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Salary Range
€35k - €75k
Career Zone

In Summary - Scientist

Works in exploration or research in an area such as biology, chemistry, or physics, that deals with the objects, phenomena, or laws of nature and the physical world.

Career Sectors

Scientists typically work in the following Career Sectors:

Environmental Science
Earth & Environment
Earth Science
Earth & Environment
Maths and Your Career
Physics, Mathematics & Space Science

Videos & Interviews

Caitriona Jackman, Planetary Scientist

Caitriona Jackman went to secondary school at Crescent College Comprehensive in Limerick. From there, she did a degree in Applied Physics at the University of Limerick. During that time she did a 9-month co-op placement at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey.  After graduation she moved to the University of Leicester to do a PhD in Planetary Science. She is now working as a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London.

Videos on the Web

Further Information

The Work - Scientist

Scientists find out how things work, often with the aim of solving problems. Experiments and a systematic, logical approach are very important to their investigations. Scientists analyse, measure and observe living things, chemicals, and the physical workings of the Earth and universe.  
 
The three main areas of science are biology, physics and chemistry, but these are inter-linked at many different levels. For example, biochemistry is the study of chemicals in organisms.  
 
Scientists work on research and development projects. Pure (or fundamental) research is the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, and is done mostly in universities, commercial or government organisations.  
 
Applied research is aimed at solving a specific problem. For example: scientists develop new drugs to treat disease; find stronger and lighter materials to make aircraft with; develop vegetarian substitutes for meat; and find ways to try and improve crop yields.  
 
Scientists help provide us with energy and materials for everyday life. They find natural resources like metals, minerals, oil, gas and coal, and develop materials like plastics, glass and textiles. They work with engineers to extract or produce these materials.  
 
Increasingly, scientists are concerned with the impact of human activities on the environment. They may work to protect the environment from pollution, intensive farming, road building schemes, or the sprawl of cities into the countryside. Scientists research and develop alternative sources of energy, for example, from the sun, tides, wind, or heat stored below the Earth's surface.  
 
As well as working in laboratories many scientists travel to collect samples and data. For example, forensic scientists visit crime scenes, and provide evidence in court. And geologists map physical features in remote areas.  
 
Scientist's knowledge of products and processes is used in marketing and sales departments, and scientists may visit customers to listen to their needs or explain the latest developments.

Interests - Scientist

This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:

Investigative

The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.

Realist

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.

Qualities

As a scientist, you must enjoy solving problems. To plan experiments, you need practical skills, but you must also be imaginative and creative. Research and development work can involve routine testing over a long period of time. For example, the process of developing a new drug often takes over ten years, from discovery and testing to commercial availability. You will need to be methodical, well organised and patient, and not mind having to repeat an experiment several times.  
 
Some scientists spend a lot of time on their own, especially during fieldwork. For example, geological scientists map remote areas, and must be prepared to work in difficult terrain.  
 
Scientists often work in teams, so good communication skills are important. You must be able to express your findings clearly, both verbally and in writing.

Entry Requirements - Scientist

Scientists need a good grounding in mathematics. Those in the physical sciences use a great deal of mathematics, particularly algebra, calculus and analytical geometry. Those in the biological sciences will use maths less often. Scientists also need a working knowledge of statistics.

Scientists need a relevant primary degree. Basic courses in biology, chemistry and physics to gain knowledge of the basics of each science, as well as scientific methods such as observing, making hypotheses and experimenting.

Elective courses can be chosen based on your particular areas of interest or to discover new areas of interest - ecxploring these will help with choosing your speciality area later on - Planetary Science; Medical Science; Psychological Sciences; Genetics; Agricultural Science - there are many routes to choose from.

Some commercial and industrial employers will accept graduates with a Bachelor's degree, but most scientists have at least a master's and more likely a doctorate.

While competition for research posts is often very strong, postgraduate programs tend to be geared toward original research and the development of new theories. A qualification at this level will make your work more unique, and your field of competition smaller.  
 
All the major colleges and universities throughout the country offer degree courses in the various science disciplines. Candidates are advised to explore individual course details. 

Last Updated: November, 2014

Pay & Salary - Scientist

Salary Range (thousands per year)* €35k - €75k

Data Source(s):
Morgan McKinley

Last Updated: July, 2015

* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.

Labour Market Updates - Scientist

While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.

National Skills Bulletin 2018

Useful Contacts - Scientist

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