How Do I Become a Scientist?

If you think critically and have a naturally curious, analytical nature, you might be wondering how to become a scientist. Science is the study of the natural, physical world around us. Science is a vast field that extends from the medical field, relating to the human body, to outer space. Scientists study conditions and changes in the physical systems that make up the world, often with the goal of explaining how structures came to be, solving problems and controlling the environment to prevent new or additional problems. Aspiring scientists should be as comfortable planning experiments and doing calculations as they are performing hands-on tasks such as taking measurements, dissecting specimens or observing chemical reactions.

While many disciplines of science are rapidly-growing fields that can lead to exciting and profitable occupations, these numerous disciplines differ greatly from one another. Biologists study living things and may focus on animals that live in water (marine biology), tiny organisms (microbiology), wild animals (zoology and wildlife biology) or other specialties. Chemists study the reactions of chemical substances, like those used in medicine and food processing. Physicists investigate the scientific laws that determine how time passes and matter and energy exist.

Individuals who are considering a career in science should take as many science classes in high school as possible and do their own research to determine which discipline of science most appeals to them. To develop the knowledge they will need to succeed in their chosen discipline, aspiring scientists will have to pursue a bachelor’s degree from a college or university. Students should pursue a degree that relates to their chosen profession. For example, aspiring chemists will typically major in chemistry. Some occupations require more extensive schooling. For instance, doctors must attend medical school. Many scientific research positions require candidates to have a master’s degree or even a doctorate degree.

Regardless of what discipline of science a student chooses to pursue, he or she will likely complete coursework in mathematics as well as major disciplines of science, such as biology, physics and chemistry. Science students will learn how to design, conduct and impartially gather data from experimental research. They must understand how to use the scientific method, the procedures used to uncover new information about the world, when considering a problem.

Though successful scientists usually can earn a good living in whatever discipline of science they have chosen to pursue, both the actual salaries individuals can expect to earn and the job outlook vary across disciplines. Biologists earn a mean annual wage of $76,220, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Chemists earned a median salary of $68,320 per year. Physicists earn a median annual salary of $106,370. If you think logically, enjoy analyzing information to develop a deeper understanding of it and have a strong desire to know why things happen, knowing how to become a scientist could be your first step on the path to a rewarding new career in a dynamic, ever-evolving field.

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