Life science is one of the most wide-reaching and broad areas in the science field. While the scientists within the field study details on the smallest of scales, the field itself is enormous.
The numerous opportunities, specialties, and focuses may seem overwhelming at times. Whether you already know what your life and science dream job is or you are still trying to figure it out, here are five helpful tips to help you get your life science career started down a path that will lead to success.
Evaluate Whether a Career in Life Science is For You
There is an increasing demand for scientists and professionals who can tackle and solve the complex problems of our world and its organisms, particularly the problems, diseases, and disasters that impact humans.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biotech research and development employment grew 5.1%, compared with 1.6% for total employment between 2010 and 2019. Job security is typically not something to worry about when considering a career in many of the science fields, but keep in mind that it may differ for each career type.
Due to the job security within many areas of life science, reasonable pay, and the drive for cutting-edge discoveries, the life science fields tend to be very competitive in most specialties. You will need to decide if you are passionate about life science and are willing to work hard and smart to enter the field and climb to the top.
Explore Your Career Options
Life science is an exceptionally broad field that includes dozens of fields and hundreds of specialties. While the diversity of careers gives you a lot of options to choose from, narrowing down a specific area of interest can be difficult for some individuals who are passionate about many different areas of life science.
Career paths in life science include chemical manufacturing, medical advancements, biotechnology, genetic research, ecology, stem cell research, synthetic biology, plant genetics, ecology, neurobiology, and many more. Explore your options by researching careers online and speaking with professionals in different areas of life science.
Narrow Down Your Area of Interest
When narrowing down your area of interest, you may want to begin by ruling out the sciences that you don’t like. For example, if you can’t stand insets then entomology, the study of insects and their relation to humans, may not be for you.
Once you have narrowed down your list by eliminating the sciences that are not appealing, take a look at what is left on the list and research each science and its career options.
A great way to learn more about each science is to read current articles and publications about innovations in each field. If reading through articles of progress and innovation in a particular science excites you, then you may be a great candidate to help push the innovation forward in the future.
While online research can be effective because of the amount of information that can be found online, there is no substitute for in-person experiences. If you think you may be interested in a particular career, check to see if there are any local internships or entry-level jobs that you can work at while you are working towards your degree.
Many universities offer internships and jobs to students who are involved in a science major so check with your professors and counselors to see if there are any openings at your school.
Identify the Right Educational Path and Qualifications for Your Area of Interest
While being passionate about life science is important, it is not enough to get you into the field. Your passion needs to be combined with the right educational experience and qualifications. Many positions in scientific fields require a college degree and experience.
The type of degree and amount of schooling may differ depending on your focus. For example, EnvironmentalScience.org reports that wildlife biologists need a Bachelor’s Degree in wildlife biology, general biology, zoology, ecology, or another related field for an entry-level position and a minimum of a Master’s Degree is required for most higher positions.
A great way to check the requirements for your ideal job is to search for current job openings. Take a look at the requirements that each job requires for its applicants. In addition to doing your own online research, consider speaking to a counselor at your university who is familiar with the field you would like to work in.
Instead of speaking to a general admissions counselor, speak to a counselor in your major; if you are studying biology, meeting with the academic counselors in the biology department will most likely lead to more accurate information and insight.
Tailor Your Resume and Work Experience to Your Field
Getting a relevant degree in your area of study is important, but it is not the only thing that your future employers are looking for. Most employers value previous experience, even for entry-level positions. While you are getting your degree, try to get jobs that are relevant to your field instead of standard part-time and full-time jobs.
Getting a job in your life science field will help you fill your resume, but more importantly, it is an opportunity to build your network and make connections in your field. If you work at a fast-food restaurant while getting your degree, your coworkers and superiors are probably not going to be able to help you get a job in the life science field when you graduate. Working or interning in a lab or research facility can help you build connections with professionals in your field that could be helpful when you enter the workplace after graduation.
Work Hard and Smart
The life science fields are on the cutting edge of innovation, especially with the rapid increase of technological advances in the field. In late 2020, Bayer Global released an article addressing how biology and technology advance one another, and innovations are expected to help address critical global challenges over the next decade including chronic illnesses, climate change, and global food security.
Many of the world’s best scientists are working in the life science fields and in order to work with them in the future, you will need to work hard and smart. It is important to learn the fundamentals while also keeping an open mind to embrace innovations and changes.
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