9 Science Careers

Make a difference in the world

Image by Adrian Mangel © The Balance 2019

Imagine a world without scientists. People who work in science careers are responsible for many of the things we, as a society, benefit from every day—ways to prevent and cure diseases, new technology, and strategies to help control climate change.

To prepare for a science career, you will have to study either life or physical science. Life sciences involve learning about living organisms and include subjects like biology, biochemistry, microbiology, zoology, and ecology. Physics, chemistry, astronomy, and geology are all physical sciences, which deal with the study of non-living matter.

Here are nine high paying science careers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S.) predicts that employment in most of these occupations will grow at least as fast as the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026. Many will grow faster or much faster than the average. You may also be interested in learning about STEM careers, health professions, and health technology careers.

Biochemist or Biophysicist

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical properties of living things and biological processes. To work in this field, you will need at least a bachelor's degree in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, or physics. This will qualify you for an entry-level job. A doctorate is required to do independent research or work in development.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $93,280

Number of People Employed (2016): 31,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 11% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 3,600

Chemist

Chemists study chemicals and how they can be used to improve our lives. You will need a master's degree or Ph.D. in chemistry for most jobs, but a limited number of positions require only a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $76,890

Number of People Employed (2016): 88,300

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 6% (as fast as the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 5,700

Conservationist

Conservationists help landowners and governments find ways to protect natural resources such as soil and water. To get a job in this field, you will have to earn a bachelor's degree in ecology, natural resource management, agriculture, biology, or environmental science.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $61,310

Number of People Employed (2016): 22,300

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 6% (as fast as the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 1,400

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists identify, reduce, and eradicate pollutants and other hazards that threaten the environment or the population's health. You can get an entry-level job with a bachelor's degree in environmental science, biology, engineering, chemistry, or physics, but if you hope to advance, a master's degree is necessary.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $71,130

Number of People Employed (2016): 89,500

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 11% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 9,900

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Environmental science and protection technicians—sometimes called environment technicians—monitor the environment and investigate sources of pollution and work under environmental scientists' supervision. You will have to earn an associate degree or a certificate in applied science or science-related technology, but some jobs require a bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $46,170

Number of People Employed (2016): 34,600

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 12% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 4,200

Forensic Scientist

Forensic scientists—also known as forensic science technicians or crime scene investigators—collect and analyze physical evidence. Many employers prefer applicants who have at least two years of specialized training or an associate degree in applied science or science-related technology. Others will only hire those who have bachelor's degrees in chemistry, biology, or forensic science.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $58,230

Number of People Employed (2016): 15,400

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 17% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 2,600

Geoscientist

Geoscientists search for natural resources or help environmental scientists clean up the environment. To get an entry-level research position you will need at least a bachelor's degree in geoscience or earth science, but most research positions require a doctorate.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $91,130

Number of People Employed (2016): 32,000

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 14% (much faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 4,500

Hydrologist

Hydrologists study bodies of water, both on the earth's surface and underground. They look at their circulation, distribution, and physical properties. To work in this field, you will need a master's degree in geoscience, environmental science, or engineering with a concentration in hydrology or water sciences.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $79,370

Number of People Employed (2016): 6,700

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 10% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 700

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists do research to determine the causes of disease. They also look for ways to prevent and cure them. To work as a medical scientist, you will need a doctorate in a biological science, a medical degree (M.D.), or both.

Median Annual Salary (2018): $84,810

Number of People Employed (2016): 120,000

Projected Job Growth (2016-2026): 13% (faster than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2016-2026): 16,100

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2017 and Occupational Employment Statistics, 2018.