Careers Ireland

Students' embarking on their career journey – Is Féidir linn

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Working in Science

IRISH TIMES and THE INSTITUTE OF GUIDANCE COUNSELLORS
HIGHER OPTIONS CONFERENCE
WORKING IN SCIENCE 2009
SPEAKER: DR ORLA DONOGHUE BSc, PhD
DEFINITION OF CAREER AREA: SCIENCE
TYPICAL DAY:
Working in a lab as an Analyst: Setting up equipment, preparing samples for
analysis, attending lab meetings, running tests, writing reports, analysing data,
troubleshooting and problem solving, writing procedures and attending training
sessions.
Management/Supervisory role: Preparing work schedules, attending and
contributing to meetings, briefing teams, reviewing and writing reports, monitoring
work flows, managing team performance and planning strategies.
Research: Reading and reviewing scientific literature, designing experiments, setting
up experiments, writing up results, analysing data, attending meetings, writing
research papers, presenting talks and posters at conferences.
Business and Finance: Analysing data, meeting clients, evaluating information and
providing guidance and advice to companies on investments.
Environmental Scientist: Visiting sites to check monitoring equipment, calibrating
equipment, carrying out a geological survey or an environmental impact study,
collecting data and samples, analysing data and samples in a lab or at a computer,
writing reports, analysing data, presenting results and meeting with clients.
SKILLS USED IN THE JOB:
Knowledge of subject – An in-depth knowledge of a subject area is key
Practical skills – Depending on the subject area, skills in operating equipment,
running lab procedures, taking measurements at outdoor sites, writing software
programs, managing databases and preparing project plans
Analytical and Numeracy skills – An ability to interpret data, analyse results and
perform statistical calculations
IT Skills – Computer literacy in packages such asMS Office, databases, e-mail and
specialist software tools
Written and oral communication skills – Report writing and delivering
presentations or chairing meetings
Problem solving and troubleshooting – Ability to solve problems and approach
troubleshooting in a logical and practical way
Team player – Ability to use own initiative and work as part of a team
Time management – Plan work each day and work to tight deadlines
REWARDS
Financial – It takes a few years to build up the experience and specific knowledge
required for significant financial rewards.
Job Satisfaction and Excitement – Technology is always changing and there is the
challenge of learning new skills in science-related jobs.
Personal – Pursuing a career in a subject you’re passionate about is very rewarding.
ROUTES OF ENTRY
You can study for a BSc (Honours) degree in Universities such as UCD, TCD, DCU
and UCC and in the Institutes of Technology nationwide. Most Honours degree
Science programmes are 4 years long. An Honours Bachelor degree is NFQ Level 8.
CAREER PATH
The diversity of jobs for Science graduates means that each career path is different.
Many Science graduates take entry level positions in the pharmaceutical,
biotechnology, information technology and banking sectors. After building up their
skills and work experience graduates can then progress to more senior levels within
the same company or move to a different company. For example, within a
biotechnology company, a Laboratory Analyst could be promoted to the position of
Senior Analyst, then to Supervisor, then to Manager and even to Director.
DIFFERENT JOBS IN THE CAREER AREA
Depending on the subject you specialise in, the following are some of the jobs open to
science graduates:
 Analytical Chemist  Secondary School Teacher
 Clinical Research Associate  IT Consultant
 Microbiology Analyst  Validation Scientist
 Environmental Officer  Trainee Actuary
 Trainee Business Analyst  Technical Writer
 Software Engineer  Medical Physicist
POSSIBLE TRANSFER OPTIONS
Science graduates can transfer their skills from one industry to another, for example
from biotechnology to IT or from research to business.
LIMITS
The job market is competitive so having a higher degree such as a Master’s or PhD is
often required to be eligible for some jobs and for some promotional prospects within
companies.
SALARY SCALES
There are many online salary surveys available for Science jobs. You can read a full
salary survey for 2009 on jobs in Pharmaceuticals and IT at http://www.brightwater.ie For
example, a Microbiology Analyst with one to three years’ experience could earn
€25,000 – €35,000 and with three years’ plus experience could earn €34,000 –
€46,000. A Chemistry graduate with one to three years’ of experience could start out
as an Analytical Chemist earning between €30,000 – €44,000 and with experience and
promotion could potentially become a Quality Manager on €55,000 – €75,000 or even
a Director of Quality on a salary of €90,000 – €120,000.
ADVICE ABOUT CHOOSING THIS AREA
It takes years to build a career, broaden your experience and move up the career
ladder and you need to be open to learning new skills and adapting your knowledge to
the core business of a company. With patience and hard work you can be well
rewarded. Choose Science because you have a passion for it.

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