Why Become a Scientist?

Why should I seek a career in science?

If you are curious about the world around you and are excited by the act and process of discovery, a career in science may be a wise choice for you. Because science is such a broad term and comprises so many different fields, you can embark on a wide variety of careers. You can enter the medical science field because you want to find cures for health-related problems and diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and HIV. You can become a bioengineer if you wish to combat such social issues as global hunger, or you can train to be an environmental scientist if you wish to preserve and protect our planet by addressing pollution and global warming. If you want to develop new products, such as smaller cell phones, smarter computers, faster cars or safer airplanes, science is the way to go.

So how do you know if a career in science is for you? Start by learning about topics of interest to scientists by going online or talking to your science teacher or librarian. Then, do your research and learn more about careers in science.

What does a scientist do?

Depending on their field, scientists do just about everything — from trying to stop the spread of malaria, to harnessing the wind for energy, to making our cell phones work better. One thing they all have in common is research. Conducting research can be both satisfying and very challenging, ranging from the excitement of a new discovery to the day-to-day work of repetitive experiments. Scientists conduct a wide range of research to test their hypothesis, an explanation for something they have observed or experienced, and develop new theories. Because they are often driven by their curiosity about how our world functions, scientists are in the unique position to create new knowledge, and that leads them to develop new technologies.

Where do scientists work?

Pursuing a doctoral degree used to mean a career in academia. But times have changed, and today’s technology-driven world has opened up countless opportunities off campus for many students with a Ph.D. Although teaching at a college or university is still an option, science graduates now find themselves working for government labs, private enterprises and nonprofit organizations. They are in high demand in these sectors, especially in the United States, which is sorely lacking qualified science and math students.

Many industries — biotechnology, pharmaceutical, environmental, biomedical, etc. — are encouraged to expand their research and development, and that is leading to some very exciting opportunities for scientists. In addition, many industries that are not traditionally thought of to employ science students — financial services, information technology and consulting companies — are now their biggest recruiters. To learn more about what scientists do, visit the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Kids Pages.