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How many years of college does it take to become a scientist?

Greetings! I'm Ms. Tipton at the International Community School. My 3rd graders have a few questions and I'd like to share your advice with them. Thanks in advance!

#stem #college


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Daniel’s Answer

You can start your career as a scientist as soon as Middle School, just a couple years away. There are organizations like Destination Discovery and F1 in Schools, that get Middle Schoolers learning the basics of science and what it means to be a scientist. They also have science competitions in your state, country, and even internationally, where you will get to work together with your classmates and complete science projects for awards. When you reach High School, you will be able to join Science Olympiad, where the science goes deeper, and you get to work on science projects that apply more of what you are learning in school, from Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Materials, and Physics. You also get into applied science like building drone aircraft, making cool, useful things, and competing with kids from schools in your area and around the world. If you are involved in these activities, you may be able to get summer jobs even in high school that apply all you have learned. This will also prepare you for college, where there are many science classes that prepare you for a working career. The science clubs in college are even better than those in high school, and include projects like building solar-powered cars. You will need at least four years of college to work in a scientific field, but once you find which area you are good at, the classes will be fun and exciting, even with all the hard work. At college graduation you will have to decide if you want to do the jobs where your work is to perform the scientific experiments and build the technology other people design, or design the experiments and technology yourself. Graduate school usually adds five more years of work, but only two of those years are in classes, and you will be a real working scientist (a research assistant), getting paid to learn and contribute to the experiments. The last three years of graduate school will be researching and designing the experiment that will define the career you pursue. You will become an expert, and be called a doctor of your field of study when you complete your experiment and turn in your final results to a group of senior scientists to review. Then you will have to decide whether to be a scientist in industry, university, or government laboratories. All three pursuits are exciting and challenging, and will make for a great career.

Daniel recommends the following next steps:

Work with a teacher or parent to find science organizations looking to teach the next generation
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Look into Destination Discovery and F1 in Schools as well as other opportunities to start your scientific projects
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Work with a teacher or parent to explore scientific careers on the Internet. There are a number of good websites that explain the jobs of scientists
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Alfred’s Answer

This is a great question! My wife works with scientist a lot at her biochemical engineering firm.
She works with scientist who are lab assistants or tech that are still in college working on their first degree. A lot are graduate students working on their Masters or Doctorate degrees.
The similarities between all these people are that they are dedicated to the scientific method and the pursuit of knowledge.

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John’s Answer

In short, 4 years is typically how long it takes to earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. Sometimes people can earn the degree in 3 years, and in rare instances, 2 years, but they usually enter college with many Advanced Placement credits, or they have completed community college courses. I earned a B.S. in Chemistry, and it took 4 years.

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Paul’s Answer

Hi Ms. Tipton’s 3rd grade class!

To become a scientist you have to get an undergraduate degree which requires four years in college.

Depending on the type of scientist you’d like to become you may also be required to get a Master’s degree which is two additional years of college.

Many scientists are doctors which requires 3 more years in college.

So, to become a scientist you may need to attend college between four and nine years!

Good luck!

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Michael’s Answer

It depends on if you want to specialize in a particular science. At a minimum you must earn your Bachelors Degree, which will take 4-5 years. Then if you want to really specialize you can go earn Graduate degrees such as a Masters and Doctorate. Usually it takes an additional 2-5 years to earn those.

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Jovan’s Answer

You can start working in laboratories while in college as a research intern. A bachelors degree is attainable with 4 years of college, but you can also get a Masters Degree (6 years) or a Doctorates Degree (8 years) in Science. There are a lot of fields within the Scientist category, I'd advice to go after one you are passionate about. If you like aquatics you can be a Marine Biologist, if you are interested in studying viruses such as Covid-19 you can be a Virologist. There are so many interesting fields within Biology/ Science. Best of luck!

Jovan recommends the following next steps:

Sign up for research in college.
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Narrow down what field of science you like.
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Use Google and YouTube to learn more about your interest.
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