May 28, 2021 12:28 PM EDT
Many people search for a career with meaning but are wary of pursuing work in crowded fields. What's the point of getting a two or four-year degree if you can't find an entry-level job? While an understandable line of thinking, concern over job prospects can freeze our ambitions and discourage us from following our dreams.
The best compromise is to find an exciting and meaningful career option with plenty of room for newcomers. If that sounds appealing to you, look no further than scientific research. There are plenty of entry-level positions to go around, and most only require an associate's or bachelor's degree.
Sound too good to be true? We don't blame you for thinking so but insist otherwise. To drive the point, we've outlined five types of entry-level jobs involving scientific research:
The overwhelming majority of scientific research gets done inside laboratories. Whether they're publicly funded or privately owned, research labs need entry-level technicians to do the grunt work and lay the foundations for more advanced study. Most lab technicians are trained to use 96 well dispenser systems and other state-of-the-art research equipment. It's one of the best ways to get your hands on the latest technology while also performing critical scientific research.
As the job title suggests, research assistants help the lead researchers in their efforts to gather data, catalog it, quantify it, and draw conclusions from it. The day-to-day responsibilities will ultimately depend on the type of research being performed. For instance, if it's a study on biodiversity, your duties could include gathering samples at specific locations and documenting every conceivable detail. Or, if it's the observation of an astronomical anomaly, your work could involve monitoring detection equipment or operating the telephones overnight in case something happens.
Unlike a research assistant, who directly works with lead researchers on a specific study or project, a research associate works with multiple researchers to coordinate several studies simultaneously. More often than not, research associates work for private institutions to reduce bias without compromising coordination. For example, a research associate working for an aerospace company gathers up the progress made by four different departments regarding the development of a new type of wing design. That way, things move forward smoothly despite four factions working independently on the same project, something that could easily stifle progress without a subjective outsider managing the combination of divided effort.
The work of a research coordinator is predominantly fixed on the front and back ends of research projects. They screen subjects, schedule their involvement, and perform any post-study follow-up. In the meantime, they monitor and document any developments that could impact or influence the results of the study. It's a suitable position for those who prefer a less hands-on entry-level role in scientific research.
Data entry clerk
Another hands-off but nonetheless important entry-level position within scientific research is data entry clerk. You take the data gathered from an active study and - no surprise - enter it into the necessary database for the sake of analysis and understanding. Though behind the scenes and "entry-level," the duties of a data entry clerk are paramount to the success of a scientific study. The efforts of researchers are in vain if the scientific data gathered is unavailable or unreliable. With this in mind, data entry clerks are some of the unsung heroes of scientific research.
Do you dream of a career in science but don't know where to start? If so, consider majoring in an area of science that prepares you for one of several entry-level positions in scientific research. It's not only a practical employment opportunity, it's a chance to play a critical role in developing an advanced understanding of the universe.
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