According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, chemist and materials scientists’ occupations will grow by 6 percent by 2030. Even with steady growth rates, scientists considering a career change is not a new phenomenon. In fact, the same report by BLS states that at least 6,000 people in this industry will change careers by 2030.
Whether the reason for the career change is low job satisfaction, low pay, or a lack of work-life balance, knowing what career options are available is critical. If you’re interested in how to go about a career change for scientists, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best jobs to transition into and tips to get you started.
Find Your Bootcamp Match
- Career Karma matches you with top tech bootcamps
- Access exclusive scholarships and prep courses
Career Change for Scientists: Overview
Annual salaries for medical scientists are usually around $91,510 per year, which is a decent amount of money. However, spending all your time in a lab or office studying data and reports can become tedious quickly, especially if you are an outgoing person who enjoys working in a dynamic environment.
If you are fresh out of school, you may discover that the job market isn’t what it used to be and that finding a job is much more difficult than it was. Some scientists find their current industry or career to be unsatisfactory. If that is you, you may be wondering what to do next. If you are looking to switch careers, you should know there are plenty of opportunities out there.
What Can You Do with a Degree in Science Besides a Scientist?
The direction you take will be heavily influenced by your academic career path and experience. For example, if you are a statistical scientist, a career in marketing or project management would be a good fit for you. A degree in science proves you’re an analytical thinker with an impressive work ethic. You likely have transferable skills that will be of use in a variety of fields.
Common Second Careers for Scientists
Some common alternative career paths for scientists include teaching, science illustration, technical writing, and headhunting. Job seekers often find that scientific occupations are regarded highly by potential employers. Some jobs may require you to return to school to gain additional education or certifications, but your transferable skills can also be very beneficial.
The Best Alternative Careers for Scientists in 2022
Scientists spend their days conducting research and analyzing data in order to facilitate decision-making. They can also use these skills to succeed in non-tech and alternative tech careers. Below are ten high-paying jobs where former scientists can still thrive.
High-Paying Jobs for Former Scientists
|Job||Average Salary||Transferable Scientist Skills|
|Product or Marketing Manager||$132, 290||Technical writing skills, analytical skills, market research, strategic thinking, prioritizing skills|
|Patent Lawyer||$126, 930||Analytical skills, persuasive writing, interview skills|
|Science Policy Maker||$125, 350||Research, ability to gather data, project management, strategic planning, data analysis, discipline-specific knowledge|
|Consultancy||$102,510||Customer service, project management, researching, data collection, data analysis, technical writing, communication skills|
|Professor||$101,320||Analysis, decision making, communication skills, leadership, interpersonal skills, in-depth knowledge of the subject|
|Health and Safety Inspector||$72, 530||Data collection and analysis, budgeting, attention to detail, tech-savvy, problem-solving.|
|Technical Support||$68,868||Identify process improvements, data migration, redirecting problems to appropriate resources, maintain data reports, analyze application logs|
|Medical SalesRepresentative||$65,420||Organizational skills, understanding of scientific tech, research, knowledge of industry products and services|
|Recruitment||$63,490||Marketing, communication skills, networking and relationship building, multi-tasking and prioritization, relevant tech skills|
|Quality Assurance||$40,460||Organization and planning, statistics analysis, industry-specific knowledge, problem-solving, communication, reporting skills|
A product manager identifies real scientific problems, then helps create a wide range of products that solve the problem. They work with a marketing team to develop effective marketing strategies to market the product. As a scientist, you can use your expertise to identify gaps in the market, analyze data, make decisions and find solutions.
This role combines science and business career, so it may be beneficial to look into business schools and see what courses you can take to learn more about marketing and increase your level of education. However, be ready to work long hours and under pressure.
This career requires a lot of reading and data analysis, which you are already used to from your current position. For a smooth career transition, you must understand how the law works. You may need to return to grad school for additional studies if you want to experience employment growth.
Science Policy Maker
Government agencies are always on the lookout for people to help them formulate science policies. You will use your scientific knowledge to identify and analyze policy issues, draft reports, and write papers. Whether you are an environmental scientist, a lab manager, or have just completed your biology degree, this professional career is a great fit for you.
To be qualified for this position, you may need to complete a one-year course in science and technology policy. Since federal government jobs are not always available, consider looking into charities, scientific organizations, and non-governmental organizations. Your ability to stay on top of cutting-edge research will help you in this role.
Your responsibility as a consultant is to transform your client’s business model and increase profitability. You will identify their key challenges and opportunities, and you will focus on all aspects to bring about sustainable change. With a scientific background, you can provide useful feedback to organizations in fields from chemical manufacturing to pharmaceutical companies.
You can use your analytical skills, scientific background, and laboratory experience to become a career consultant, particularly if you have an advanced degree such as a Ph.D., though this is not required. A background in science is crucial, but a background in law, management, or business experience is also beneficial.
Even if you have a science degree, school teachers need to obtain additional qualifications to get hired. The additional training you need will depend on whether you want to be a college professor or a high school science teacher.
If you want to work at a college and earn a higher median wage, graduate school is a must if you don’t have a master’s or PhD. Fortunately, your previous experience will come in handy once you begin your new faculty position.
Health and Safety Inspector
It is not difficult to become a health and safety inspector with a science or engineering background. You can easily get this job if you have an entry-level education, such as a degree in chemistry. Your responsibilities will include visiting industrial and commercial facilities to ensure that all health and safety procedures are followed.
You will ensure that workers have the necessary safety equipment to protect them from hazardous environmental conditions and chemicals. You’ll write technical reports and fill out the necessary paperwork when you’re finished. You can also create safety working programs and strategies to keep employees safe.
Technical support professionals resolve network issues, repair faults, identify hardware and software solutions, and interact with customers to solve problems. It is a profession that relies on science-related skills, such as knowledge of programming languages, applied research, quality control, and problem-solving.
However, you might need a degree in computer science or a related field before working in any type of technical support. In addition, you might need to be certified to work as a computer support specialist or IT support specialist. This career path encompasses a wide range of positions, and might be perfect for introverted scientists or lab workers.
Medical Sales Representative
As a medical sales representative, your job entails selling medicine, prescription drugs, and medical equipment. Before you begin selling, you will collaborate with the company’s marketing manager to determine where there is a need for your medical products. This is a demanding industry role that may necessitate additional training for scientists.
You can enroll in a medical sales training program that lasts between four and six months. You will learn the fundamentals of sales, high-demand skills, and attracting customers. You can also pursue a sales bootcamp, which is more expedient and career-specific. As a former scientist in medical sales, employers will value your communication skills and research expertise.
A headhunter can work as a consultant or as a member of a human resource team. Whichever you prefer, becoming a headhunter entails screening job candidates to know if they are a good fit for the company you work with.
You would have the expertise necessary to headhunt employees who fit any medical field, whether they’re technical roles like biophysicists, biochemists, or formal roles. You will also be tasked with negotiating hourly wages and investigating career track records to ensure that the candidate is a good fit for the role.
Quality assurance is central to science careers. Scientists rely on their QA skills to identify and resolve errors in order to avoid setbacks. Furthermore, science focuses on producing results and products that meet industry standards. As a result, a former scientist should have no difficulty transitioning into a career in quality assurance.
How to Make a Career Change from Scientist
Uncertainty and fear are natural reactions to a career change. It can be difficult to put your career on hold to gain new skills or education. However, by following the steps outlined below, you can certainly make a successful career change.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
1. Be Certain
You must be certain of your decision before changing careers. Many people make rash decisions due to work pressure, burnout, or low pay. Start by evaluating your job satisfaction and what you can change. You may just need a new employer rather than a whole new career.
2. Gain relevant training
Depending on the job, you may require additional training to be hired. Traditional education and undergraduate degrees are always an option, but you can also look into short-term options or additional resources such as online classes, trade schools, or bootcamps. You may also be able to gain experience through internships for certain roles.
3. Learn about the industry structure
Once you’ve decided on a career, begin researching the ins and outs of the job. Investigate occupational employment and wage statistics, as well as the job growth rate projections and the number of annual job openings. This data provides insight into job security, annual wages, and can help you anticipate what is to come.
4. Assess your skills
Most employers look for skills and key characteristics that are relevant to the job. For example, a medical sales professional should be assertive with excellent interpersonal, sales, and communication skills. Before applying for a job, research the skills required for the position and tailor your resume to match those requirements.
When pursuing a career change, applying for jobs may not be enough. It is essential to broaden your network and meet new people. One of the simplest ways is through business platforms such as LinkedIn. Create a profile outlining your experience and why you’re pursuing a career change. You never know what opportunities may be out there.
Is It Time to Make a Scientist Career Change?
Yes, if you have exhausted all available avenues and interests to help you find fulfillment as a scientist, it may be time to change careers. Fortunately, you still have access to many jobs that require the skills of a scientist and pay well.
You can be successful in any industry while still living comfortably. You may find that enrolling in a coding bootcamp is the quickest way to learn new skills and transition into a new career. In fact, most bootcamps provide career services and sometimes allow you to gain on-the-job training.
Scientist Career Change FAQ
You will begin by narrowing down your career options and gaining the necessary experience and skills to pursue your desired career path. You can take advantage of your transferable skills to sell yourself as a strong candidate for a variety of careers.
A former scientist can work as a university professor, quality assurance analyst, technical support specialist, marketing manager, and more. The list is endless because essential scientist skills, such as computer knowledge, communication, quality control, and research, are relevant across various industries.
Every different field of science has its own job outlook. For example, according to BLS, the job growth rate for conservation scientists is seven percent over the next decade. On the other hand, the job outlook for medicinal chemists is 17 percent.
No. It is never too late to make a career change if you are prepared for it. Whether you’re just starting out or looking for a change as part of your retirement plan, there is always an alternative career for scientists. However, depending on the job and employer regulations, you may need to begin with an entry-level position.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.