A Jointventure of
Scientific infrastructure - Germany
A | A | A

Get out of the lab!

by Katja Bosse

The many places where natural scientists are needed.

Get out of the lab© -Oxford- - iStockphoto.comThere are many career options for natural scientists outside laboratories

In publishing

Even without being in the lab themselves, natural scientists can keep up with the latest research: as journal editors or book proofreaders at academic publishing companies. Manuscripts have to be evaluated, contacts with authors maintained and submission deadlines met. In proofreading, natural scientists also detect current trends and conduct marketing analyses in order to develop new book projects and implement them in collaboration with the best authors. In addition to specialist knowledge, perfect English, diplomatic finesse and an excellent feel for language are required. A doctorate is also considered beneficial. Organisational skills are indispensable. The best way to get started is via internships or trainee programmes.

In quality management

Whether energy-saving lamps or vehicle accessories: to ensure that consumers can rely on consistent quality of the goods they purchase, products must be tested both in development and in production. Quality managers constantly check whether all the materials employed offer consistent properties, are always available and as easy as possible to work with. At the same time, quality managers are also held responsible if a complaint is made. In addition to technical knowledge, it is therefore important that applicants have a methodical way of working and a sense of responsibility. A willingness to travel to development and production sites is generally also expected. Internships are helpful, and may even present a route into this career straight from university.

In marketing

Companies can develop the most exciting things - if there is no demand for them they will flop anyway. That's why marketing experts are involved in research from the very beginning and evaluate whether a new product is likely to make enough money that it is even worth investing in its further development. That it represents an advantage if these employees know, thanks to a natural science degree, what the researchers are talking about is obvious. As product managers - for example in the pharmaceuticals industry - they are responsible for sales strategies, advertising campaigns and promotion up to market introduction. Many will therefore have previous experience working in sales, or have completed a trainee programme.

In patents

A person who invents something will also want to protect it and secure his or her sole right to it. This requires the inventor to register a patent - and that's pretty complicated. Patent lawyers help researchers and companies submit all authorisations, notarisations and fees to the patent office, to meet deadlines and respond to office actions - either as part of a law firm or in the patent division of a large-scale company. Patent lawyers are increasingly also consulted by companies who wish to have the patent values of other companies estimated before taking them over. To qualify for this profession requires a natural science degree and at least one year's experience in a technical role, plus three years of training, part of which must be completed with a fully qualified patent lawyer. In addition, candidates study general law at Fern-Universität Hagen for two years.

In consulting

When pharmaceutical companies plan to merge or a chemical company needs a cost-cutting programme, strategy consultants develop the required solutions. For this to happen as quickly as possible, customers expect specialist knowledge. This is why, in addition to creative ideas and an overall understanding of the industry, approximately a quarter of all consultants has a background in the natural sciences. To gain one of the sought-after and well-paid jobs at a corporate consulting firm, candidates must have an excellent university degree, experience abroad and social skills. Basic knowledge of economics on the other hand can be acquired after entering the profession.

From DIE ZEIT :: 09.12.2011