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Scientists find the reasons behind what happens around us. They answer the how and why questions – how does the Earth move around its axis? How is a butterfly born? How do we send a spaceship to Mars and beyond? Why is the sky blue? All these answers come from years of studies and research. Interesting? Do you want to know how to become a Scientist?

Scientists carry out studies, research, and experiments to create new methods for doing things – such as a better method to kill cancer cells using radiation without affecting healthy cells in the human body.

Scientists carry out studies, research, and experiments to create new things and applications – such as a bio-engineered artificial limb, a new source of energy, new materials, new use of humanoid robots, and so on.

Scientific inquiries and studies to find the answers are what set humans superior to any other animals

How to Become a Scientist: 12 Steps You Must Take

Step 1: Ask yourself the question – do you really love Science? Marks in examinations are one aspect but do you really love solving problems in Mathematics and understanding the theories of Physics and Chemistry? Do you think Biology is super interesting?

Step 2: Ask yourself another question – are you really curious and inquisitive about what happens around us? Studying Science subjects in school is one thing, but do you really want to know how and why things happen?

“I am neither clever nor especially gifted. I am only very, very curious.”
Albert Einstein

Step 3: Find out whether you really have what it takes – find out objectively and scientifically. Take the help of expert counselors. Do you really have the aptitudes, skills, interests, and personality suitable for a career in Science?

How to become a Scientist – the first 3 essential steps or questions

Figure 1: How to become a Scientist – the first 3 essential steps or questions

Step 4: Take Science and Mathematics courses in School – in the middle (class 6-8) and high school (9-12). If you are in India, then in upper primary (class 6-8) and secondary (class 9-10). Don’t you like Mathematics? Or Physics? Or Biology? Or Chemistry. This simply won’t do. In school, you must do well in all. These are basics for a future career in any scientific field.

Step 5: Do very well in the basic Science courses in School; this is a MUST – don’t like Mathematics? Or Physics? Or Biology? Or Chemistry. This simply won’t do. In school, you must do very well in all. These are basics for a future career in any scientific field.

Step 6: Choose Science Stream Subjects in Class 11-12 wisely – of course this doesn’t need a mention. Just an important input: It makes sense to keep both Physics and Chemistry along with Mathematics or Biology. You may keep an additional subject such as – Biotechnology, Environmental Science, Computer Science, etc. depending upon your area of interest.

How to become a Scientist – the next 3 steps: what do you study in school?
Figure 2: How to become a Scientist – the next 3 steps: what do you study in school?

Step 7: Choose an appropriate Bachelor’s or Integrated Master’s degree after class 12th – now, the important point here is to choose the major or honours subject as per your future career plan. A future plan is vital at this point. You can still experiment a bit at this level and keep minor or pass subjects – but all these subjects should be able to help you in the future.

Step 8: Specialise in a field of your choice in the Master’s level and build expertise – you have 2 options here – a) If you have done a Bachelor’s, then you can opt for a Master’s degree or an integrated Ph.D. degree. In the USA, this is called a Graduate Degree; b) if you have done an integrated Master’s, go for a Ph.D.

Step 9: Internship – during your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree, internship at research labs of universities or companies is very important. You must be exposed to research methods, procedures, and scientific equipment.
After your Master’s you may find work as a Research Assistant. You may also get a job as an entry level Scientist/Associate but a Ph.D. is a must to make a rewarding career in Science.

How to become a Scientist – Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree
Figure 3: How to become a Scientist – Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree

Step 10: Attend Seminar, Conferences, and Symposiums; network – during your college degree programs and also afterward, attend seminars, conferences, symposiums, and exhibitions in your areas of interest. Network with Scientists in your areas of interest. Keep yourself up to date with the knowledge of what’s happening in your areas of interest.

Step 11: Obtain a Ph.D. – Ph.D. is a tough call if you are in a premier institution in India or abroad or even at an average university in the USA or UK. A Ph.D. after a Master’s may take about 3-5 years. An Integrated Ph.D. after a Bachelor’s may take about 5-7 years. You will be lucky if you can complete within 3/4 years.

Step 12: Do a Post-Doctoral Fellowship – you may get a good job position as a Scientist after your Ph.D. If you do not get, then you must do a Post-Doctoral Fellowship and gain critical research experience. If your work is good, you will definitely get an opportunity in a university, research organisation, or in a company.

How to become a Scientist – Ph.D. & Post-Doctoral Fellowship
Figure 4: How to become a Scientist – Ph.D. & Post-Doctoral Fellowship

15 Best Study Options to Become a Scientist: Educational Pathways

There are several qualification pathways to become a Scientist in India or abroad. The top 15 of the pathways are mentioned below.

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 1 – Biology/Physics/Chemistry/ Other

To become a Scientist, you should get ready for a long haul in preparation. Almost all rewarding jobs come after at least a Ph.D. degree. In this pathway you may take about 8-11 years to obtain a Ph.D. after your senior secondary school. The pathway is given below:

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 1
Figure 5: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 1

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 2 – Biology/Physics/Chemistry/ Other

In this qualification pathway, instead of doing the Ph.D. directly after an M.Sc. / M.S. degree, you can do an M.Phil. first. An M.Phil. is a research-based degree and can be done in 1 or 2 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 2
Figure 6: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 2

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 3 – Engineering/Technology/Engineering Science/Applied Science

This is a qualification pathway to pursue a career in research in Engineering Sciences / in a field of Technology / in a field of Applied Sciences. In this pathway, B.E./B.Tech. courses are of 4 years duration and M.E/M.Tech. courses are of 2 years. So, you will take not less than 9 years to complete a Ph.D.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 3
Figure 7: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 3

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 4 – Biology/Physics/Chemistry/ Other

This qualification pathway to become a Scientist involves doing an Integrated M.Sc. or M.S. course straight after your senior secondary school. However, in this pathway too, you will not take less than 8 years to obtain a Ph.D. after your class 12.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 4
Figure 8: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 4

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 5 – Engineering/Technology/Engineering Science/Applied Science after Master’s in Physics/Chemistry/Biology/Other

This qualification pathway to become a Scientist involves switching from a basic Science area of study into a field of Engineering Science/Applied Science or Technology. In this way, you will take about 10-12 years to obtain a Ph.D. after 12th.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 5
Figure 9: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 5

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 6 – Biology/Physics/Chemistry/ Other

This qualification pathway to become a Scientist involves opting to do an Integrated Ph.D. program right after your bachelor’s degree (either a 3-year B.Sc. degree or a 4-year B.S. degree).

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 6
Figure 10: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 6

What are the best options for you? To know, click here and seek advise from Top Career Counsellor in Mumbai

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 7 – Biology/Physics/Chemistry/ Other

This is a qualification pathway to pursue a doctoral degree in a University in the USA or Canada which requires a 4-year bachelor’s degree for admission into graduate degrees. They refer to post graduate degrees (as in India) as graduate degrees. Graduate degrees include an M.S., M.S. Ph.D. or a Ph.D. degree. For all these, the minimum eligibility requirement is a 4-year bachelor’s or undergraduate degree.

 How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 7
Figure 11: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 7

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 8 – Engineering/Technology/Engineering Science/Applied Science

This qualification pathway shows an option to go for a Ph.D. degree directly after a B.E./B.Tech. /B.S. or a similar bachelor degree which is of 4-year duration. Some Indian Universities offer Integrated Ph.D. You can opt to go for a graduate degree in a University in USA or Canada too after a 4-year bachelor’s degree.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 8
Figure 12: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 8

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 9 – Medical Science/Biological Science (Non-Clinical)/Healthcare Science

This qualification pathway is specifically for those who want to work in front-end areas of research in Medical Science/ Biological Science (Non-Clinical)/ Healthcare Science. This is a long duration pathway. You will not be able to obtain a Ph.D. before 11 years for sure.

 How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 9
Figure 13: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 9

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 10 – Medical Science/Biological Science (Non-Clinical)/Healthcare Science

This qualification pathway too is for those people who want to work in front-end areas of research in Medical Science/ Biological Science (Non-Clinical)/ Healthcare Science. This is also a very long duration pathway. You will not be able to obtain a Ph.D. at least before 12 years of study.

But for Medical Science research, this is one of the two best qualification pathways.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 10
Figure14: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 10

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 11 – Pharmaceutical Sciences/Healthcare Sciences

This qualification pathway is for those who want to pursue a career in research in the areas of Pharmaceutical Sciences or Healthcare Sciences. To obtain a Ph.D. through this pathway, you will take about 9 -10 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 11
Figure 15: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 11

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 12 – Pharmaceutical Sciences/Healthcare Sciences

This qualification pathway too is for those who want to pursue a career in research in the areas of Pharmaceutical Sciences or Healthcare Sciences. To obtain a Ph.D. through this pathway, you will take about 9 -12 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 12
Figure 16: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 12

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 13 – Mathematics / Statistics

This qualification pathway is for those who want to pursue a career in research in various specialised areas of Mathematics or Statistics. To obtain a Ph.D. through this pathway, you will take about 8 -10 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 13
Figure 17: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 13

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 14 – Data Science

This qualification pathway is for those who want to pursue a career in the various areas of Data Science. To obtain a Ph.D. through this pathway, you will take about 8 -10 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 14
Figure 18 Fig 14: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 14

Qualification to become a Scientist: Option 15 – Social Science (Economics /Psychology /Sociology/ Other)

This qualification pathway is for those who want to pursue a career in the various areas of Social Sciences such as Economics, Psychology, Sociology, etc. To obtain a Ph.D. through this pathway, you will take about 8 -10 years.

How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 15
Figure 19: How to Become a Scientist in India: Pathway 15

How to be a Scientist: Entrance Examinations

Entrance Examinations after 12th

  • If you want to do a B.E./ B.Tech. / B.Tech. – M.Tech. / Integrated M.Tech. / Integrated M.Sc. in any of the IITs and NITs, then you will have to appear for JEE Mains. For IITs, if you qualify in the JEE Mains, then you have to appear for the JEE Advanced.
  • If you want to study in countries like the UK, Australia, France, etc., you will have to appear for the IELTS (some Universities may ask for SAT score as well as SAT subject score).
  • For admission to a B.Sc. program in India, most colleges and universities do not take any entrance examinations except a few premier colleges.

Entrance Examinations after B.Sc. or B.S.

  • If you want admission into a 2-year M.Sc. / 5-year M.Sc. – Ph.D. / Integrated Ph.D. program at the IITs and Indian Institute of Science, you will have to qualify in the JAM (Joint Admission Test).
  • If you want admission into an Integrated Ph.D. program or an M.Sc. – Ph.D. program at elite research institutions in India like Bose Institute, IISER, IISc., etc. then you will have to qualify in the JEST (Joint Entrance Screening Test).

Entrance Examinations after B.E. or B.Tech.

  • If you want admission to an Integrated Ph.D. program or an M.Tech. – Ph.D. program at elite research institutions in India like Bose Institute, IISER, IISc., etc. then you will have to qualify in the JEST (Joint Entrance Screening Test).
  • You can qualify in the GATE examination and apply for an M.Tech. degree in select Engineering discipline at IITs, NITs, and some other engineering institutes.

Entrance Examinations after M.Sc. / M.S.

  • You can qualify in the NET (National Eligibility Test) conducted by UGC-CSIR and start working as a Junior Research Fellow or Doctoral Fellow with a University or a research organization and work towards completing your Ph.D.
  • You can qualify in the GATE examination and apply for an M.Tech. degree in a select Engineering discipline at IITs, NITs, and some other engineering institutes.

How to be a Scientist: Job Opportunities

After M.Sc. or M.S.

To become a Scientist, after your M.Sc. or M.S. degree, you can have the following options:

  • You can get a job as a Research Assistant or as a Research Associate with a research organisation, University department, or in the R&D department of a company.
  • You can qualify in the NET (National Eligibility Test) conducted by UGC-CSIR and get a job as an Assistant Professor or a Lecturer in a college or as a Scientist (entry level) with a research organisation.

After Ph.D.

To become a Scientist, after your Ph.D. degree, you can have the following options:

  • You can get a job as a Scientist with a research organisation or with the R&D department of a company.
  • You can get a job as an Assistant Professor at a University.
  • You can go for a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at a University or with a research organisation.

Top Fields of Science for Building a Rewarding Career

If you are wondering about how to become a Research Scientist, the first thing you must do is have a good idea about the top fields of studies and work in Science.

How to Become a Scientist in Mathematics: Top 15 Fields of Mathematical & Computational Sciences

You can specialize in any one of the following fields of Mathematical and Computational Sciences in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  2. Biostatistics
  3. Cloud Computing
  4. Computational Mathematics
  5. Computational Natural Sciences
  6. Computational Physical Sciences
  7. Computer Science
  8. Computer Vision
  9. Cryptology
  10. Cyber Security
  11. Data Sciences
  12. Financial Mathematics
  13. Mathematics
  14. Quantum Computing
  15. Statistics

How to Become a Scientist in Biology: Top 25 Fields of Biological Sciences

You can specialise in any one of the following fields of Biological Sciences in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Astrobiology
  2. Bio Nanotechnology
  3. Biochemistry / Biophysics
  4. Bioenergy
  5. Biological Imaging, Signals & Sensors
  6. Biomedical Sciences
  7. Biopsychology
  8. Biotechnology
  9. Brain Science
  10. Cell & Tissue Engineering Sciences
  11. Cellular and Molecular Biology
  12. Cognitive Sciences
  13. Computational Biology
  14. Computational Neuroscience
  15. Conservation Biology
  16. Ecology & Biodiversity
  17. Food Sciences & Technology
  18. Genetics / Genomics / Proteomics
  19. Immunology
  20. Marine Biotechnology
  21. Marine Ecology and Conservation
  22. Microbial Biotechnology
  23. Microbiology
  24. Molecular Biology
  25. Neuroscience & Neurobiology

How to Become a Scientist in Physics / Chemistry / Related Field: Top 25 Fields of Physical Sciences

You can specialise in any one of the following fields of Physical Sciences in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Astronomy and Astrophysics
  2. Atmospheric Sciences
  3. Cheminformatics
  4. Chemistry
  5. Climate Sciences and Climatology
  6. Computational Physics
  7. Earth Sciences
  8. Environmental Sciences
  9. Forensic Sciences
  10. Geosciences
  11. Geospatial and Geographic Information Systems
  12. Materials Sciences
  13. Mechanics
  14. Medical Physics
  15. Meteorology
  16. Nanoscience
  17. Neurochemistry
  18. Nuclear Physics
  19. Ocean Sciences
  20. Particle Physics
  21. Physics
  22. Planetary Science
  23. Quantum Mechanics
  24. Space Sciences
  25. Toxicology

How to Become a Scientist in Engineering Sciences: Top 30 Fields of Engineering and Engineering Sciences

You can specialise in any one of the following fields of Engineering and Engineering Sciences in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Additive Manufacturing & 3D Printing
  2. Aerospace Engineering
  3. Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  4. Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality Engineering
  5. Bioengineering
  6. Biomedical Engineering
  7. Bionics
  8. Cloud Computing & Information Security
  9. Computer Science & Engineering
  10. Cyber Security & Forensic Computing
  11. Data Science & Engineering
  12. Distributed & Parallel Computing
  13. Embedded Systems and VLSI Design
  14. Geomatics and Geomatics Engineering
  15. Green Technology
  16. Human-Centered Computing
  17. Industrial Automation
  18. Internet of Things
  19. Jet & Rocket Engineering
  20. Manufacturing Engineering
  21. Materials Science and Engineering
  22. Mechatronics Engineering
  23. Molecular & Cellular Engineering
  24. NanoEngineering and Nanotechnologies
  25. Neural Engineering
  26. Quantum Computing
  27. Renewable Energy Technology
  28. Robotics
  29. Space Engineering
  30. Transportation Engineering

How to Become a Scientist in Medical Sciences: Top 30 Fields of Medical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Healthcare

You can specialise in any one of the following fields of Medical Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Healthcare in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Aerospace Medicine
  2. Bacteriology
  3. Cancer Biology
  4. Cardiovascular Science
  5. Clinical Epidemiology
  6. Clinical Translational Science & Research
  7. Diabetes Sciences
  8. Genomic Medicine
  9. Haematology
  10. Human Genetics and Medical Biotechnology
  11. Immunology
  12. Kinesiology
  13. Medical Bioinformatics
  14. Medical Biochemistry/Medical Biophysics
  15. Medical Microbiology
  16. Mobility Science
  17. Molecular Medicine
  18. Molecular Oncology
  19. Medical Epigenomics
  20. Neurobiology
  21. Neuroscience
  22. Oncology
  23. Palliative Medicine
  24. Pharmaceutical and Medicinal Chemistry
  25. Pharmacogenomics & Genetics
  26. Pharmacology
  27. Regenerative Medicine
  28. Reproductive Medicine
  29. Sports and Exercise Sciences
  30. Virology

How to Become a Scientist in Social Sciences: Top 25 Fields of Social Sciences

You can specialise in any one of the following fields of Social Sciences in your Master’s and Ph.D. studies to become a Scientist.

  1. Applied Sociology
  2. Behavioral Economics
  3. Clinical Psychology
  4. Community Science
  5. Criminology
  6. Cyberpsychology
  7. Developmental Economics
  8. Econometrics
  9. Economics
  10. Family Science / Home Science
  11. Financial Economics
  12. Gender Studies
  13. Globalization Studies
  14. Health Economics
  15. Human Ecology
  16. Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  17. Industrial Sociology
  18. International Economics
  19. International Studies
  20. Political Science
  21. Population Studies
  22. Psychology
  23. Rehabilitation Science
  24. Social Epidemiology
  25. Social Science

List of the Top 60 Research Institutions and Research Universities in India

The following list does not indicate any ranking order.

  1. Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences, Nainital
  2. Bose Institute Kolkata
  3. CSIR-Advanced Materials and Processes Research Institute (CSIR-AMPRI), Bhopal
  4. CSIR-Central Drug Research Institute (CSIR-CDRI), Lucknow
  5. CSIR-Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-CEERI), Pilani
  6. CSIR-Central Food Technological Research Institute (CSIR-CFTRI), Mysore
  7. CSIR-Centre for Cellular Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad
  8. CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (CSIR-IICB), Kolkata
  9. CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (CSIR-IICT), Hyderabad
  10. CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine (CSIR-IIIM), UT of J&K
  11. CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), Delhi
  12. CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH), Chandigarh
  13. CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL), Bengaluru
  14. CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory (CSIR-NCL), Pune
  15. CSIR-National Geophysical Research Institute (CSIR-NGRI), Hyderabad
  16. CSIR-National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology (CSIR-NIIST), Thiruvananthapuram
  17. CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography (CSIR-NIO), Goa
  18. CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL), New Delhi
  19. Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad
  20. Homi Bhabha National Institute, Mumbai
  21. ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata
  22. ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology, Chennai
  23. Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
  24. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Bhopal
  25. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata
  26. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali
  27. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune
  28. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Thiruvananthapuram
  29. Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Tirupathi
  30. Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
  31. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
  32. Indian Institute of Technology Chennai
  33. Indian Institute of Technology Delhi
  34. Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati
  35. Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur
  36. Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur
  37. Indian Institute of Technology Mumbai
  38. Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee
  39. Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam
  40. Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar
  41. Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar
  42. International centre for theoretical sciences (TIFR), Bangalore
  43. Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune
  44. Jadavpur University Kolkata
  45. Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore
  46. Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi
  47. National Brain Research Centre, Manesar
  48. National Centre for Radio Astrophysics, TIFR, Pune
  49. National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneswar
  50. Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad
  51. Presidency University, Kolkata
  52. Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology, Indore
  53. Raman Research Institute, Bangalore
  54. Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata
  55. Satyendra Nath Bose National Centre for Basic Sciences, Kolkata
  56. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai
  57. The Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Chennai
  58. TIFR Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences, Hyderabad
  59. UGC-DAE Consortium for Scientific Research, Indore
  60. Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata

Conclusion

You should be pretty clear now about your query on how to become a Scientist or how to become a Scientist in India. You know about the qualification pathways to pursue a career in Science. But to be honest, not everyone has what it takes in terms of aptitudes, personalities, and interests.

If you still want to say, ‘I want to become a Scientist’, then you must assess your true potential from a professional career counsellor. Understand what it really takes and whether you have it in you. You can avail iDreamCareer’s special services for that. Choose one:

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