How To Become A Scientist
Is it really difficult to become a scientist? Actually, it depends on the path you choose and how you succeed in it.
To some people it is difficult, to others it doesn’t seem to be because science isn’t all that rosy.
To become a scientist, you need to at least take biology, physical science, mathematics and also be good at them.
There are lots of career paths for you to choose from. It depends on what you enjoy the most.
Becoming a scientist could provide you with lots of awesome experiences.
But you got to focus on your education and look at the world as a scientist.
In this article, we will be looking at what a scientist is, what their role is and how to become one.
Table of Contents
Who is a Scientist?
A scientist is someone who conducts science-based research to advance his knowledge.
A professional who gathers research to make hypotheses, tests them using statistics and data, gains knowledge and with the evidence, forms a conclusion.
Almost every industry needs the research performed by this specialist as there are different types of scientists.
What Do Scientists Do?
Scientists aim to find data through testing methods. One of the commonly used methods is the scientific method. Basically, the procedure is used to get evidence-based on a hypothesis.
For the scientific method, below are the steps a scientist takes,
• They make an observation
• They ask questions concerning the observation
• They gather information
• Create a hypothesis in which assumptions of the observation are described and predictions made.
• Test the hypothesis through an approach that can be recreated.
• Analyze data drawn from testing, then the original hypotheses could be accepted or rejected
• Until test and observation align, the test is replicated by the scientists
In every scientific situation, this process is completed. For instance, a scientist may either form a hypothesis that is related to changing human behaviour and it’s continually tested until it’s proven or not.
The difference between how scientific methods are used is how they are performed.
Skills Required For You To Become A Scientist
Depending on the industry, some skills scientists have may vary as regards this but there are skills most scientists are expected to have to be successful.
Below are some of the skills
When it comes to science, it is more of asking questions, performing tests based on the questions asked.
Being curious is what prompts scientists to always ask questions.
One of the important components of being a successful scientist is to be inquisitive.
With the scientific method, a scientist can be able to identify and test an idea.
You can be able to select variables when testing hypotheses if you have very good problem-solving skills and you can come up with good solutions.
Collecting data and analyzing are constantly what scientists do. And all this must be neatly documented and organized.
For you to remain on top of your statistics and findings, then you need to have good organizational skills as a scientist and efficiently draw conclusions from different pieces.
Communicating your findings effectively is another important component if you want to become a scientist.
Communication skills include both oral and written. For instance, a scientist would prefer to perform a presentation of his findings( oral) or write a research piece that illustrates his experiments and the findings(written).
Several projects are being performed by scientists in order to support their scientific investigations.
No matter where you work as a scientist, whether in the lab or any business industry, you need to plan and effectively execute your projects.
Types of Scientist
Different industries need the help of scientists to organize information that would lead to the success of their industry.
Below are a few of the different types of scientists
This is a scientist that studies plants.
However, there are different types of botanists, there are those who study plant medicine, soil erosion, chemical properties of plants, the interaction of plants with animals and humans, etc.
A botanist should have a degree in biology or botany and can work in remote parts of the world or greenhouses.
A botanist can be referred to as a plant scientist.
Product Development Scientist:
These scientists only specialize in producing new products and enhancing current ones.
Some products that a product development scientist can create are food, drugs, etc. They work in several industries like biotechnology, pharmaceutical science. These scientists have a bachelor’s degree in food science or any field they work in.
They are scientists that study some aspects of physics like matter and energy. We have theoretical and experimental physicists.
Theoretical physicists study the mathematical aspect of physics while experimental physicists study the physical phenomena and analyze experiments related to them.
Biologists are scientists that study life. They explore how several types of living matter function and interact with each other.
Some types of biologists include ecologists, marine biologists, toxicologists, etc.
Some biologists hold masters degrees and also the level of education that is required to be a biologist vary depending on the field.
These scientists study astronomy as their focus is on beings outside earth like the moon, stars, galaxies, etc.
There are different fields an astronomer can specialize in like solar astronomy, etc. Most of them have doctorate degrees in physics or astronomy.
How To Become A Scientist
For you to become a scientist, there are some basic steps to follow.
I will be dividing the steps into three parts.
- Setting the groundwork
- Getting a higher education
- Having the mindset
1. Setting the groundwork:
Taking the preparatory classes in high school:
You need to take classes that would teach you analytical and critical skills if you want to become a scientist.
Consider science camping during high school as you will do more projects than in regular science classes in school.
As a scientist, you need to be able to specialize in mathematics and also need a knowledge of statistics.
Start with the basics in college:
You will need to ground yourself in some basic science courses like biology, chemistry, physics even if you specialize in a particular field.
Based on your areas of interest, you can select elective courses to help you define your speciality.
Also being multilingual helps you collaborate with other scientists and also pursue opportunities in other countries.
Declare your major in a field that intrigues you:
Declare a major in a specific field after you have got familiar with the field to take.
Get an internship in college:
You can contact your professor for internship programs as you can get your name published on paper by your team.
It’s okay to start making connections and start working without hassle.
This will help you gather experience as it will be helpful to you once you graduate and start looking for jobs.
You can pursue an internship with an organization that is related to your field.
Hone your writing skills:
As a scientist, you will need to learn to write well to obtain grants or publish your results in scientific journals.
To hone your skills, you need to attend classes in technical writing and English.
2. Get a higher education:
Go to a graduate school:
Some of the scientists have masters or doctorate degrees. Even though most commercial positions are available for graduates with bachelor’s degrees.
The graduate programs are geared towards working with a professor, developing new ideas or theories. Also, this program takes 4 years or more.
Land a research internship anywhere :
While in grad school, you will have to look for an internship in your area of interest.
The number of professors doing what interests you could be few, this is why you would need to go somewhere else to look for it.
Your school could help you find where internships are. So dive into all your connections to find where suits you.
Participate in a post-doctorate program:
In whatever speciality you have chosen as a scientist, post-doctoral programs provide training in it.
The program now lasts for at least 4 years or more depending on your field of study. Though originally, it lasted for 2 years.
Just to add, you would be doing 3 years of postdoctoral research after this program.
You would go for 4 years as an undergrad, 5 years of higher learning and 3 years of research, which makes it 12 years of solid training.
Though you would be given a stipend after your undergraduate studies to take you through the remaining training.
Keep your knowledge updated:
It’s of utmost importance to keep yourself up to date in your field or related courses by reading books, like peer-reviewed journals, attending seminars and conferences, etc.
Through the journals, you could get to know some people to ask for help during research when you need them.
Continue to research and seek full-time employment:
When it comes to projects and ideas, scientists are working tirelessly to get results no matter how far they have gone in their careers.
But you will need a job after your post-doctoral program and there are a few opportunities to find:
A science teacher:
Depending on the level you want to teach, you would need some educational credits. This is entirely explanatory as it might not need an upper educational level.
Clinical research scientist:
You can become a scientist working with a company. You could be a clinical research associate for a start.
You can work on emerging medications, monitor procedures to ensure everything is up to date.
Analyse projects you are working on like developing vaccines or working with physicians, technicians about laboratory procedures.
To become a professor it’s the dream of most scientists as It is a high-paying gig and you are also job secured.
Though it could take years to get to this level.
3. Having the Mindset:
A lot of people become scientists today because they are curious about the world and how things work.
They are seen investigating the why and how of things behind what they see.
Even if it takes years, they will keep investigating because they are curious. Adding to this, they are always open to new ideas.
Be patient in climbing the career ladder:
It takes a longer period to become a scientist though there are careers that take quite a long time.
Even after your education, you still have the research training program to go for.
This might not be a very good gig for you if you are someone who isn’t patient and wants it instantly.
Be diligent as you have landed a tough gig:
Some say that jobs in the sciences in the US are the lowest paid. This means that you won’t be living lavishly as you are on a long path to success. You will need to sacrifice as things would get tough after a while.
There are deadlines to meet, working when you have to, and not determining your hours because of your job. This makes it a difficult job at first.
Need to learn:
Be it attending seminars and conferences, reading peer-reviewed journals, or getting yourself published, all a scientist does is to find knowledge. This is why you need to keep learning and studying.
Be patient and think outside the box:
It doesn’t take days, weeks, months, and even years to get a scientist’s work done. This can be dissatisfying as it requires a scientist to be patient. For instance, the results of clinical trials can’t be obtained in years.
In the years of waiting for results, you need to be observant as there could be changes.
As for thinking outside the box, you need to think differently. For instance, think back to when Archimedes jumped into his tub and displaced water. It could seem like nothing but this man saw something else no one was seeing at that time.
- Is it possible for anyone to be a scientist?
College only takes four years to become a scientist. It’s possible to become a scientist right now. Scientists are people who ask a lot of questions about how things work and try to find answers through experimentation and observation. After college, you can sometimes get a PhD with just 5-6 more years.
- How many hours do scientists work?
The average academic week is 37 hours, usually between 9am and 5pm. Some organizations may require you to stay after hours or to come in at weekends to complete experiments, but most offer flexible working arrangements to accommodate this.
To some people, science could come naturally to them while some find it very difficult.
There are some steps not to miss if you want to become a scientist. You need to take some basic courses in high school, decide on which part to take, obtain a degree in your field of interest, go for your research program and also do an internship.
It’s a lot of work, training and study as it takes several years to reach expertise.