What do Science Majors Study?
Although science majors may choose to specialize in very distinct fields of study, all science majors learn core critical thinking and statistical skills. A science degree, especially at the undergraduate level, emphasizes the universal process of the scientific method before delving into a particular specialization. As technology increases the need for scientists in a variety of fields, a broader spectrum of college degrees is available to students, in a variety of specialties. Some colleges even offer online science degrees.
Most of a science major's early coursework involves the scientific method of testing theories through reproduction of experiments. As you move through your academic career, your emphasis will shift toward original research and development of new theories and solutions. At the graduate level, science students work directly with professors on critical research projects.
What Jobs Are Hot in Science?
Clinical Laboratory Technician. Chemistry and biology majors can carve out a career in this rapidly growing specialty. Clinical laboratory technicians examine blood, tissue, and other body substances for signs of disease, infection or chemical reactions. Once found only in hospitals, clinical lab techs now work in private laboratories, research facilities, and even in some business settings.On-campus and online training programs for these focused careers typically take two years or less.
With managed healthcare companies shifting their focus to preventative medicine, clinical lab techs play a major role in researching new medicines and testing samples for reactions to treatments. Meanwhile, private companies and law enforcement officials rely more heavily on lab technicians to test for drug use or for other important evidence.
Veterinarians and Veterinary Assistants. A quick look at all the coverage of dog shows and horse racing on television confirms that Americans love animals. Dog and cat owners, especially affluent baby boomers, often care for their furry companions as well as they would care for their own children.
This cultural aspect, combined with advances in veterinary research, means that pets live longer and healthier lives these days. Like their human owners, they will require more advanced care and treatment as they reach higher and higher ages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts stable employment for veterinarians and booming career prospects for qualified assistants. While there are only 28 accredited veterinary schools in the U.S., career colleges and vocational schools across the country offer veterinary technician training. Online programs are available for careers like pet grooming, obedience training and veterinary assisting.
Environmental Scientists. As the reality of climate change has finally become inescapable, the demand for innovative environmental scientists is rising rapidly. Our need to fix problems like global warming, pollution and dwindling natural resources ensures a strong and steady demand for environmental scientists over the coming years.
Academic institutions want to foster innovations in environmental protection and cleanup. Government agencies want to prevent pollution and enforce regulations. And private businesses want to ensure that their production processes not only fall within government guidelines but also promote responsible corporate citizenship. Today's environmental science majors will entertain quality job offers from all three types of employers over the course of their careers.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technician. The focus on preventative healthcare has cultivated so much growth in the drug industry that many companies struggle to keep up with the demand for popular medications. U.S. pharmaceutical companies require a record number of skilled science majors to work in new, state-of-the-art manufacturing plants because the Food and Drug Administration requires them to produce medications in America, but they also export a significant amount of medicine overseas. Pharmaceutical employees enjoy significantly better working conditions and far more lucrative compensation packages than their peers in other manufacturing jobs. With the F.D.A. anticipating 25% growth in this field over the next decade, today's science majors can anticipate strong job opportunities in drug production facilities. Pharmacy technicians and assistants can get career training online.
Why Should You Consider a College Major in Science?
Along with the generally excellent opportunities for scientists in the commercial research and development fields, a career in science offers job seekers the opportunity to make significant contributions to society in the form of scientific discoveries, advancements, and breakthroughs.
While other businesses consistently downsize workers with common skills or send their old jobs overseas, American scientific companies often recruit new scientists from abroad, simply because our economy creates new opportunities for scientists faster than schools can keep up. Not only can science majors expect strong salaries and high levels of job security, the strongest performers in each field can participate in patent applications that earn wide acclaim and spin off significant royalty income for generations.
What Kinds of Candidates Make the Best Science Majors?
Despite the clichés of "whiz kid" high school science prodigies, most professors admit that some of their better science students fly under the radar as quiet, deep thinkers. Although math skills play an important role in a science major's studies, students with challenges in that area can often use calculators and computers to overcome those obstacles.
Technology has reduced the number of barriers for otherwise bright and productive science majors, which means that almost anyone with a love of discovery and the patience to conduct rigorous experiments can gain valuable skills from a science degree.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute surveyed some of America's top scientists to find out what qualities stood out among potential future science majors. The results included traits like:
- Patience and persistence
- Diversity of thought and background
- Strong ability to work in a team
In addition, most colleges and institutions recognize that women and minorities have been traditionally underrepresented in scientific fields. Therefore, many schools aggressively recruit a more diverse array of students by reaching out with community education efforts and endowing significant scholarships.