You are currently viewing 5 Things to Know if You’re Trying to Begin a Career in Science
My classmates and I setting up a meteorological mast to perform temperature, radiation, wind, and humidity observations during a field practicum that was a core requirement for graduate students pursuing a career in atmospheric sciences in Germany in the late 1980s.

What makes the world go around? Money, as the song says. Love, as countless songs, poems, books, and movies suggest. Art, maybe, as it’s something that draws people together in common admiration. How about science? It may be less romantic than the above (although money is only lovely when you’ve got it), but science has made so many things possible and improved lives in so many ways that it is a fine career choice if you have that kind of aptitude. But here are five things to think about.



Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Ladder.


The Science World Never Stands Still

Progress is the name of the game here and there is always a new development to get your head around. That is an exciting thought to a true scientist, because being interested in STEM, learning, analyzing, improving, and innovating are what the scientific brain excels in. If you’re thinking about a career in science, it’s going to be different next year from how it is now.


There is a Whole lot of Studying to Do

New knowledge depends on understanding old knowledge. If you can see why something has worked in the past, or why something hasn’t worked, you’re in a good position to improve or even invent. Solutions are the currency of the scientist. Whether see yourself ultimately working in research for space travel or as the brains behind a city’s water purification plant, your restless mind will be challenging existing ideas, criticizing current equipment and methods, and you’re going to have to know your subject in depth to a level even lawyers don’t commonly do.

Those denizens of the small print must gain a quick understanding of any given subject, but when they want an expert witness to talk about why something happened in a technical area, often it will be a scientist who takes the stand. Scientists know the facts, the minutiae, and it will often utilize all their learning from college days through their years of experience.


Studying Costs Money

Colleges are not run for entirely altruistic reasons. They must make a profit, and in addition to whatever benefactors may provide input, students are expected to pay for their tuition. That is where student loans come in, and if you are the student in question, why should the bank lend money to you? Because you’re the future, okay. Because you’re good person? They’re not particularly interested in that. What they are interested in is getting their money repaid with interest over a fixed period. If you have never really had an income, even a few dollars a week from an after-school job or a summer delivering pizzas, the bank has nothing to go on: no proof of your character in their limited context.

Therefore, they may insist on you getting a co-signer to take on joint liability so that if you fall down on the repayments, this other person can step in and give the lender what has been agreed. Parents are the obvious candidates for this, if they are willing to do it and have a good credit score themselves. If you’re wondering do parents have to cosign a student loan, our advice is to research a guide that explains the details and look to different lenders to find out what their terms and conditions are.


Scholarships and Grants Can Help You

To help ease the burden on a co-signer, you may be able to get a grant to cover some or all the tuition costs, but you’re still going to need accommodation and general expenses.


You Can Also Help Yourself

If you’re reading this a year or two before college comes around, it’s time to start earning and putting it in the bank and leaving it there. What you accumulate in this way you can use during your college days, as your own contribution to the solution. Even if it’s not a great amount, it will start off your own credit history and put you on the road to a good credit score when you need it in the future, and this will keep coming up throughout your life, so it’s got to be good.


Publisher’s Remarks on a Career in Sciences

I have pursued a career in science. I was one of the few women studying meteorology in the 1980s. In my experience, stipends, scholarships, and paid research experiences as an undergraduate are very helpful. They not only reduce the student loan costs, but also provide a start of your network. Having had a liable person and some savings helped me getting affordable housing.

I was 43 years old when I made the last re-payment of my student loans. All career fields require life-long learning. However, the amount of effort to stay on top of things may be higher in STEM than other careers. You namely need to stay up-to-date on many other skills than those of your research field. For instance, I had to learn live streaming for online classes and conferences. During my career in sciences, I have learned running new models, working on new computer operation systems, new programming languages, and visualization software including setting up webpages. To apply for grants, I needed to teach myself budgeting skills and managing. Furthermore, scientists have to develop skills to be a public speaker.


students in a meteorological field experiment early in their career in sciences
My classmates and I preparing a theater balloon to perform measurements of temperature, humidity and wind at various heights up to 300 m.


Photos of me by my classmates

Featured photo: Some of my classmates and I setting up a meteorological mast to perform temperature, radiation, wind, and humidity observations during a field practicum that was a core requirement for graduate students pursuing a career in atmospheric sciences in Germany in the late 1980s.

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.