Science Careers

Careers with a Science Degree

Transitioning from student to member of the workforce is an intimidating situation for many soon-to-be and recent graduates. There can be many unknowns when you're thinking about what awaits you after school, and you may be asking yourself the same questions that many students before you have asked:

  • What career options does a science degree give me?
  • How can I find a good job?
  • Will I earn a good salary?
  • What kind of company will I work for?
  • Will I find fulfillment and stimulation in my job?


From a career as an environmental technician, to becoming a doctor, there are a multitude of paths you can pursue. In fact, you could even pursue a career in sales if you wanted to. This science careers guide probably won't answer all of your questions, but it will give you a better idea of what you can do with this degree.

Sorted by major, this guide contains detailed occupational information on hundreds of careers that are relevant to a degree in science. We’ve included job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers. Not enough? We’ve outlined relevant scholarships that can help you pay for school!

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Why is a Science Degree Useful?

Simply put, it's all about the skills. Pursuing a degree in science helps to thoroughly teach you to solve problems using logic and scientific methods; traits that are highly valued by many of today’s top employers, and across almost every industry.

The coursework related to an education in this field helps you gain knowledge and training that will be useful for the rest of your life, both within and outside of the workplace.

An undergraduate science degree will not only help you expand your knowledge base in the field of science, it will help you develop intangible traits such critical thinking, effective communication, creativity and independent judgment.

The pursuit and achievement of your degree will allow you to discover new knowledge to better understand yourself, the world, and your place in it. Studying science at the undergraduate level also provides you with the knowledge needed to make important decisions, react to challenges, and solve problems that threaten our planet or its various inhabitants.

Practical career-related applications of this knowledge may include (among many others) finding new ways to treat diseases, properly managing natural resources, or effectively reacting to the occurrence of epidemics.



Career Options You'll Have

Will having a science degree help you find a good job? The short answer is...yes!

This career guide is designed to help you put your mind at ease. It will show you that in fact, yes, there are a wide variety of well-paying and interesting jobs you can pursue based on the skills and knowledge you have gained while pursuing your degree.

Career Guides: Sorted By Major

Employable Skills You Learn

There are many skills you'll gain as a science student: skills that are applicable to careers that are directly related to your degree, as well as those that aren't.

As a student, you'll be taught more than just how a lab functions; you'll also be taught many skills that employers both inside and outside the field of science are looking for. Take a look at the next set of job postings you come across. Do they all require specific degrees? Odds are that many of these job postings won’t. The following is a set of skills that you will gain that you can apply to almost any career, in almost any field:

Research Skills:

The ability to locate information and determine its quality in a timely manner.

Report writing skills:

The ability to present findings in a logical order, while articulating findings.

Data collection skills:

The ability to collect data involves teamwork, communication, thoroughness and attention to detail.

Data analysis skills:

Involves using a wide range of statistical methods and techniques to identify patterns and other attributes of various sets of data.

Time management and organizational skills:

The ability to see a project through from start to finish within strict deadlines.

Problem solving skills:

Using logical methods to solve problems is a skill that many employers value greatly.

Communication skills:

Being able to present and articulate complicated ideas in a clear and concise manner.

 

 

Who Employs Science Graduates?

Employers that value skills such as the ability to use logic, and apply scientific methods to solve problems, are those that will value you most.

Among the list of required skills frequently listed on job postings across Canada and the United States are 'problem solving abilities' and being 'detail oriented', attributes that are gained through coursework in an undergraduate science program.

 

Types of Employers That Will Be Interested

The skills and knowledge that you'll obtain will make you employable with virtually any type of organization. Some employers however, may have a very specific skill set and knowledge base in mind with regard to the who they recruit; they may be looking to hire only graduates that have majored in a specific area, such as biochemistry or environmental science.

For example, a food product development company is more likely to hire a recent graduate that majored in nutrition, chemistry or food sciences, versus one who majored in environmental science or physics.

In a general, collective sense, you should have a broad range of options with regard to who will employ you after graduation, including:

  • Municipal, provincial/state and federal government agencies
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Colleges and universities
  • Public and private research institutions
  • Hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities
  • Museums and conservatories
  • Engineering consulting companies
  • Scientific publications and journals
  • Food and beverage production companies
  • Environmental impact research and assessment organizations
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Environmental and ecological consulting companies
  • Oil, gas and mining companies
  • Service firms to oil, gas and mining companies
  • Non-ferrous metal smelting and refining companies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Self-employment

 

How Much Can I Earn?

The salary you could earn largely depends on what career you choose tp pursue. For example, if you become a biological technologist right out of school, your earnings will likely be different, for better or for worse, from what you would make if you chose to go to medical school and become a specialized physician. Other factors that determine how much you can earn include (not an inclusive list)

  • The industry in which you find work
  • The size and type of your employer
  • The region in which you work
  • Other work experience you may have accrued

 

Sample Average Salary Figures for Science Grads - By Major

Salary Figures Canada: Below is a compilation of average salary figures for science graduates from various areas of academic focus, regardless of what career field they chose. (1) 

  • $61,929 CAD - Nursing
  • $67,100 CAD - Computer Science
  • $56,663 CAD - Mathematics
  • $44,767 CAD - Other Arts and Science
  • $41,251 CAD - Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • $44,091 CAD - Physical Sciences
  • $41,641 CAD - Food Science and Nutrition
  • $40,958 CAD - Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • $50,001 CAD - Forestry

(1) Figures compiled from a Council of Ontario Universities study published in 2016.



Advice for Finding the Perfect Career

You’re about to graduate, and you’re eager to make your mark. How do you find that perfect job among a myriad of possible career paths? Below we’ve outlined some common methods of finding your perfect job in science.

Internship and co-op opportunities

Internships and co-op opportunities are a great way to ‘learn by doing’. During your final two years of school, you should be actively searching for these opportunities. Speak to your professors and your school’s career resource office to find something suitable. If you're able to land such a position and do a good job, you're likely to be offered a full time position with the company upon graduation.

Science Job/Career fairs:

Career fairs are a great way to interact with the recruiters of many organizations in a face-to-face setting. Be sure to ‘interview’ these employers by asking them why you should choose them, after all these organizations are just as eager to acquire strong talent as you are eager to find a great job. Be sure to bring multiple copies of your resume and engage with as many different companies as you can.

Your school’s career services/resources office:

The career services professionals in your school are paid to help you make career choices and introduce you to career information resources. Remember, they are not going to come find you; you need to take the initiative and approach them. These professionals can often identify career options that many undergraduate science students aren't aware of.

Networking:

Your personal and professional network should never be overlooked when considering your science career options and job prospects. The more people that are aware of your job search, the better your chances of finding suitable employment opportunities. Odds are someone in your network will know someone who is hiring, and they’ll be able to put in a good word for you.

Contact employers directly:

Identify common, and not so common, employers of science graduates. Then, visit the “careers” section of their websites to search for current opportunities. If they don’t have any listed that directly pertain to your desired field of work, then it may be worth your while to contact them directly and inquire about any unadvertised or upcoming opportunities that may be of interest to you.

By implementing some or all of these tactics in your job search, it won’t be long before you're a science graduate with multiple job offers, and plenty of options for starting your career.

Success Tip:

Be sure to keep a list of anyone you’ve spoken to, in any capacity, about a job. This includes employers you’ve met at career fairs, people you’ve contacted from your network, and anyone else with whom you’ve spoken directly about your job search. Make sure to periodically follow up with these individuals.

By implementing some or all of these tactics in your job search, it won’t be long before you're a science graduate with multiple job offers, and plenty of options for where to your career.



Science Career Planning Timeline

Below we’ve outlined a specific timeline of actions that will help you effectively make the transition from an undergraduate student to a professional in your chosen field. Remember, the more proactive you are with your career planning now, the more options you will have when you graduate.





    First Year

  • Create a resume, and if it seems short don't be concerned, as most first year science students won't have lengthy resumes at this point
  • Introduce yourself to the career resource/services staff at your school
  • Learn about yourself, your interests, and skills by utilizing online and printed resources
  • Commit to a major by identifying the one that most relates to your interests and abilities
  • Identify and pursue summer work and volunteer experiences that align with your major
  • Ensure to maintain a strong GPA, as many employers will exclude students and recent graduates with low GPA's from internships and job opportunities
  • Purchase a suit or an outfit that you can wear for interviews throughout the duration of your university career

    Second Year

  • Update your resume with any degree-related work experience you've obtained
  • Join an on-campus science organization; this will help you network and develop interpersonal and communication skills
  • Take several online career assessments
  • Attend science-specific and general career exploration workshops, job fairs and other similar events
  • Identify and contact scientific professionals to conduct an informal interview, they will give you great first hand information regarding a day in the life of someone with a career in science
  • Research any available job shadowing or volunteer opportunities
  • Plan early for summer work opportunities or internships

    Third Year

  • Pursue leadership opportunities in student organizations
  • Update your resume to include all related work experience you've obtained during and after the second year of your science program
  • Prepare for internship interviews by attending interview workshops
  • Attend science-specific and general career fairs to research internships and future job opportunities
  • Research graduate programs in science, and the schools that offer them
  • Attend graduate career fairs to make contact with program representatives
  • Finalize summer experience/internship plans

    Fourth Year

  • Seek and attend employment skill-building workshops
  • Finalize your resume and cover letters to reflect all of the science-related work experience you have gained, as well as your education
  • Sign up for mock interviews with your career resources/services staff
  • Attend science-specific and general career fairs in the geographical location you plan to live (if possible)
  • Apply to graduate school programs if you plan on attending
  • Research potential employers and job possibilities
  • Pursue any networking contacts through friends, family, clubs, professors, etc.
  • If you have had successful co-op or internship experiences, you may already have one or more full-time job offers from employers with whom you have already worked

 

Science Scholarships

The sad truth is that literally millions of dollars in scholarship money goes unused every single year in North America! And it's simply because they're aren't enough applicants. You can help solve this over-funding crisis by getting some of this money.

Visit our Scholarships page to find scholarships, awards and bursaries related to your field of study, as well as those open to all students, regardless of field of study.

Find scholarships >

 

Science Careers
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