Keystone logo

6 Service Careers for Science Students

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,” said Mahatma Ghandi, Indian activist and leader who helped shape his country’s future. Service of others, helping that person on the street, or extending your hand to another in need, or working for something bigger than just yourself, can take many different forms. Civic engagement -- the need to have qualified, informed, skilled, and caring people working together -- is a necessity for a functioning society. It’s not limited to any specific field of study, but if you are more inclined towards the sciences, then rest assured you’ll be able to find your niche and start a fulfilling career in science, while also serving your community and others. Here are six study specialities to consider which perfectly merge highly-skilled scientific training with service to create careers that you can really make a difference in.

Nov 6, 2019
  • Education
6 Service Careers for Science Students

Working for the greater good and public service involves putting others before yourself, or working for an organization or public entity whose mission is not to benefit themselves through profit, but instead to work towards some defined greater good. “Public service, generally, refers to services provided to the general public by a public entity, such as a state, local or federal government. However, public service also refers to assistance provided by charitable nonprofit organizations, which may be completely separate from any government,” writes Shannon Lee for Civil servants generally study a broad range of topics from economics, government, management, research statistics, and many of the social sciences. A multidisciplinary approach to a degree program will serve a civil servant well.

Scientists are needed in civil service, too. You’ll find there are many ways to utilize your science degree to help launch your career in service. “Albert Einstein loved his job as a civil servant at the patent office in Bern. After years of studying, he welcomed the reliable income and job security,” reports Hanns J. Neubert, for Merging science with civil service means working at an interesting interface and finding ways to converge the two.

What type of scientist would suit the challenges of working for a federal research institute? Dr. Achim Günther, chair of the section Chemists in Civil Service of the Society of German Chemists (GdCh) in Berlin, states, "The ideal candidate for the scientific tasks in civil service is the generalist. She or he should have a broad knowledge in her or his scientific field. It is also important to be open to acquiring additional knowledge needed for civil servants, e.g., knowledge in budgetary laws." Another example is in research and development, which is an important sector for both the sciences and for civil service.

“I believe there are many scientists and engineers interested in working on scientific issues for the public benefit who, perhaps, have never considered the idea of government service. Maybe their impression is that technical career paths in government are not as appealing as they are in academe or the private sector,” writes Janet Napolitano for The stereotype that there’s not money in government work persists, but it’s unfounded. The reality is that many public service employees earn a salary on par with their private sector counterparts. In addition, many public sector jobs, such as those in government, have relatively rigid work schedules such that the employees only work up to 40 hours per week. Top salaries annual salaries range from starting at $73,000 to $118,000.

Aside from a surprisingly high salary, working in the public sector, whether in research or other scientific-based fields, can offer many other excellent benefits. For example, you’ll likely find you’ll have job security, paired with flexitime, options for good pensions, a great working atmosphere, and a built-in sense of community. You’ll also be able to continue to keep learning in an environment that encourages continual growth in your field. “Public sector organisations are committed to realizing their staff’s potential. Employees are often encouraged, if not required, to enhance their skills set by participating in training programmes, progressing their professional development or achieving external qualifications. This can lead to further career opportunities,” reprorts

Still wondering if your science skills should be applied to the service sector? Here are six study specialities to consider which perfectly merge highly-skilled scientific training with service to create careers that you can really make a difference in.

1. Healthcare or medical professionals

One of the fastest-growing sectors, healthcare or medical professionals are constantly in demand. The starting annual salaries range from $53,000 for a health educator to upwards of $96,000 for a medical and health services manager. For anyone interested in working with people to help them improve their health, or for those who want to conduct trial run studies and research to help find cures for diseases, then this would be the field of study and career path for you that combines both science and service.

2. Emergency management

Often overlooked, the field of emergency management offers many exciting career options for those who want to prioritize service in their work. Going out on a hitch to fight fires, working alongside a crew of dedicated, and trained, firefighting professionals could be your reality. EMTs and paramedics are also integral parts of the emergency management team and, for the most part, training for these positions can be fast-tracked to jumpstart your service career. “Emergency management deals with the process of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from an emergency, such as earthquakes, fires, storms, hazardous materials incidents, and civil disturbances. Professional roles are varied in the field, ranging from working in environmental protection to risk analysis, emergency response to information systems,” according to

Emergency managers are skilled at quickly analyzing and assessing a situation and responding quickly. Chasity Cooper, in, writes, “Emergency managers are expert planners, tasked with seeing the big picture of a situation — as well as all of the little details — to ensure that a community or organization (or both) is adequately prepared in the event of an emergency. They are often employed by hospitals, colleges and universities, community relief organizations, as well as state or local governments, military, and law enforcement organizations.”

3. Forensic science

Are you obsessed with watching the TV show “Forensic Files”? Solving true crimes happens by highly trained professionals who get degrees in forensic science. ""Forensics" means "of or having to do with questions of law," so nearly any discipline can be considered "forensic" if it's applied to solving crimes or to the court system,” according to The Balance Careers. Combining a passion for science and for helping others, for example, discovering the culprits who committed an unsolved crime, could be your challenging and satisfying course of study and career path. This field offers many jobs and a surprisingly long list of specialties, including the following: forensic science technicians, blood pattern analysts, forensic ballistic experts, forensic DNA analysts, polygraph examiners, forensic document examiners, digital and computer forensic investigators, forensic toxicologists, and much more.

4. Local authorities and public administration

Working together, works better. For a successful community and a happy civil society, we need well-trained and experienced local authorities and public servants. Policymakers need to be informed and trained on the latest cutting-edge scientific research. If your passion for science can also serve others through policy-making or becoming a local authority, then consider any of the following jobs and careers: health policy manager/researcher, health science policy analyst, policy analyst advisor, public policy specialist, science policy advisor, scientific program analyst, and much more. You’ll work and collaborate with other government officials and policymakers to make sure the facts and science are put first in the decision-making process.

5. Laboratory science

Any state laboratory is divided into the following sections: Agriculture, Animal Feedstuffs, Molecular Biology/Microbiology, Corporate Services, Environmental Heritage and Consumer Protection, Customs, Human Toxicology, Revenue-Excise, Quality Assurance, Veterinary Toxicology and Information Technology. If you’re interested in working in a laboratory, then consider also how the project you’re working on can serve the greater good. Research and special trials designed by scientists working in the public sector can provide valuable data and analysis for some of the most cutting edge and important scientific topics.

6. Aviation

When you were a kid did you stare up into space and want to fly planes? Was Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun your favorite movie hero? Whether or not you’re flying the planes, you can make a difference on the ground as an important part of the aviation team: air traffic control specialists. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “Most air traffic control specialists work full time, and some work additional hours. Larger air traffic control facilities operate continuously, and employees may rotate among day, evening, and night shifts, along with weekends and holidays. Smaller facilities have more standard dawn to dusk operating hours.”

Whatever service path you decide to take, and in whichever country you plan to study and work, you can be sure that a career in science and in serving others will be both challenging and rewarding. We need the best and brightest to go into public service. We need your passion for science and for service to help solve the most pressing issues of our day, and to fill the roles and jobs needed to sustain and build up our communities!

Find your perfect program

Use our search to find and compare programs from universities all over the world!

Natural Sciences