Washington State University
Dr. Universe: How long do you have to train to become a scientist? – Kaitlin, Texas
You may dream of pointing your telescope at a distant galaxy. Or zoom in on microscopic life on Earth. Being a scientist is a great job. You can also do science for fun. Age or anything else doesn’t matter. it belongs to everyone.
I was talking to my friend Kari Stevens about her science training. She has a BS in Genetics and Cell Biology from Washington State University. WSU has a strong undergraduate research program. Therefore, Stevens works as a scientist while attending school.
“I can see the same experiments in a class setting and then in an actual scientific setting, which is really cool,” she said. I think the younger you are, the better you can do it.”
Here’s a quick rundown of one path to becoming a professional scientist. After high school, many attend community college for his two years. They then transfer to college. Some go straight to college. This is undergraduate education. My goal is to get a bachelor’s degree. For science, it’s a Bachelor of Science or BS and usually takes four years.
Colleges and universities are full of people and ideas. So it’s a great place to find out what kind of science you like.
Some then go on to graduate school. For science, you can get a Master of Science or Master of Science degree. This usually takes two years. Some do PhDs, which usually take four to six years.
Graduate school is often a mix of taking classes, teaching classes, and doing original research projects. Many also spend several years as postdocs after completing their PhD. This allows you to acquire special skills before setting up your own lab.
Wow, it’s been a while! This cat loves school, so it looks fun to me.
But it’s not the only way to become a scientist. There are science jobs you can do right after high school. Or at any point along its path. Some scientific positions require a two-year degree or bachelor’s degree. Some require a master’s degree or Ph.D.
Science jobs may be in universities or government agencies such as NASA. They may be in national laboratories or non-profit organizations. Scientists also work in industry, making medicines, foods, and other things that people use.
Some take breaks between degrees to work as scientists. Stevens says students can also gain experience by emailing scientists. He can ask to volunteer in the lab. that’s what she did.
“I was like, ‘I’m very interested in what you’re doing, but I don’t fully understand what you’re doing!'” she said. “They were excited that someone wanted to learn.
Stevens spends about 10 hours a week in the lab. She’s been doing it ever since she entered college. Currently she is running her own project. This usually doesn’t happen until graduate school.
Additionally, she has written academic papers. That’s how scientists tell the scientific community about their research. She also attends professional conferences. These are like science fairs that go to sleep. They helped Stevens meet other scientists with whom he could later work.
If you love science, we have great news for you. There are many community science projects (sometimes called citizen science) that you can do right now. These projects help scientists collect data to advance all kinds of science. There must be a perfect project for a young scientist like you!
Adults can help children submit questions at askdruniverse.wsu.edu/ask.