A reader asks me to dig up a post he thinks I might have written about various careers, other than research careers, that one might pursue with a science degree. As far as I know, I haven't written a post on this subject (although maybe he has a time machine and is remembering it from the future ...).
It's a very good question, though! Especially since one of my slogans is "Your major doesn't need to be your life path," I believe that science majors can do many, many things in the world of work (just like philosophy majors, only with fewer incredulous looks from bystanders).
But, it's been a long time since a science major who wasn't looking to become a philosopher has asked me for career advice. I'm a little rusty at this particular question.
"Check the internets!" I thought to myself. I found the chemistry department website at my alma mater and discovered:
What Does One Do With a Chemistry or Biological Chemistry Major?
just as unlinked to anything as it is right here. Is it a Zen koan? A dire economic worry? Probably just an indication that there's a FAQ being written right now!
In the meantime, here are some options off the top of my head:
- Science teacher. It might require additional schooling to get certification, but goodness knows we need more science teachers who are psyched about science rather than afraid of it.
- Technical writer. Having a knack for explaining complicated things clearly is definitely an asset here. There are some companies (especially in the tech and biotech sectors) who hire their own tech writers. There are other tech writers who work freelance.
- Science writer/journalist. Having journalists who have seen a scientific field from the inside, and who knows how to communicate with scientists as well as with laypeople, probably means the audience can get a more accurate story about the science. This is another case where more schooling may be useful, if not required.
- Policy guy. There's a lot of science to understand to do good public policy. Most, but not all, of the scientists I know who are doing policy got public policy degrees after their science degrees.
- Hands-on science-demo guy at a science or tech museum. (Note that "guy" is non-gender-specific as far as I'm concerned.) Probably it's good to like people for this one.
- Lawyer. Patent law, especially, draws in lots of people with science backgrounds. Law school is a must, of course.
And, of course, there are all sorts of non-research jobs at science-oriented companies (in sales, public relations, managing scientists, etc.).
I am leaving many possibilities out. I turn to my readers who may be science majors in non-research jobs: What do you do for a living? Does your science degree help you do it? Would you recommend it to others? What other cool jobs have you seen people with science majors doing?