Beyond the lab: 5 science careers you might not have considered

Beyond the lab: 5 science careers you might not have considered

What do you think of when you hear ‘scientist’? Someone in a white coat, hidden away in a lab? Beakers, test tubes and Bunsen burners?

Laboratory research is crucial to our understanding of chemicals and processes. It leads to improved therapies, foods and manufacturing. But the lab isn’t your only possible workplace when you have a science degree under your belt. There are many other options at your fingertips.

Here are just a few of the things you could do with your scientific know-how.

Venture into the great outdoors

If you love being outside, you might want to pursue field research in your scientific career. Study animal behaviours, examine the make-up of soils or develop plans for how we manage natural resources. Our dedicated wildlife sanctuary, right on the doorstep of the Melbourne Campus, lets you get out in the field straight away.

Solve business problems

Science has many different applications in in the business world. If you have a head for numbers, data science could be your pathway to a satisfying career. As a data scientist, you’ll work with large datasets gathered by companies to solve problems, refine strategy and achieve commercial goals.

Alternatively, you could use the skills you built in the lab in a business setting. For example, you could use your chemistry skills to work for a cosmetics company or develop pharmaceuticals. Michelle Gallaher took a slightly different route – after studying applied sciences, she developed a company that helps other researchers commercialise their work.

Spread the word

If you’re passionate about sharing science with others, you could channel your skills into a science communication role. Raise awareness for the importance of science or the exciting research taking place.

Science communicators are the bridge between scientists and ‘laypeople’, and without them, many people would never hear about what’s going on in the world of science.

You could work for a research organisation, a government body or a media company writing articles, producing podcasts or creating films. You might even find yourself on television or radio – could you be the next Bill Nye The Science Guy or Dr Karl?

Go straight to Hollywood

Whether they’re about realistic situations or based on comic book superheroes, many movies and tv shows include scientific concepts. In the last few years alone, films like The Arrival, Blade Runner 2049 and Annihilation have had a heavy scientific focus, while even franchises like Marvel’s Avengers place science and fantasy side-by-side.

Film and television science consultants are the ones who make sure what we see on the screen obeys the laws of science. Dr Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA, lent his expertise to Ridley Scott on 2015 film The Martian to ensure that everything from the physics to the space suits featured in the movie were accurate.

Fight the good fight

Science gives you practical skills that you can use to create real, tangible change. If you’re passionate about a cause – say, climate change or conservation – a science qualification gets you off the bench and into the ring.

La Trobe graduate Jim Thomas has always been a strong advocate for wildlife conservation and rainforest protection. He used his science skills to save an entire species of tree kangaroo – Papua New Guinea’s tenkile – from extinction. Not a bad day at the office.


Science is a versatile discipline that could take you in many different career directions. Explore our science degrees.

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