Career Alternatives for Scientists

Career Alternatives for Scientists
Career Alternatives for Scientists

I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!!!!!

Many people, having completed their BSc, MSC or PhD, or perhaps having completed one or more post doctoral assignments, feel that laboratory work is no longer for them.

There are many reasons why they feel this. The Editor himself left the laboratory bench behind many moons ago, primarily because he wasn’t very clever (well, I say that, but he did get his name on an academic paper – Guy’s Paper) but also because the pace of life was just too slow. He knew that a Nobel Prize would surely be his, but it would take forever to arrive at that point, and he just couldn’t wait that long! He needed results…now!

Career Alternatives for Scientists

Some years ago the New Scientist organised an annual exhibition at Olympia in London called Career Alternatives for Scientists. Seltek was delighted to attend on two occasions, and was honoured to be asked to speak to scientists who were interested in learning more about commercial careers in sales and marketing, which is Seltek’s specialist field of course.

Other speakers informed people about careers in intellectual property, law, medical writing and so on.

At that time therefore, we learned that a lot of scientists feel the urge to move into non-laboratory science, but are not aware of the options open to them.

The opportunities that Seltek deal with frequently offer scientists the chance to get into commercial work. Our clients (and we on their behalf!) often find it difficult to find candidates with a blend of scientific/technical capability and commercial experience, so we then suggest to clients that they consider people with the right technical background, the potential to succeed in a commercial environment, and most importantly the desire to do so.

Many scientists at this crossroads in their lives are somewhat wary of sales. Their idea of a salesperson is derived from literature and TV/film – someone like Bob Hoskins in Dennis Potter’s 1976 TV series Pennies from Heaven for example!

Nothing could be farther from the truth! Sales in the scientific environment is almost always a civilised, consultative occupation when the salesperson will be called upon to use his or her scientific knowledge, and they will be dealing with similar intelligent, like-minded people – their colleagues and their clients.

There is a spectrum of opportunity ranging from low-technology sales roles where the balance is of the order 90% sales: 10% technical – say selling laboratory consumables for example, to Field Advisory Specialists where the balance is nearer to 50:50, and through to Applications Scientists where the balance is 10:90 in favour of the technical.

Marketing jobs, training jobs, service jobs similarly call for a high degree of technical skill and your feet will remain well and truly away from the door!

The rewards are usually much greater in commercial science. Even starting roles will pay as much as post doc salaries, and you may have a company car thrown into the package! With two or three years experience you could expect to be earning 50% more than you were before.

Furthermore, having broken into commercial work in any respect, you will find that your career path can go in virtually any direction.

Finally – and the greatest joy of all – once you have experience in commercial science, you will have all but guaranteed yourself a meal-ticket for life!

You’ll need to feel comfortable dealing with people of course, so if you don’t like interacting with your fellow human, then it’s back to the laboratory for you! But if you feel that you would enjoy the challenges that commercial science has to offer then please call 01279 657716 and talk to any of the consultants who will answer your questions and give you further information, or just ask for the Director Guy Buncombe or email guy@seltekconsultants.co.uk and he will be pleased to help you.