Alternative Careers for Scientists

Wondering what else you can do with your STEM degree? Most students may only consider careers traditionally focused in their area of study when applying to positions after graduation. However, the skills you’ve been developing have utility outside of a traditional role of a bench scientist or researcher as well. If these paths sound unappealing to you, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to put your major and experiences to use. Here are a small sample of the types of opportunities that you may be qualified for:

Product Manager

Product Managers are responsible for taking care of a product from birth to discontinuation. The main goal of a product manager is to make money for the company through numerous marketing activities such as advertising, attending scientific conferences, promotional giveaways and so on. This is a job with many responsibilities, and so organization and ability to lead teams and multi-task are key. While the salary is generous, the work days can extend beyond 8 hours and performance is typically evaluated based on revenues.

Science Copy Writing

Copy writers produce the written material for marketing products or ideas—it is a great job for people who are skilled at and enjoy communicating science through writing. Copy writers help product managers communicate their message to the market about a product via print ads, email blasts, banner ads, webpages, and flyers. There are many opportunities to flex a creative side in writing, but be prepared to deal with deadlines set by the product managers.

Science Journalism

Another type of science writing, Science Journalists will produce content for newspapers, magazines, and websites to name a few platforms. There are opportunities in freelancing, as a staff writer, or employed directly by a publisher. Competition in this field is tough, however Bitesize Bio provides training and opportunities to publish on their website for those interested in this kind of thing.

Field Application Scientist (FAS)

For academic bench scientists looking to move into industry, the FAS is sent to customers interested in purchasing a new product. Working in a customer’s lab, you will demonstrate how well a product works, troubleshoot problems with a product, or teach the lab how to use a complex instrument. You may also install instruments or robotics and maintain their function. Get ready to travel with this one as you will likely be assigned to large territories.

BioTech Sales Representative

Most sales professionals, even some with PhDs, have worked in a lab at some point in their careers. Now they work to ensure that labs have everything they need from their company to operate successfully. You’ll develop expertise in the function of all manner of equipment and instruments with the goal of articulating those advantages to your customers. With experience in a lab, you’ll be able to communicate in a way that your customers understand— this isn’t a skill that a business major necessarily will have.

Want to explore more careers related (or unrelated) to your major? We can help with that! Schedule an appointment with a career coach to investigate the large amount of career options available to STEM and other majors. What’s out there may surprise you!


By Aaron Brutkiewicz
Aaron Brutkiewicz Graduate Intern & Career Coach Aaron Brutkiewicz