Science Degree: Not Just for Doctors and Scientists Anymore

Most people assume that a science degree is only meant for those folks who plan to get a Ph.D. in science or go to medical school. What might surprise you is that a science degree actually is a MAJOR advantage in a lot more career fields than you think.

When an employer sees that you have a B.S. – the ironic name of the degree they give science students for all of their hard work – they usually make the assumption that you are a capable, critical thinker, which bodes well for you in the job-seeking process. Even more, the science-related job field is growing… more and more jobs are being created in that sector. What does that mean? If you do enjoy science but not to the extent that you wan to spend the rest of your existence alone in a room with specimens and pipettes, there are lots of fun careers in science popping up. Plus, it’s not just jobs that a B.S. can help you with; a science degree also prepares you for advanced degrees in more areas than you realize.

Bottom line? A science degree can be super helpful career-wise.

First, let’s delve into exactly where a science degree positions you to continue your studies.

1. Master (or Doctor) of Public Health

Public health is about the big picture ways to improve health and health care both stateside and abroad. Have you ever been interested in traveling to Peru and helping build the healthcare infrastructure of a rural community there?

Secretary Clinton and President Obama have said that the end of AIDS is indeed soon possible. Interested in implementing the strategies needed to cull the disease? And Nicholas Kristof believes empowering women is the key to ending poverty and oftentimes writes about the disenfranchisement of women in his New York Times column. Want to study maternal and child health?

A public health degree is dynamic and growing more and more useful as this fascinating field continues to expand. A science background will help you understand public health principles and gain admission to graduate school in public health.

2. Physician Assistant Master’s Program

Physician Assistants (PAs) pretty much have the same responsibilities as a physician, but they have the added benefit of having a physician’s supervision. So, they get to care for patients or assist in surgery, and let the doctor worry about the pesky malpractice issue. I should also mention that PA programs take about two years of schooling in addition to undergrad compared to the additional 7 to 10 years it takes to become a practicing physician.

Of course, just like for a doctor, a strong science background gives you the foundation you need to thrive as PA and gain entrance to a PA program.

3. Master of Science (in Healthcare Quality, Clinical Research, etc.)

Healthcare delivery has gotten REALLY complicated. Today, we’re dealing with how to improve the quality of health care services and the cost-efficiency of health care systems.

In an M.S. program, you will learn the analytic tools and develop policy needed to answer the burning questions related to health care delivery.

4. Master of Science in Nursing (Adult Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, etc.)

You may be interested in advanced study to pursue a career in nursing, clinical care, and health policy. And to get there? Yup, you guessed it – a science foundation (and degree!) is the way to go.

5. Healthcare/Life Sciences Consulting

No one really knows what consulting is but it can be fun and it pays well!

With the new healthcare law, companies are hiring smart consultants to help them understand the changes to the health care system.  With the growing array of complicated, life sciences technology coming about, consultants are needed in that area as well.

A consulting job involves lots of learning and a science background will prepare you for the work demands.

6. Pharmaceutical/Biotech Companies (Pfizer)

There are also lots of opportunities in research at pharmaceutical companies and design at biotechnology companies. There is research in nutrition and animal health, along with opportunities in policy and business operations.

7. Healthcare and Medical Technology Products (Johnson & Johnson, Unilever)

There are lots of research opportunities available with companies, like Johnson & Johnson. You investigate the safety and effectiveness of products used in every-day life and operating rooms and laboratories. But, there are opportunities outside of research. You can be involved in other aspects of the company, like marketing and product development.

8. Research & Policy Institutes (Rand Corporation, Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Brookings Institution)

A science background can also help with policy research. At places, like Brookings and Rand, there are research opportunities in global health, domestic health policy, and healthcare law.

So, yeah, a B.S. is for more than those pre-med kids, and having one can (and will!) open a lot of doors for you. If you like science, this is definitely a smart major to pursue!

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