What They Do: Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.
Work Environment: Natural sciences managers spend most of their time in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Most natural sciences managers work full time.
How to Become One: Natural sciences managers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or a related field. Most natural sciences managers work as scientists before becoming managers.
Salary: The median annual wage for natural sciences managers is $137,900.
Job Outlook: Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of natural sciences managers with similar occupations.
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Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists. They direct activities related to research and development, and coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and production.
Natural sciences managers typically do the following:
Natural sciences managers direct scientific research activities and direct and coordinate product development projects and production activities. The duties of natural sciences managers vary with the field of science (such as biology or chemistry) or the industry they work in. Research projects may be aimed at improving manufacturing processes, advancing basic scientific knowledge, or developing new products.
Some natural sciences managers are former scientists and, after becoming managers, may continue to conduct their own research as well as oversee the work of others. These managers are sometimes called working managers and usually have smaller staffs, allowing them to do research in addition to carrying out their administrative duties.
Managers who are responsible for larger staffs may not have time to contribute to research and may spend all their time performing administrative duties.
Laboratory managers need to ensure that laboratories are fully supplied so that scientists can run their tests and experiments. Some specialize in the management of laboratory animals.
During all stages of a project, natural sciences managers coordinate the activities of their unit with those of other units or organizations. They work with higher levels of management; with financial, production, and marketing specialists; and with equipment and materials suppliers.
Natural sciences managers hold about 78,800 jobs. The largest employers of natural sciences managers are as follows:
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||36%|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||15%|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||6%|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||3%|
Most of the time, they work in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Like managers in other fields, natural sciences managers may spend a large portion of their time using computers and talking to other members of their organization.
Natural sciences managers have different requirements based on the size of their staff. Managers with larger staffs spend their time primarily in offices performing administrative duties and spend little time doing research or working in the field or in laboratories. Working managers who have research responsibilities and smaller staffs may need to work in laboratories or in the field, which may require traveling, sometimes to remote locations.
Most natural sciences managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.
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Natural sciences managers usually advance to management positions after years of employment as scientists. Natural sciences managers typically have a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline or a related field, such as engineering. Some managers may find it helpful to have an advanced management degree—for example, a Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree.
Natural sciences managers typically begin their careers as scientists; therefore, most have a bachelor's degree, master's degree, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline or a closely related field, such as engineering. Scientific and technical knowledge is essential for managers because they must be able to understand the work of their subordinates and provide technical assistance when needed.
Natural sciences managers who are interested in acquiring postsecondary education in management should be able to find master's degree or Ph.D. programs in a natural science that incorporate business management courses. Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree programs blend advanced training in a particular science field, such as biotechnology or environmental science, with business skills, such as communications and program management, and policy. Those interested in acquiring general management skills may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Administration (MPA). Some natural sciences managers will have studied psychology or some other management-related field to enter this occupation.
Sciences managers must continually upgrade their knowledge because of the rapid growth of scientific developments.
Natural sciences managers usually work several years in the sciences before advancing to management positions. While employed as scientists, they typically are given more responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. Eventually, they may lead research teams and have control over the direction and content of projects before being promoted to an managerial position.
Although certification is not typically required to become a natural sciences manager, many relevant certifications are available. These certifications range from those related to specific scientific areas of study or practice, such as laboratory animal management, to general management topics, such as project management.
Communication skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to communicate clearly with a variety of audiences, such as scientists, policymakers, and the public. Both written and oral communication are important.
Critical-thinking skills. Natural sciences managers must carefully evaluate the work of others. They must determine if their staff's methods and results are based on sound science.
Interpersonal skills. Natural sciences managers lead research teams and therefore need to work well with others in order to reach common goals. Managers routinely deal with conflict, which they must be able to turn into positive outcomes for their organization.
Leadership skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to organize, direct, and motivate others. They need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their workers and create an environment in which the workers can succeed.
Problem-solving skills. Natural sciences managers use scientific observation and analysis to find answers to complex technical questions.
Time-management skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to perform multiple administrative, supervisory, and technical tasks while ensuring that projects remain on schedule.
The median annual wage for natural sciences managers is $137,900. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $75,040, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.
The median annual wages for natural sciences managers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences||$170,770|
|Management, scientific, and technical consulting services||$151,870|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||$124,430|
|State government, excluding education and hospitals||$86,320|
Most natural sciences managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.
Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent over the next ten years, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
About 6,900 openings for natural sciences managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire
Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect employment growth for the scientists whom these managers supervise. Businesses and government hiring more life and physical scientists also may need to hire more natural sciences managers to oversee them, although managers often are flexible in the number of workers they supervise.
|Occupational Title||Employment, 2021||Projected Employment, 2031||Change, 2021-31|
|Natural sciences managers||78,800||83,400||6||4,600|
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.