratories but
many are involved in fieldwork, such as collecting
samples, conservation work, monitoring environmental
factors, or studying plants and animals in their natural
Much of the work in laboratories requires
sterile conditions, and long periods could be spent
sitting or standing at a bench or piece of equipment.
Some form of protective clothing may be worn to protect
themselves and prevent contamination of samples or
equipment. Fieldwork may be physically demanding.
What does it take to become a Scientist?
To be a scientist, you should:
- have an enquiring
mind and be able to think clearly and logically
good at problem solving, with a methodical approach to
- be able to work accurately and pay great
attention to detail
- be able to work in, and lead, a
team of professionals
- have excellent verbal and
written communication skills; be able to write reports
and present your work
- be able to keep up with
advances in your field
- understand statistics and
relevant computer packages, and be willing to do
Scientist Career Opportunities
There are a large number of scientists working in the UK,
although some jobs may be restricted to certain areas of
the country or locations because of the nature of the
work, for example environmental or conservation work.
Relocation may be necessary for career progression.
Scientists can work for a wide range of employers.
Large companies outsource both specialist and routine
scientific work, and there is an increase in the number of
‘spinout’ companies from universities. These trends have
resulted in more scientists working for small or medium-
sized companies and more opportunity to become self-
employed or to start their own company.
and management responsibilities may be available to
more experienced scientists, and some scientists may
become more involved in the commercial aspects of the
work of a company.
If you would like to know anything about Scientist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.The Science Council
210 Euston Road
Tel: 020 7611 8754
(Science Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance)
14 Upton Road
Tel: 0808 100 3682
Facts and Stats:
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