Natural Sciences Managers

by Kate Williams

What Natural Sciences Managers Do

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=faXbaiNn2HM

Work Environment

Natural sciences managers spend most of their time in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Most natural sciences managers work full time.

How to Become a Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or a related field. Most natural sciences managers work as scientists before becoming managers.

Pay

The median annual wage for natural sciences managers was $129,100 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 5 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect employment growth for the scientists whom these managers supervise.

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists. They direct activities related to research and development, and coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and production.

Duties

Natural sciences managers typically do the following:

  • Work with top executives to develop goals and strategies for researchers and developers
  • Budget resources for projects and programs by determining staffing, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, supervise, and evaluate scientists, technicians, and other staff members
  • Review staff members’ methodology and the accuracy of their research results
  • Monitor the progress of projects, review research performed, and draft operational reports
  • Ensure that laboratories are stocked with equipment and supplies
  • Provide technical assistance to scientists, technicians, and support staff
  • Establish and follow administrative procedures, policies, and standards
  • Communicate project proposals, research findings, and the status of projects to clients and top management

Natural sciences managers direct scientific research activities and direct and coordinate product development projects and production activities. The duties of natural sciences managers vary with the field of science (such as biology or chemistry) or the industry they work in. Research projects may be aimed at improving manufacturing processes, advancing basic scientific knowledge, or developing new products.

Some natural sciences managers are former scientists and, after becoming managers, may continue to conduct their own research as well as oversee the work of others. These managers are sometimes called working managers and usually have smaller staffs, allowing them to do research in addition to carrying out their administrative duties.

Managers who are responsible for larger staffs may not have time to contribute to research and may spend all their time performing administrative duties.

Laboratory managers need to ensure that laboratories are fully supplied so that scientists can run their tests and experiments. Some specialize in the management of laboratory animals.

During all stages of a project, natural sciences managers coordinate the activities of their unit with those of other units or organizations. They work with higher levels of management; with financial, production, and marketing specialists; and with equipment and materials suppliers.

Natural sciences managers held about 71,400 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of natural sciences managers were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 28%
Manufacturing 17
Federal government, excluding postal service 15
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 5

Most of the time, they work in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Like managers in other fields, natural sciences managers may spend a large portion of their time using computers and talking to other members of their organization.

Natural sciences managers have different requirements based on the size of their staff. Managers with larger staffs spend their time primarily in offices performing administrative duties and spend little time doing research or working in the field or in laboratories. Working managers who have research responsibilities and smaller staffs may need to work in laboratories or in the field, which may require traveling, sometimes to remote locations.

Work Schedules

Most natural sciences managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of natural sciences managers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor’s degree $65,160

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor’s degree $144,830

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes.

Doctoral or professional degree $94,490

Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another.

Bachelor’s degree $78,790

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health.

Bachelor’s degree $71,360

Geoscientists

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

Bachelor’s degree $92,040

Medical scientists

Medical Scientists

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

Doctoral or professional degree $88,790

Physicists and astronomers

Physicists and Astronomers

Physicists and astronomers study the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact.

Doctoral or professional degree $122,220

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $79,540

For more information about Professional Science Master’s programs, visit

Professional Science Master’s

For general information about science careers and news, including articles on natural science management, visit

American Association for the Advancement of Science

To find job openings for natural sciences managers in the federal government, visit

USAJOBS

CareerOneStop

For a career video on natural sciences managers, visit

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Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Natural Sciences Managers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/natural-sciences-managers.htm (visited ).


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