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Science Careers

¨  Career in Archaeology
¨  How long does it take to become an archaeologist?
¨  How do I get into the biotechnology field?
¨  How long does it take to study biochemistry?
¨  Grades and scholarships to get into biochemistry
¨  Admission requirements for the EAS program at the University of Alberta
¨  What do I need to become an astronaut or astronomer?
¨  Best facility in the US to study physiology
¨  Please tell me what career should I choose. I am doing my +1 in science.
¨  What is the average expected salary if you take biotechnology?
¨  What is the difference between a chemistry and a chemical engineering?
¨  What courses should I take to prepare me for chemistry?
¨  How much does an archaeologist make?
¨  What are the career opportunities in planetary geology?
¨  I am close to completing my degree in physics and have no idea what careers I should look into.
¨  Advice about a career in Marine Biology
¨  What do I have to do and go through to become a CSI person?
¨  What do I need to become a rocket scientist?
¨  Can a marine biologist work and avoid contact with sharks?

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What is the starting salary for an archaeologist?  What math is required?  What is the minimum and maximum requirement?  At what age do most archaeologists start working?

ANSWER from Dana Harper on 26 September 2003:
The type of salary can vary but make sure you at least get minimum wage.  I volunteered for a project when I was 16 so I could learn about archaeology and see if that is really what I wanted and of course it was, then I could not wait to start my undergraduate degree!

The minimum amount of math should be Geometry or Algebra/Trigonometry and maximum calculus.

I was 16 when I started but if you start that young make sure you do your homework and you know the working conditions and connected to a good and well-known company or university.  Mine was with a university.

Dana Harper
Nevada, USA

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How long does it take to become an archaeologist?

ANSWER from Dana Harper on 20 May 2005:
To answer the question on how long does it take to become an archaeologist, I would first say real quick a 4 year degree.  However, that would barely open the door to employers wanting to hire you.  I would suggest an archaeological field school and one that provides credits.  I would also do the field school in the geographical location you would like to work in the future.  For example, I was born in Washington but I knew I wanted to work in Arizona or New Mexico so my field school training was in New Mexico.  I also would look for a field school that teaches you how to do archaeological survey, Culutral Resources Management, archaeological field work in historical or prehistorical field work, lab work, and writing up the site records afterwards.  Then BA or BS will allow the flexibility to be a dig bum, which is traveling from different work sites and gain good hands-on experience.  However, if you want to get better pay and have a more steady house of residence then it is time for your Masters.  Then you really become an archaeologist.  PhD gives you the chance to teach archaeology but you do not spend as much time in the the dirt and grime, more behind a shiny computer at a desk.  So to sum it up, you need a 4 year degree plus 2 to 3 years of actually working for a company or many companies.  That would be the best to be well rounded in archaeology.  Good digging!

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I am interested in taking bio-technology after 12th.  Please guide and make me aware of the course better.

ANSWER from Bonnie Walters on 15 September 2005:
Biotechnology includes the industrial use of living organisms or biological techniques developed through basic research.  Biotechnology products include antibiotics, insulin, interferon, recombinant DNA, and techniques such as waste recycling.  Much older forms of biotechnology include breadmaking, cheesemaking and brewing wine and beer.

There are four year programs at various universities where you can get a Bachelor of Sciences in Biotechnology.  You will be taking many courses in sciences, math, and technology.  Your high school counselor should be most helpful to you when picking a career or deciding on schools.

Many technician careers can also be obtained at junior colleges.  Careers such as radiation technician, nursing, respiratory therapist, laboratory technicians take only two years to complete.  You will receive an AS degree and can also take some of the courses on-line.  Again, your career counselor is the person to ask.

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I want to study biochemistry.  How long does it take to study it?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 31 December 2004:
A BSc in Biochemistry, like most "standard" science degrees, should take 4 years to complete after high school.  Biochemistry students take a good combination of biology and biochem courses, as well as organic and energetic aspects of chemistry.

Take a look at this website:

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I am going to sit for my high school exams.  What grades are usually necessary for me to get into biology or chemistry in university?  Does your university offer scholarships?  I am basicaly good at sports and people told me that I could get a scholarship for that.  I am really interested in doing biochem.

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 1 January 2005:
In which country are you located?  I do not know about the system in the US, if that's where you are.  For my school, you really have to have an honours standing (80%+) to get into a science program.  Because biochemistry is quite popular, the average is probably higher.  It depends on the school, so browse through university websites and you should find the admission requirements.

Please try to do very well in biology, chemistry AND physics, if you intend to be a biochemist.  I say physics because it really helps to have a good background in it to understand WHY reactions or processes happen in the body.  Biochemists need to know about thermodynamics and kinetics, so it would be helpful not to be totally oblivious to physics.  Certainly, it does not have to be your strength, but don't entirely ignore it.  I know some people who have taken biochem and they say it is a lot of memorization (at least in the first year).  The first-year bio and chem courses are much like high school.  That starts to change as you progress.  You must enjoy (or at least tolerate) the many labs that you must do.  I thought some were fun, but the write-ups can get very intensive.

To tell you the truth, I doubt being good in sports is going to help you much in getting into biochem.  Strive for some scholarships, yes, but try to get an academic scholarship, especially for a school good in the sciences.  Yes, my university offers scholarships.  Note that many scholarships require excellent marks in English as well.

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I live in Edmonton and was planning on attending the University of Alberta and doing their Earth and Atmostpheric Sciences program.  I was just curious about what specific courses I need for that.  Should I take calculus this year?  Do I need to take biology or chemistry?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 11 September 2004:
If you are in high school, please consult the UofA's Calendar at:
http://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/calendar/ for information about admission to a program, and what that program entails.

For example, if you go to: http://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/calendar/Admission/Requirements-by-Faculty/15.16.html, this lists the requirements for a BSc General program, which you can major in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.  So it gives you a choice of taking TWO of Math 31, Bio 30, Chem 30 and Physics 30.  I would try to take all of them, but I would make a priority Chem 30 and Physics 30 if you want to go into EAS.

If you should decide to go into a Specialization or Honours program in geology, environmental earth science, atmospheric science, or some other EAS program, see "Admission Chart 5" for the specific requirements for that program.  If you happen to want to specialize in Atmospheric Sciences, you should try to get a good background in physics since there are some pretty tough physics you need to learn.

Take a look at: http://www.registrar.ualberta.ca/calendar/Undergrad/Science/index.html for what you would expect should you go into the Faculty of Science.

I've had the opportunity to take some courses in the EAS department and they were pretty interesting.  You get a good dose of lectures and hands-on labs.  If you want more information about the EAS programs, consult the appropriate advisor by browsing through: http://www.science.ualberta.ca/

After you get into university, ask some of the profs to see if they are looking for any undergrad research students.  This is an opportune time to learn about something you like.  If you can get a summer research job, you will learn a lot of neat stuff, and the fun thing is that there aren't any exams!

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I have completed my 12th class.  Now I am going to study B.E. engineering, taking computer science as my major subject.  Would you just tell me what I should do after getting an engineering degree to become an astronaut or astronomer.

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 30 September 2005:
It would be more appropriate to ask your Advisor or Guidance Counselor at the University.  As well, since you are going to start your graduate studies in community counseling, you will be able to meet more people working in this specific field.  Ask around - you will get more detailed information.

Our experts cannot provide the range of income.  Not only in community counseling but also in any profession, the income varies depending on many factors, such as the job description, hours, location, work environment, and person's ability.

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I am doing into a specialised physiology field and after completing a doctorate and hopefully professorship, I cannot wait to try in the US work in the Human Factors field.  Where is the best facility to study the required physiology material?  What are the chances of eventually getting into either NASA or Human Factors?

ANSWER from Dean Davis on 13 September 2004:
Sorry, but I'm not an expert as to what is the best school for human factors.  In my opinion, there is no "best" university or college to study physiology with respect to human factors, but there are many great schools around the world which feed our human factors and space medicine professions.  I would suggest choosing a university with an engineering school which ties physiology with human-machine interfaces.  The choice of school is not as important as the coursework in human factors.  You also should get background in human psychology, anthropomorphics, and safety engineering in your training.  These are things I look for in a human factors candidate.

As far as your chances of getting into either NASA or human factors, I would say they are quite high depending on your educational coursework and NASA needs at the time you apply.  One problem which you may have to overcome is your citizenship.  NASA prefers to hire United States citizens.  By the way, human factors engineering is employed internationally by every system which involves human interaction with machines...from human reactions to computer software displays to how a person fits in a car.  Thus, you have an extremely high probability of getting into the human factors field.  Please also understand that 99% of all "NASA" work is performed by aerospace contractors from around the world, so you don't have to work at NASA to work for NASA.  I am a perfect example of that.  NASA couldn't afford me, since I make more money than the Director of NASA.

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Please tell me what career should I choose.  I am doing my +1 in science.

ANSWER from Imagiverse Team on 27 December 2005:
The career that you choose should be something that you enjoy and that you would love to do for the rest of your life.  If you are in a situation where you are free to choose, go for your passion.  I don't know what you mean by +1 in science group.  If you mean you are good at the sciences, then please research some jobs related to that on the Internet, or ask your teacher or local colleges.  Read through our interviews at: http://www.imagiverse.org/interviews/ to look at some select few careers. The power of the Internet is that you have so much information available to you. Ask people that are in those professions about their career and lifestyle.  Ask them about their daily work routine, their favorite part of their job, their worst, etc.  That will give you a bit of an insight whether you'd like to have this as a career.  Study hard and good luck.

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What is the average expected salary if you take biotechnology?

ANSWER from Roger Herzler on 28 December 2005:
If you're in the United States you should consult with the Bureau of Labor Statistics website for information on average salaries.  It will vary with your area and expertise/experience.

Here are a couple of useful websites to get you started:

Bureau of Labor Statistics article on biotechnology

BLS National Compensation Survey (Searchable)

Additionally, don't hesitate to read the career related questions that have already been answered by Imagiverse volunteers.  You can get a common thread in many of them.

Finally: You should get a good idea what you want to do and discuss it with people doing that in your area.  "Biotechnology" is a very wide field of study.  You'll get insight into what eductation you need, plus you'll get an idea of the salaries in your local area.  Salaries vary widely from place to place.

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What is the difference between a chemistry career and a chemical engineer?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 11 January 2006:
This is commonly-asked question.  Do not equate chemical engineering with chemistry.  Chemical engineering does involve chemistry, but its main focus is "process-control".  For example, what are the processes involved to manufacture a product from raw materials to end-product (thermodynamics is very important)?  You can search on the Internet for more information on that.  If you are interested in chemistry and engineering, investigate further into it, and also investigate the field of "materials engineering".

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I would like a career related to chemistry but I don't know what high school courses I should take to prepare.  What do you recommend?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 11 January 2006:
A chemist should be well-versed in the sciences.  Try to take as many sciences as you can, especially chemistry and physics.  Chemistry is obvious, but physics is very important as well and will probably make up a good portion of your university studies.  You say you want a career "related" to chemistry.  There are many fields related to chemistry and they employ chemists and other people with a chemistry background, so a good broad education in high school.  Here are a few interdisciplinary areas for example:

This appears to be a very popular field at the moment.  There are countless chemical processes happening in biological systems.  Biochemists apply chemical techniques to investigate these systems.

Computational Chemistry
Uses existing computer programs as well as writing your own to solve chemical problems to provide theoretical explanations to experiments, or to create models which then can be later verified by experiments.

The organic and inorganic processes happening in the Earth are affected by temperature, chemical concentrations, pressure, hydration, etc.  Especially when you look at the small-scale (mineralogical properties), a chemical background is good.

This is a very general category.  People from all fields of science and engineering work on many nanoscale problems.  A rapidly-expanding field.

Theoretical Chemistry
These people use physics to explain chemical phenomena.  What are the fundamental "forces" that make a chemical bond?  What do the physical bonds look like?

So, here are a few ideas.

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How much money can an archaeologist make as a curator and/or professor in college?

ANSWER from Dana Harper on 3 May 2006:
An archaeologist makes about $40,000 a year as a curator but as full time professor can make $50,000 a year.

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My child would like to become a geologist.  What are the job opportunities as far as the Moon and other planets go?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 23 May 2006:
Planetary geology is a growing field as more spacecraft visit other moons and planets.  Right now, there are spacecraft currently at or orbiting Venus, Mars, the Saturnian system and the moon.  There is also a mission headed towards Pluto and one headed towards a comet.  Samples of interstellar and cometary dust have also recently been collected and returned to Earth.

Planetary geologists generally enter the field of geology where they later on specialize in planetary science.  Most get PhDs.  As seen from the list above, planetary scientists are busy with various subjects in the field.  Mars exploration has grown tremendously over the last decade.  In the future, the moon might become a hot topic because there are many countries that intend to send robotic and human missions there over the next few decades.

If you haven't already, take a look at some profiles of people working in the Mars program.

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I am close to completing my degree in physics and have no idea what careers I should look into.  Can you help?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 19 July 2006:
Well, do you have some idea of what you'd like to do for the rest of your life?  An undergraduate degree in physics provides you a good basic background in the physical sciences, math and the ability to think analytically and logically.  Depending on the focus of your degree, you might be suitable to work as a technical consultant, a computer expert, a teacher (with additional training), an informal educator, businessperson, etc.  It really depends on your expertise in other areas and how your scientific background will enhance it.  To stay "doing" physics, one really needs to get a graduate degree.  You might be okay to get a Master's to be a lab technician, a physics instructor or something that requires more technical expertise.  But to conduct physics research, you need to get a doctorate.  My advice is if you want to go out into the workforce right away (after your undergrad), make sure you have good competency in an alternate subject area (not necessarily in the sciences).  A physics degree gives you a rigourous training in the sciences and the basis to be a successful in many careers, but often without supplementing your education or experience, you might not have enough "practical" experience to get hired.  Good luck.

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I am considering a career in Marine Biology.  Ever since I was young I have been interested in marine life and scuba diving.  I was wondering you could give some advice on this area.  I would like to learn and discover more about sea creatures, coral and the ocean in general.

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 20 December 2006:
Good to hear from you and I hope you are enjoying your holiday season.  I became a marine biologist for many of the same reasons you have.  I think the most important things to learn relate to having a good background in science.  Ocean critters are a small part of biology in general, the ocean itself runs on basic principles of physics and chemistry and doing any type of experiment depends on mathematics to calculate what really happened in your experiment.  Soooo, math, physics, chemistry are important and of course biology is fun, intersting and where the action is.

The web is an infinite source of information and guidance so pursue what you find most fascinating and do your homework.  My web site has some fun stuff on coral reefs - www.rcmurph.com as does our OCEAN FUTURES WEB SITE - WWW.oceanfutures.org.

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What do I have to do and go through to become a CSI person?

ANSWER from Imagiverse on 17 January 2007:
If you mean someone who does forensic science like on CSI, set your sights on studying the sciences and anthropology.  You would have to study to become a physical anthropologist (anthropologists that study the human body).  Eventually, you'd be able to study specifically in forensic anthropology.  Your education would involve a lot of anthropology, biology, chemistry and lots of lab work.  Check out some universities' websites about physical and/or forensic anthropology degrees.

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Good day, I am a high school student in Australia and it is my dream to be a rocket scientist.  Though, I'm not sure how to make my dream to come true.  What do I have to be good at?  Do I have to go to university in America?  How good is the pay and how long do you have to work?

ANSWER from Stephanie Wong on 12 February 2007:
To work on rockets and in the space program, you can have a variety of jobs!  To be the people that design spacecraft/rockets, you need to become an engineer.  It doesn't matter what kind of engineering you go into (because it takes many experts in many different fields to make a spacecraft), but aerospace engineering is a program that deals specifically with space and aviation "stuff".  You need to be relatively competent in the math and sciences, since this is the "language" that you use to design and test machines.  In high school, take as much math as possible, especially calculus.  Of the sciences, chemistry and physics would be the most important.  In today's age, having the ability to computer program would be asset even prior to your formal studies.

In addition to engineering, there are other scientists who work in the space program.  For example, there are people who have to be able to model and plot out the trajectories the spacecraft have to take.  There are computer programmers who write the software code which perform the commands sent to the spacecraft, etc., etc.  Technicians are people who don't necessarily have a full engineering degree, but are people trained in doing the hands-on work, operating machinery and putting together spacecraft (as opposed to an engineer whose bulk of the work is "pen-and-paper".

No, you do not have to be in the US to work on rockets, although a large amount of the work done in the space program is in the US.  However, many other countries have their own space program where they design their own rockets, spacecraft, satellites and robotics.

The pay depends on what your position is and at which company/organization you work for.  Work hours are also variable.  If a mission about to launch, then of course the workload will increase exponentially.

If you have anymore specific questions, please submit another question and I (or one of the "rocket scientist" experts we have will gladly answer.

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I’m 12 years old and was wondering how to work as a marine biologist but not be near sharks.  They kinda scare me.

ANSWER from Richard Murphy on 9 March 2007:
Good question and I used to wonder about what I might do as a marine biologist.  Most marine biologists don't study sharks, some study whales, shrimp, ocean algae, sponges for new drugs, or farming fish.  Sharks can be scary but remember there are over 350 species and less than 15 species can be harmful to people.  Lions, tigers, rhinos and many other creatures can be harmful but they seldom harm people because most people give them respect and space so they can do their thing while we do our thing in our space.  I wish you well in your studies and your future career as a scientist.

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Last Updated:
11 July 2007

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