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The world of science is as varied as any other academic discipline. Scientists are professional researchers who conduct research in a wide variety of topics that sometimes lead to important scientific discoveries. The working conditions of scientists vary greatly by academic discipline. Each type of science has its own setting based upon what the research topic happens to be. Biological scientists, forensic scientists, medical scientists, atmospheric scientists and chemists all comprise the larger community of scientists.
Scientists work in a variety of industries, and this can affect their working conditions. Research funding in private industry can, in some cases, lead to more favorable working conditions than working for government agencies, where the funding may be shared by several different departments. This can affect the quality of facilities and other equipment used in research. Scientists work, not only for private industry and the federal government, but also for state governments, universities and medical establishments. Private industries can include manufacturing or industries focused on research and development.
One of the primary places that many scientists work is in the research laboratory. This typically conjures up images of microscopes and petri dishes. Laboratories can also be highly technological in nature, consisting of complex computer systems and other equipment used in scientific analysis. In some cases, science laboratories may fulfill the stereotype of being dark and dingy places cut off from the outside world. This may be true to an extent, but laboratories must also be clean and sterile environments, especially in medical and biological sciences.
While scientists may spend a considerable amount of time in the laboratory, they also spend a significant amount of time in their own offices. As professional researchers, scientists are expected to create reports to indicate the results of their research. In academic settings like universities, scientists are expected to regularly publish their findings in academic journals and other types of professional publications. Scientists often work alone in their offices, but some also have research assistants or collaborate with other scientists in a team environment.
Scientists are not necessarily confined to the four-walled laboratory to conduct their research. Atmospheric scientists, for example, spend time collecting data outside and in a variety of different venues like airports or in the middle of nowhere. Wherever weather stations can be found, atmospheric scientists may found collecting and analyzing data. Forensic scientists can work in the laboratory and at the scene of a crime collecting important data needed for crime scene analysis. The zoologist and other biological scientists work in outdoor environments in zoos or even out in the wild, observing animals and collecting data as necessary.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Biological Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Science Technicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Chemists and Material Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Atmospheric Scientists
- Health Guide USA: Medical Scientist Working Conditions
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.