What Can I Do With My Science Degree?

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We all know how important science is. It is our core, our nature, our very existence, and connects each and every person and thing on this planet.

Science explains why our bodies react the way they do, why plants are green and why sticking your finger in a socket will make you look like Cousin Itt (and feel even worse). But what can you do with an entire science degree? A lot.

“Geology won because I decided rocks were more interesting than trees… I intended to return to science when I completed my master’s degree, but realized I loved writing more.” –Virginia Heffernan, Principal of GeoPen Communications

There is a hands-on factor built into many science programs (think of your high school chemistry lab, but more intense). You may have heard a science student refer to their “clinical” or proclaim excitedly that they were present to deliver a baby.

If you haven’t reached this point in your program yet (or if the very thought of baby-delivering makes you queasy), get off campus and apply to volunteer at a

  • hospital,
  • nursing home,
  • animal shelter or
  • therapy office, depending on the area of science you’re most interested in.

Find out whether you like being part of a team or going solo, or whether you like working with kids (try a camp), infants (day care) or adults (perhaps a nursing home). This is a great way to sample different science departments and find the one that’s right for you before you commit to a lifetime studying amoeba or staring through scopes.

If you decide a job in the science field isn’t for you, don’t worry: you have plenty of transferable skills that could take you in new directions. Below, you will find that one woman utilized her geology and environmental studies background to branch out into writing.

You, as a science student, enjoy a thirst for knowledge and curiosity for life; understand how the world functions and how processes work; and possess a keen eye for detail.  These are great skills that will take you in any direction you wish to goeven if that isn’t towards becoming Dr. McDreamy.

Related jobs: astronaut, doctor, electrician, engineer, geologist, mechanic, nurse, professor, research scientist, science writer, surgeon, veterinarian, zoo keeper

Related fields: anatomy, animal health, astronomy, automotive industry, biology, chemistry, earth science, forestry, geology, health care, kinesiology, physics, psychology, zoology

Vatche Deyirmenjian

Lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto

BSc in Physics, University of Toronto
PhD in Physics, University of Cambridge

I completed the above degrees in order to better understand physics. I enjoy thinking about the concepts of physics and making connections with experiments.

I am a lecturer in the department of physics at the University of Toronto. My degrees have allowed me to present undergraduate and graduate courses and pursue research in condensed matter and optics. I appreciate the opportunity to share physics with specialists. I also teach non-scientists who are interested in the central ideas of physics, such as chaos and quantum mechanics.

Jennifer Boots

BSc in nursing student at Trent University

Honours BHSc, University of Western Ontario

I first went into Western for science, thinking I would maybe become a doctor. I realized it wasn’t for me, so I switched to health science, which was a stream more focused on the study of health and people. It suited my personality and interests much more.

In my fourth year, I decided to become a teacher, but I was also thinking about becoming a nurse. I really could not stop thinking about nursing and I always knew I wanted to work in a hospital, so I decided to go for it!

It is kind of a long route, with a four-year degree and then completing a compressed program (which puts me in school in the summer).

My desired job—to become a nurse—is completely related to my field. My first degree prepared me by teaching me how to study. It also gave me a lot of background information on anatomy, physiology and biology while allowing for more interesting in-depth courses such as health issues in aging and a palliative care course I took in my fourth year.

Of course, my nursing degree will prepare me by giving me nursing knowledge and practical skills, but I think it depends on the student to get the most out of their degree as well.

Virginia Heffernan

Principal of GeoPen Communications

Honours BSc in Geology, Queen’s University
MSc in Environmental Studies, University of Toronto

I studied geology because I wanted to work outdoors, so my undergraduate degree was a toss up between geology and forestry. Geology won because I decided rocks were more interesting than trees.

I went on to complete a master’s in environmental science because I wanted to challenge my brain and see if I could put my undergraduate degree to better use.

After graduating from Queen’s, I worked as a field geologist for four years, mostly looking for gold in Canada and Namibia. Then, at a time when jobs for geologists were scarce, I joined The Northern Miner as a staff writer and loved my job until I got bogged down in the same beat (covering diamond exploration).

I intended to return to science when I completed my master’s degree, but realized I loved writing more and put out my shingle as a freelance writer instead.

My undergraduate degree, and to some extent my graduate degree, is directly related to my current job. I write for newspapers, magazines and corporations mostly about geology, mining and mining investment. Occasionally I will write a story about green technology. Having two science degrees allows me to charge a premium for my expertise and my editors will sometimes send me on site visits overseas to evaluate Canadian prospects there.

Click here to find out what you can do with your degree.

Photo credit: 1604_9 by CIAT on Flickr
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About the author

Marisa Baratta loves writing, especially about topics pertaining to environmental change, animal issues, human rights and health. She loves helping others and wants to make a positive difference in the world. She is always working on publishing her books, which seek to inspire and incite laughter. She has been published in the National Post, t.o. night newspaper and on several online magazines. She completed a BA with a specialization in English and a bilingual certificate before studying Book and Magazine Publishing at Centennial College. She lives with her family and two cats (can you spot one of them in the picture?).