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Science Careers

Comparing Careers in Science

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Two scientists working in a laboratory

Two scientists working in a laboratory

(c) AlexRaths / istockphoto

Those who want to work in the science field can choose from careers in either of the two major branches of science — the life sciences or the physical sciences. The life sciences encompass the study of living organisms while the physical sciences deal with non-living matter. Included here is information on selected careers in both categories.

Biochemist or Biophysicist

Biochemists and biophysicists study living organisms and their relationship to the environment. To work as a biochemist or biophysicist one needs at least a bachelor's degree in applied science. This will qualify one for a job in applied research, product development, management or inspection. Those who want to do independent research must have a PhD. Biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,390 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Biochemist or Biophysicist

Chemist

Chemists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals to improve the way we live. One who wants to work as a chemist must have, at the minimum, a bachelor's degree in chemistry. However, most research jobs in chemistry require at least a master's degree, but more often a PhD Chemists earned a median annual salary of $68,220 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Chemist

Conservationist

Conservationists work with landowners and governments to protect natural resources including soil and water. Aspiring conservationists should earn a bachelor's degree in ecology, natural resource management, agriculture, biology or environmental science. Conservationists earned a median annual salary of $60,160 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Conservationist

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists conduct research in order to identify, abate or eliminate pollutants and hazards to the environment or to the health of the population. Most employers require a master's degree in environmental science, hydrology or a related natural science. Environmental scientists earned a median annual salary of $61,010 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming an Environmental Scientist

Environmental Technician

Environmental technicians, working under the direction of environmental scientists, monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution by performing laboratory and field tests. An environmental technician generally must have an associate degree or a certificate in applied science or science related technology, but some jobs require a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology. Environmental technicians earned a median annual salary of $40,790 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming an Environmental Technician

Forensic Scientist

Forensic scientists investigate crimes by collecting and analyzing physical evidence. They are sometimes called crime scene investigators. Many employers prefer applicants who have at least two years of specialized training or associate degrees in applied science or science-related technology. Others prefer applicants with bachelor's degrees in chemistry, biology, or forensic science. Forensic scientists earned a median annual salary of $51,480 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Forensic Scientist

Geoscientist

Geoscientists study the earth, including its composition, structure and other physical aspects. To get an entry-level research position as a geoscientist one must have a master's degree in geology or earth science. Geoscientists earned a median salary of $81,220 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Geoscientist

Hydrologist

Hydrologists research the distribution, circulation and physical properties of underground and surface waters. To work as a hydrologist one usually needs a master's degree in geoscience, environmental science or engineering with a concentration in hydrology or water sciences. Hydrologists earned a median annual salary of $73,670 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Hydrologist

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists research human diseases and conditions with an eye toward improving human health. To work as a medical scientist one must have either a PhD in a biological science or a medical degree (MD). Medical scientists earned a median annual salary of $74,590 in 2009.
Learn More About Becoming a Medical Scientist

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ and
Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, O*NET Online, on the Internet at http://online.onetcenter.org/ (visited February 4, 2011).

Explore more Careers By Field or Industry

 

Comparing Science Careers
  Minimum Education License Median Salary
Biochemist or Biophysicist Bachelor's none $82,390
Chemist Bachelor's none $68,220
Conservationist Bachelor's none $60,160
Environmental Scientist Master's none $61,010
Environmental Technician Associate or Certificate's none $40,790
Forensic Scientist 2 Years Training or Associate Degree none $51,480
Geoscientist Master's none $81,220
Hydrologist Master's none $73,670
Medical Scientist PhD or MD none $74,590

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