I Want To Work In … Scientific Research and Development
Although you can get a job as a trainee research scientist in industry with a good first degree, for those wanting a long term career in research it may be advisable to study for a doctorate as promotion within research may be hindered without one - you may encounter "glass ceilings". A vacation placement or sandwich year in a research environment will enhance your chances of entry.
PROFILE: Research & Development Scientist
INVOLVES: designing & conducting experiments. Interpreting data. Teaching & supervising. Project management. Writing reports & scientific papers. Keeping up to date with new developments. Working in a small group of scientists, developing products.
RELATED JOBS: clinical scientist – hospitals, analytical scientist, computer programmer, systems analyst, university lecturer, and health & safety officer.
Typical academic career path
- Science Degree - upper second or first class
- Next a PhD; an independent and original research project supported by a supervisor and lasting about 3 years. You have to write a 300 page thesis and then defend it in front of a panel of scientists.
- Then post-doctoral research, typically lasting two to three years. Writing research papers, presenting findings at meetings and working more independently.
- Then lecturer or group leader. Managing a research team. Supervising research students, teaching, reviewing grants and papers and presenting the work of the laboratory.
- Chart of some career routes available with a science degree
WHAT SKILLS DO RESEARCH SCIENTISTS NEED?Here is a list compiled by one major pharmaceutical company:
|"Multi-tasking and time management skills are essential for a research scientist. Communication and presentation skills are also very important. You also need to be able to write well. For post-docs the process of making application for funding can be stressful but is an essential part of the job."|
- Attention to detail but also able to see the larger picture.
- Prepared to do repetitive tasks.
- Able to work independently, with little supervision. Make your own decisions. Self motivated.
- Problem solving skills. Ability to keep persevering when things are going wrong.
- Great enthusiasm for their subject
- Presentation skills
- Computing Skills
- Time Management/organising skills
- People skills
- Report writing/documentation of experiments
- Laboratory experience and good technical skills
|Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing.
Wernher Von BraunA scientist is someone who learns more and more about less and less, and ultimately knows everything about nothing
A Philosopher is someone who learns less and less about more and more, and ultimately knows nothing about everything.
You can move from Research into many other careers. Many junior research staff use research as a stepping stone to other functions within pharmaceutical companies, such as:
- Production and Quality Assurance
- Patent Work
- Regulatory Affairs
- Technical Sales and Marketing
- Science Writing
For further information see also
- New Scientist Article Is it OK not to do a PhD? - the pro's and con's of doing a PhD
- Prospects Medical Research Scientist Profile www.prospects.ac.uk/links/ResSciMed
- Prospects Life Sciences Researcher Profile www.prospects.ac.uk/links/ResSciLife
- Science Jobs find here details of most of the main jobs available in science
- Computer Science
- Electronics and Computer Systems Engineering
- Forensic Science including forensic biology and forensic chemistry .
PROFILE: Scientific Consultant
INVOLVES: Applying scientific techniques & methodologies to basically non-scientific industries - solving operational problems as they arise - normally short term work as part of a multi-disciplinary team - the other disciplines being non-scientific.
Last fully updated June 2013