Natural sciences managers usually advance to management positions after years of employment as scientists. Natural sciences managers typically have a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in a scientific discipline or a related field such as engineering.
Natural sciences managers usually advance to management positions after years of employment as scientists. While employed as scientists, they are typically given more responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. Eventually, they may lead research teams and have control over the direction and content of projects before being promoted to an executive position.
Because natural sciences managers typically begin their careers as scientists, most have a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in a scientific discipline or a closely related field such as engineering. Strong scientific and technical knowledge is essential for managers because they must be able to understand the work of their subordinates and provide technical assistance when needed.
Natural sciences managers interested in management that is more technical may earn a traditional master's or Ph.D. degree in a natural science or a master's degree in a science that incorporates business management skills. Those interested in management that is more general may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA).
Given the rapid pace of scientific developments, science managers must continually upgrade their knowledge.
Critical-thinking skills. Natural sciences managers must carefully evaluate the work of others. They must determine if methods and results are based on sound science.
Interpersonal skills. Natural sciences managers lead research teams and need to be able to work well with others toward a common goal.
Leadership skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to organize, direct, and motivate others. They need to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their workers and put the workers in a position to succeed.
Problem-solving skills. Natural sciences managers use scientific observation and analysis to find solutions to complex scientific and technical questions.
Speaking skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to discuss their research projects with clients, top managers, and others who do not have a technical background.
Time-management skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to do multiple administrative, supervisory, and technical tasks while ensuring that projects remain on schedule.
Writing skills. Natural sciences managers write project proposals and reports that detail their research goals and findings.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition