Depth and Diversity: Jobs for Scientists

Scientists, mathematicians and graduates of related technical fields are in demand on the labor market. Women in particular. We’ll tell you what to look for as you start your search and what jobs are out there for scientists.

Want to breathe life into an exoplanet? Physicist Claudius Gros thinks that’s a great idea. While many people have no idea what an exoplanet even is – a planet situated outside of the solar system – Gros is one step ahead. Gros is researching the Genesis Mission at Goethe University Frankfurt, and it sounds a bit like science fiction: The mission could bring life to distant planets where nature alone cannot. The idea behind it? Unidentified interstellar micro-spaceships carry single-celled organisms that colonize these planets.

Sound like pure fantasy? Well, it’s not. Scientists and mathematicians are succeeding in pursuing a goal with tenacity and a view to the future. Expertise, analytical thinking, translating complex theories into practice: These are all things biologists, chemists, physicists, mathematicians, but also medical technicians, earth scientists, biotechnologists and even forest managers learn during their studies. They are employed by universities, research and development labs, institutions, companies and consulting firms. While basic research is the focus at universities, industrial focuses tend more towards developing and optimizing products and solutions: in service of the agricultural industry, in search of innovative prosthetic methods, working in a cosmetic lab or as a graduate in the pharmaceutical industry.

Some 360,000 people were working in mathematics or science in Germany in 2016. The number of graduates in these fields is sharply increasing (source: a report by the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) from March, 2016 about STEM jobs on the German labor market, entitled, “Der Arbeitsmarkt in Deutschland – MINT-Berufe”). According to figures from Stifterverband, women and academics from abroad are still the exception.

Strong demand for mathematicians, physicists, chemists

Despite this good news, there is no guarantee of jobs for STEM graduates. While some mathematicians are in high demand, the chance of success for finding a good job for biologist depends on the field they are interested in. Molecular biology and chemical biology are two areas in demand by companies. Local governments and institutions, however, are often looking to hire biologists for jobs relating to environmental protection, environmental policy and agriculture (source: WILA Bonn).

Chemists are working intensively on future issues. The chemical industry produces materials that help with climate protection, mobility, demographic change and feeding the growing world population. This means there is now a major overlap between chemistry and fields like chemical and process engineering. Systems are becoming more complex and digital technology is already playing a major role. This is true of all employers.

Jobs with an interdisciplinary focus – the future

Scientists and mathematicians begin their careers as consultants, researchers and developers, technicians, quality, project or system engineers or company trainees. They may also become scientific editors, presenters or teachers. Skills like management skills, presentation skills, communication skills and good English language skills are in demand. HR managers also value proven international experience.

The lines between science, medicine and technology continue to blur, with these overlapping areas becoming increasingly important. Interdisciplinary qualifications and experience are a good combination for starting your career in business and science. Examples include biotechnologists, biomathematicians, computational biologists, agricultural biologists, medical technicians and chemical engineers.

The automotive industry, precision mechanics and optics and the chemical industry have the highest starting salaries, ranging from 42,000 to 46,000 euros/year (source: Personalmarkt/, last updated: 2013). The pharmaceutical industry and process engineering also hold excellent earning potential. Graduates with Master’s or Doctorate degrees earn the most. Universities and research institutions pay less.

Doctorate degree for a salary bump

Those starting their careers can expect an average salary of 45,537 euros for men and an incomprehensibly lower 38,585 euros for women. These figures were revealed in the 2016 Universum Student Survey for Germany.

Graduates should consider earning a Master’s degree or a Doctorate to maximize their earning potential and pursue careers in research. Chemists, pharmacists and doctors usually have these degrees already. Currently, 30 percent of all Doctorate students in Germany are scientists. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, 50 percent of Doctorate students are.

Your partner on your path to employment: careerloft

Are you a scientist or mathematician? Will you be graduating soon? Are you studying in Germany or abroad and are already exploring the job market? We’re happy to help. A Career Development Program membership offers you valuable goodies for your studies and starting your career. At careerloft you’ll find all kinds of news about science and technology as well as exciting jobs for professionals in your industry – from internships to trainee programs.

With careerloft you can participate in interesting webinars on current issues from anywhere in the world or find a mentor to take you to the top of your chosen career path. As a careerloft member, you’ll make valuable contacts at an early stage, whether it’s with other students or graduates or employees at our partner companies. They’re always there to answer any questions you may have!

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