As Scientistas, we know that we love science, but we may not all know what we would like to eventually do with a degree in science. Especially in college, we tend to be exposed to a very limited number of professions that utilize a science degree. In fact, ask most of your science classmates what careers they would like to pursue and the majority will probably answer with “med school”, “academia”, or “industry”. In reality, a science degree can lead to very broad range of career paths. Below are examples of a few “unconventional” careers in science.
1. A Career in Intellectual Property Law
Whether it’s the discovery of a new drug, the invention of a new technology, or the creation of a new computer program, the creator of the new product in all these situations will most likely file a patent for his or idea, especially if he or she would like to develop the idea into a business. So who is in charge of seeing the patent through? Yup, you guessed it – a patent attorney. Unlike lawyers in corporate law, tax law, or public service law, patent lawyers need to have a strong background in science in order to understand their clients’ inventions, describe it in a patent application, and explain science to others in lay terms. According to USA Today, intellectual property law is one of the “hottest niches” in law today, as “demand for these specialists is being driven by an explosion in patent applications in recent years and a growing need for lawyers to protect old patents or challenge new ones.” Especially because a career in academia is becoming a less stable option, a career in intellectual property law can be an equally intellectually stimulating alternative.
Degrees required: Bachelor’s Degree, JD (patent prosecution may also require a PhD)
2. A Career in Medical/Science Illustration
Science education and publication nowadays is involving an increasingly greater number of media forms. From textbooks, to interactive science education websites, to science animations, we’re beginning to see it all! All this wouldn’t be possible without medical illustrators who, according to the Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI), are “professional artist(s) with specialized training and advanced education in medicine, science, art, design, visual technology, media techniques, and in theories related to communication, learning and management.” Medical illustrators work with scientists, medical doctors, and other specialists to “serve as visual translators of complex technical information to support education, medical and bio-scientific research, patient care, patient education, public relations, and marketing objectives.” If you are a Scientista who also loves art, this may be the career path for you. (In case you are not convinced about how awesome medical illustrators can be, check out this animation: http://multimedia.mcb.harvard.edu )
Degrees Required: Bachelor’s Degree (preferably with emphasis in science and art), Master's Degree in Medical Illustration
Do you enjoy writing as much as you enjoy science? If that’s the case, then science journalism may be the career path for you. Science journalists have an especially distinctive role in journalism in that their job is to translate complex scientific ideas and findings into everyday terms so that anyone can understand the ins-and-outs of the science world. This task is more important than it may seem – people tend to be more accepting of scientific advancements when they are more familiar with what they entail (ex. Building particle accelerators), and acceptance of science is partially what drives progress in the field. According to the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, “Science writers [also] play an essential role in advancing the social and political conversation about science by communicating an independent assessment of research discoveries. Their reporting can bring exciting news of remarkable scientific achievements to public attention while informing the public about critical issues to aid ethics and policy debates.” So what publications can science journalists write for? Boston University’s Science and Medical Journalism program website provides a list that includes Smithsonian magazine, National Public Radio, The Boston Globe, Scientific American, CNN, Discover, and Nature. [Of course, the perfect place to start is through a Scientista writing internship!]
Degrees Required: Bachelor’s Degree, Degree of Certificate in Science Writing (but as Science Careers points out, “Whether a person completes a science writing program or not, the world of science publishing is open and available to everyone. Competent writers will fulfill their dream, but they must be willing to work hard and develop a thick skin.”
What alternative STEM careers do you want to learn more about? Leave a comment below!
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Science Illustrated: http://downmagaz.ws/science_magazine/92-science-illustrated-3-4-marchapril-2010-usa.html
Woman writing: Image courtesy of adamr / FreeDigitalPhotos.net