what is a scientist?

Scientists explore their curiosity and use scientific activities to understand, describe and predict the happenings in the world. When you are a scientist, you do intense research and experiments to understand the causes and effects of a phenomenon. For instance, scientists research the origins of a species and find evidence of existence and extinction.

As a scientist, you can work in any field related to science, from astronomy to microbiology or animal science. That means you will find a job in companies dealing with research projects or work in hospitals and government institutions to conduct research and expand knowledge on a particular field of study.

what does a scientist do?

The prominent role of a scientist is to explain the natural world using scientific methods. As a scientist, you make an observation and conduct a series of experiments to test the observations. If the results aren't consistent with your hypothesis, you make the appropriate conclusion or present a new idea and test it. A scientist must apply a systematic process when conducting experiments to validate the findings.

Due to the vast roles in science, your employers depend on your field of study. If you are a botanist or zoologist, you spend days in the forest cataloguing plants or animals while an astronomer spends time in observatories and labs.

Would working as a scientist suit your interest in science or quench your curiosity? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a scientist role.

scientist jobs

average salary of a scientist

According to ONS, the average salary of a scientist in the UK is £47,500 per year. At entry-level positions, your earning is £35,698, while experienced scientists earn over £67,500 per year. The compensation packages depend on your field of study and the employer. Most scientists also receive various allowances apart from their salaries. Medical insurance is mandatory in most scientist positions, and some companies provide other allowances like transport and housing. Depending on the project's budget, you can earn a bonus and overtime pay for working extra hours.

how can you increase your salary as a scientist?

The pay structure for scientists varies depending on the field of study and area of expertise. An astronomer is likely to earn more than a zoologist or botanist. Specialisations in physics and chemistry also tend to pay more than other fields. Aside from the area of study, your qualifications and experience also determine your wages. Most scientists have a master's or doctoral degree in their field of study. If you don't have a postgraduate degree, your earnings will reduce.

The company and projects you work on also determine your compensation package. For instance, large companies with complex projects have huge funding and pay their scientists well compared to smaller companies.



types of scientists

A career as a scientist allows you to explore multiple areas of expertise, including:

  • botanist: some scientists focus on plants and study their chemical properties and correlation with other species. As a plant scientist, you research soil erosion, chemical properties or plant medicine. All your studies are aimed at revealing the relationship between plants and animals.
  • physicist: as a scientist, you can focus on exploring energy, matter and other aspects of physics. Physicists often explore the theoretical aspects or conduct experiments to explain physical phenomena.
  • computer scientist: when you are a computer scientist, you test and develop various properties of computer-based systems. You also develop software and computer applications and ensure they perform the expected functions.
  • biologist: as a biologist, your study area focuses on living matters and their interactions in the ecosystem. Biologists can be ecologists, geneticists and marine biologists.


working as a scientist

Scientists work in various fields, making it an exciting career to explore. Read on for details on the specific duties and responsibilities of a scientist and their work environment.


education and skills

Scientists require high educational qualifications to work in various fields. Some of the routes for becoming scientists include:

  • degree: to become a scientist, you need a bachelor's degree in any science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. You can pursue biochemistry, ecology, natural science, physics and microbiology.
  • master's and doctoral degree: unlike other careers, a bachelor's degree isn't sufficient to make you a scientist; you need a master's and postgraduate degree. A master's programme in any science field is valuable, but some employers prefer candidates working towards a doctorate.
  • work experience: when you have a degree, you need experience in research work or lab environments to become a scientist. You can join entry-level positions in research or internships to gain research experience.

skills and competencies

While the specific technical skills depend on the industry you work in, you need the following skills to succeed as a scientist:

  • curiosity: you cannot join a career in science without curiosity. Most scientists are curious about how the natural world works and have a passion for understanding various aspects of nature. Curiosity keeps the passion alive and motivates you to continue with research until you find a satisfactory explanation for a phenomenon.
  • problem-solving skills: scientists often research to solve problems in the world. Hence they need problem-solving skills to think creatively and come up with discoveries that could change the future.
  • organisational ability: as a scientist, you juggle numerous tasks and experiments concurrently. Without organisational skills, you may not accomplish most of the duties. Organisational skills also help you manage your time and complete the reports or experiments on time.
  • project management: as a scientist, you run an entire research project from start to finish. You need project management skills to plan the resources, assign tasks and motivate your team members to work on the project.
  • logical thinking: spending hours researching topics and recording results can be frustrating. Sometimes the hypothesis you formulated at the beginning of the experiment is wrong. It is hard to put aside your feelings and look at the results objectively without logical thinking. If the results are complicated, logical thinking can help you understand the findings.



FAQs about working as a scientist

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