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Creating Your Career in Science, Engineering, & Technology

Michelle Ajemian
Industry Specialist; Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
(657) 278-3766
miajemian@fullerton.edu

If you are majoring in the field of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Engineering or Technology, you will find that there are limitless possibilities for careers that make an impact on today’s global societies. The Career Specialist will guide you through your career and professional development process as an undergraduate or graduate student.

  • Are you interested in applying science and technology to solve human and society needs but don’t know what career to pursue?
  • Do you find yourself interested in developing efficient computer programs to assist companies or organizations but don’t know what occupation to follow?

Regardless of the academic major you pursue be aware that there is not always a clear parallel between the degree you are studying and an occupational field. Therefore, it is important to be educated on What Can You Do With Your Major and make it work for you. In addition, Exploring Your Career will help to find the occupation that best fits you. Taking career Assessments could be a start to helping you match your interests and skills to occupations. When exploring your career path, you might find that you will need to attend Graduate or Professional School which will require for you to research programs and admission requirements in accredited universities, turn in applications, write a personal statement, and possibly attend interviews to gain admission.

In order to boost your resume you will need to Gain Experience. Consider internships, doing research with professors in their laboratories, volunteering for organizations, or studying abroad to gain experience. Besides boosting your resume, there are many additional benefits to internships such as gaining valuable career related experience, having an opportunity to explore an area of interest, obtaining letters of recommendation, networking and most importantly, it could lead to a job offer.

Many career opportunities are obtained via professional and personal networking, thus you will have to Learn How to Network. One way to network is to join pre-professional student clubs and/ or via professional associations. Finally, in order to be successful as a professional you will need a sharp Resume and Cover Letter, and strong interviewing skills. Come in to the Career Center for assistance in these areas

Below you will find some of the typical industries associated with the majors in the field of Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering.

CAREERS IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS

Natural Sciences and Mathematics is a gateway to a large number of occupations, many of which require very specific course- work for transfer and/or admission to professional schools. The academic challenge, independent reasoning, and critical thinking skills required for these fields provides professional opportunities in a host of industries. 

When you think of science workers, you might picture a chemist in a white lab coat running experiments—and you'd be right. But science goes beyond the laboratory. Scientists are also involved in teamwork, communica­tion, and data analysis. And although many scientists spend time in laboratories, they work in offices, too. Some work outdoors, as when wildlife biologists observe animals in their habitats or geoscientists measure move­ments in the Earth's crust. Scientists design experiments to find out how things work. They conduct or oversee those experiments, ana­lyze the results, and explain what the results mean. They use scientific methods to learn about the world. Many scientists have a bach­elor's degree; often, these scientists work as research assistants or in applied sciences. But for those who focus on research, a doctorate and, possibly, years of postdoc­toral training are usually the minimum requirements.

Mathematicians develop new mathematical theories and tools to solve problems. Some devise or decipher encryption methods to protect confidential information. Many occupations use mathematics. But some occu­pations focus on mathematics almost exclusively. Mathematical occupations usually require a master's or doctoral degree. A notable exception is actuaries, who usually need at least a bachelor's degree and a passing score on an actuarial exam.

As a group, Scientists & Mathematicians earn about 70 percent more than the national average accord­ing to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Every major occupation within this group enjoys overall median earnings that are above the national average. Higher than average earnings are often an indicator of strong demand for workers.

Biology

Biology is the branch of science focused on the study of life. The discipline is dynamic, diverse and expanding with the integration of new molecular approaches, information technology, and concerns for the environment.

Typical Job Titles

  • Agricultural and Space Research Laboratories
  • Biotechnology
  • Education
  • Food Processing
  • Government Agencies
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Municipal Utility Districts (public and private)
  • Museums
  • Park Districts
  • Petrochemical
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Research Foundations
  • Water Districts

Chemistry

Chemistry and Biochemistry provide excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers, inside and outside of the laboratory. Students who major in chemistry and biochemistry are well prepared to enter careers in commerce and industry, biotechnology, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, food and drug administration, quality control, private testing laboratories including forensics, research and development, manufacturing, marketing, management, education, and government.

Typical Job Titles:

  • Biochemical Development Engineers
  • Bioinformatics Specialist
  • Clinical Research Associates
  • Manufacturing Engineers
  • Medical Writers
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Process Development Engineers
  • Quality Control Engineers
  • Research Scientist (R&D)
  • Scientific Programmer Analyst

Physics

Physics is the study of everything natural and is the most fundamental of the sciences. Physicists have an exceptionally wide range of career choices in research, development, consulting, and teaching in the basic and applied areas of physics and engineering. In addition, a degree in physics is excellent preparation for careers in law (particularly patent law), business and finance.

Typical Job Titles:

  • Astronomer
  • Experimental Physicist
  • Geophysicist
  • Military Officer
  • Nuclear Engineer
  • Patent Lawyer
  • Theoretical Physicist
  • University Professor

Geology

Geology is the study of the earth, its physical and chemical com- position and its history. Geologists spend their careers between a rock and a hard place. Geologists say it is a great place to be if your job involves studying rocks, how they were formed, and how they have changed since formation. They use their knowledge of chemistry, physics, math, and biology to analyze data and specimens. Geologists compile the knowledge they have gathered into reports to be used by other scientists and engineers.

Typical Job Titles:

  • Engineering Geologist
  • Geothermal Geologist
  • Marine Geologist
  • Mineralogist
  • Mining Geologist
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Space Geologist

Mathematics

Mathematics is among the most fascinating of all intellectual disciplines and the purest of all art forms. It is a field that combines quantitative reasoning and precision which is used for solving practical problems. Mathematicians have an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to society by helping to solve problems in fields such as medicine, economics, government, management, computer science, physics, psychology, engineering, and social science.

Typical Job Titles:

  • Actuary
  • Business Programmers
  • Economist
  • Educator/Professor
  • Financial Analyst
  • Insurance Sales
  • Scientific Programmer
  • Statistician
  • Systems Analyst
  • Underwriter

CAREERS IN ENGINEERING

Engineers are problem solvers who use their expertise in science and math to do their job. They work in various branches of engineering including:

  • Aerospace
  • Agricultural
  • Biomedical
  • Chemical
  • Civil
  • Computer Hardware
  • Electrical and Electronics
  • Environmental
  • Industrial
  • Materials
  • Mechanical
  • Mining and Geological
  • Nuclear
  • Petroleum

Employment facts  Engineers held 1.5 million jobs, according to 2012 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates. The greatest numbers of these jobs were in electrical and electronic engineering (303,450), civil engineering (262,170), mechanical engineering (258,630) and industrial engineering (230,580).
Source: www.bls.gov/oes/2013/may/oes_nat.htm#17-0000

Educational requirements for engineers To get an entry-level engineering job, one usually needs a bachelor's degree in engineering. Sometimes a bachelor's degree in physical science or mathematics may suffice, especially in high-demand specialties. Generally engineering students specialize in a particular branch of engineering but may eventually work in a related branch. Engineers who offer their services directly to the public must be licensed. These licensed engineers are called Professional Engineers (PE). To become licensed one must have a four year degree and successful completion of a state examination. Requirements vary by state.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

Civil engineers are often described as builders and problem solvers. In their basic role of applying science and technology to meet human needs, these engineers not only develop plans and designs, but also see that projects are carried out through completion.

Typical Industries:

  • Construction
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Public Administration
  • Surface and Rail Transportation
  • Telecommunications

Computer Engineering

Computer engineers specialize in the design, manufacturing, testing, installation, operation, and application of computers, and computer systems. They invent new and efficient ways to solve problems. They may specialize in design and development, test and evaluation, applied research, or technical representation and sales.

Typical Industries 

  • Air Transportation
  • Business Service Centers
  • Educational Services
  • Electronics Product Manufacturing
  • Marketing and Distribution
  • Scientific Research and Development Services
  • Software and Hardware Services/Systems Integration
  • Public Administration
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers work with power and light systems as well as generators, converters, transformers, switches, welding equipment, electrical appliances, computers and power generation or distribution. In addition, they may design, construct, and assist in operating facilities for generating and distributing electrical power for domestic, commercial, and industrial consumption.

Typical Industries

  • Air Transportation
  • Business Service Centers
  • Computer Product Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Education
  • Public Administration
  • Scientific Research and Development
  • Telecommunications
  • Utilities

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers research, develop, plan, and design ma- chines, tools, engines, and other mechanical equipment. They also oversee installation, operation, maintenance, and repair of these equipments.

Typical Industries

  • Computer Product Manufacturing
  • Construction
  • Educational Services
  • Machinery Manufacturing
  • Petroleum Products Manufacturing
  • Public Administration
  • Scientific Research and Development
  • Technical Services
  • Water Transportation

Software Engineering

Software engineers research, design, develop, and implement computer software systems. They design applications that inter- face between software and hardware and with hardware product development to design applications. Software engineering is one of the largest and fastest growing occupations, projected to grow 22 percent from 2012 to 2022.
Source: www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm

Typical Industries

  • Aerospace Product Manufacturing
  • Computer Product Manufacturing
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Intangible Assets Leasing
  • Military
  • Scientific Research and Development
  • Technical Services
  • Telecommunications

Computer Science

A degree in computer science allows access to a wide variety of growing occupations that require proficiency in developing computer programs and the ability to organize problems for computer solutions. The computer industry is one of the fastest growing segments of our economy where growth promises to continue well into the next century.

With a Computer Science degree you will have the opportunity to work in:

  • Consulting
  • Education or Non-Technical areas such as Customer/Product Support
  • the Internet
  • Network Technology
  • Product Development and Project Management
  • Programming
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Systems Development
  • Training

CAREERS IN TECHNOLOGY

This category could include any occupation that requires technical skill, but it usually refers to informa­tion technology or computer-related occupations. Work­ers in these occupations use logic, mathematics, and computer science to make computers function. Some technology workers create new software, design computer systems, and develop databases. Others focus on helping people use computers and on keeping computers running well.

Designing and Developing

Many computer work­ers find ways to make computers more useful. Computer software engineers, for example, create new computer programs or systems. They develop an overall plan for how the program works. They design algorithms that tell the computer how to complete tasks and they figure out how to make software work faster.

Computer programmers often help software engi­neers implement their plans. They write code to tell the computer to do specific tasks. Computer systems analysts help organizations to use computers effectively. They choose computer hardware and software that meet an organization's needs and over­see its computer-related policies and plans. Computer research scientists study advanced com­puter technology. Database analysts design methods of organizing and storing data for quick retrieval.

Helping Users

Other information technology work­ers focus on helping people with computer problems and on keeping computers running smoothly. These workers, called computer support specialists or systems adminis­trators, provide administrative and technical assistance to computer users.

Biotechnology

The biotechnology industry is predicted to be one of the pivotal forces of the 21st century, and has a variety of opportunities for students in the sciences and engineering disciplines. According to the California Employment Development Department, over 32 percent of the more than 1,300 biotechnology firms in the United States are located in California and predicted to generate over 20,000 new jobs. Most of these jobs will be clustered in the San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties as well as the San Fran- cisco Bay Area. Rapid growth is predicted in the biomedical and biopharmaceutical segments. Most of this growth is expected in the areas of diagnostics and therapeutics, with research and development activity and manufacturing. These areas are particularly high compared to other sectors of biotechnology. Career opportunities exist for candidates with bachelor degrees with an emphasis in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, computer science, and engineering.

Focus on Job Functions Rather Than Job Titles:

Often students in engineering, technical, and scientific disciplines associate their career possibilities with their academic major. It is easy to forget that an academic major is largely an administrative tool used by a college or university to categorize students. There is not always a clear parallel between your college degree and an occupational field. For example:

  • Computer Science and Engineering majors can work as analysts in the investment and consulting industries, and apply their technical and analytical skills in capacities other than hands-on science or engineering
  • Jobs can be filled with individuals from a variety of academic backgrounds, or individuals with the same major
  • Chemistry and Biology majors with persuasive skills and out- going personalities are often sought by pharmaceutical and medical device companies for sales positions, which takes advantage of their technical training as they interact with scientifically trained decision makers

Technical Job Search Strategies:

  • Identify the job functions you wish to perform within an organization/company or skills that you wish to use.
  • Communicate this information to potential employers, regard- less of the job title
  • Recognize that job classifications are not standardized, there- fore, do not try to determine your fit among endless lists of job titles, which can be confusing and frustrating
  • Remember that job titles differ within industries and companies
  • Technical skills are necessary, but not sufficient, to compete in the job market
  • Keep in mind that your general skill set, including communication, teamwork, analytical, and critical thinking should also be highlighted on your resume and in your career conversations
  • There are endless opportunities in most industries beyond those that are laboratory or field based, Functions such as sales and operations management
  • Clear presentation of your technical or scientific skills is critical on your resume and during the career conversation, particularly if you are seeking a position which requires a specific set of engineering, scientific or information technology skills; Do not forget projects and relevant course work that can illustrate the depth of your technical training

ONLINE RESOURCES

American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS):
www.aaas.org/

American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE):
www.asee.org/

Sloan Career Cornerstone Center: Explore Careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Computing, and Healthcare:
www.careercornerstone.org/index.htm

Health Career Web: Health Jobs, Career
www.healthcareerweb.com/

College Grad: Job Search, Career Center, Resume Templates,
www.collegegrad.com/

After College: Job/Internship Search, Scholarships
www.aftercollege.com/

Vault Career Intelligence:
www.vault.com/wps/portal/usa

Monster College: Career Profiles, Job/Internship Search
college.monster.com/training