12 Best Careers in Science

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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 12 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 2020 and 2030. 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 for an entry-level job. A doctorate is required to do independent research or work in development.

Median Annual Pay (2021): $102,270

Number of People Employed (2020): 34,800

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 5% (slower than the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 1,600


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 research jobs, but a limited number of positions require only a bachelor's degree.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $79,760

Number of People Employed (2020): 92,400

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 6% (as fast as the average for all occupations)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 6,000


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 (2021): $63,750

Number of People Employed (2020): 39,000

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 7% (as fast as the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 2,900

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, you might need a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $76,530

Number of People Employed (2020): 87,100

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 8% (as fast as the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 7,300

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 (2021): $47,370

Number of People Employed (2020): 34,200

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 11% (faster than the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 3,600

Forensic Scientist

Forensic scientists—also known as forensic science technicians or crime scene investigators—collect and analyze physical evidence. Many employers prefer applicants with bachelor's degrees in fields such as chemistry, biology, or forensic science.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $61,930

Number of People Employed (2020): 17,200

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 16% (much faster than the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 2,700


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 some positions may require a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $83,680

Number of People Employed (2020): 29,000

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 7% (as fast as average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 2,000


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 at least a bachelor's degree, although some employers prefer candidates with a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $84,030

Number of People Employed (2020): 6,500

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 6% (as fast as the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 400

Medical Scientist

Medical scientists research the causes of disease. They also look for ways to prevent and cure them. Most medical scientists have a Ph.D. in biology or similar fields. Some medical scientists get a medical degree instead of a doctorate.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $95,310

Number of People Employed (2020): 133,900

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 17% (much faster than the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 22,600

Computer and Information Research Scientist

Computer and information research scientists research and design computing technology. These scientists typically need a master's degree in a field such as computer science. Federal government jobs in this field may have less stringent education requirements.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $131,490

Number of People Employed (2020): 33,000

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 22% (much faster than the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 7,200

Atmospheric Scientist

Atmospheric scientists study issues relating to weather and the climate. Meteorologists you may see on TV fall into this career category. Atmospheric scientists usually need a bachelor's degree, although research positions typically require a master's degree or doctorate.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $94,570

Number of People Employed (2020): 10,700

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): 8% (as fast as the average)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): 900

Nuclear Technicians

Nuclear technicians assist physicists, engineers, and other high-level scientists with their nuclear research and energy production. Unlike top-level nuclear careers, technicians typically only need an associate's degree to get started. Once working, these professionals will have extensive on-the-job training.

Median Annual Salary (2021): $99,340

Number of People Employed (2020): 6,600

Projected Job Growth (2020-2030): -12% (decline)

Projected Jobs Added (2020-2030): -800

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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Biochemists and Biophysicists."

  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Chemists and Materials Scientists."

  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Conservation Scientists and Foresters."

  4. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Environmental Scientists and Specialists."

  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Environmental Science and Protection Technicians."

  6. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Forensic Science Technicians."

  7. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Geoscientists."

  8. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Hydrologists."

  9. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Medical Scientists."

  10. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Computer and Information Research Scientists."

  11. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists."

  12. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Nuclear Technicians."

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