Sustainable development in healthcare

How to Become a Natural Sciences Manager

Duties, Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Sustainable development in healthcare

While research labs may not stack up with emergency rooms when it comes to generating storylines for TV dramas, scientific breakthroughs in a number of fields are responsible for saving more lives than just about anything else in history. And from pharmaceutical research to product development, scientific research teams need experienced leadership to keep their projects on track and maintain a safe and productive working environment. Natural sciences managers play a critical role in nearly any research environment by overseeing scientists’ work and ensuring the lab is properly equipped to carry out its purposes.

If you’re a person that possesses equal parts scientific curiosity and leadership ambitions, becoming a natural sciences manager could be the ideal career choice for you! You’ll get to dive into the details of lab research, as well as think bigger about the overall success of your organization. Of course, the opportunity to earn a great living is also a nice plus! Natural sciences managers recently claimed the top spot on our list of the highest-paying public health jobs in 2021.

This career guide will teach you everything you need to know about becoming a natural sciences manager, including the educational requirements, necessary certifications, and some of the daily responsibilities you can expect on the job. You may also be pleasantly surprised at how long it takes to become a natural sciences manager—it’s a career that’s achievable in less time than you might think!

Not sure if becoming a natural sciences manager is the right career path for you? Click here to see our full list of the highest-paying public health jobs.

Natural Sciences Manager Definition

What is a Natural Sciences Manager?

Natural sciences managers lead scientists and lab staff teams as they work on research and development projects or perform other functions like product testing or quality control. Many natural sciences managers are former scientists themselves, who have since worked their way up into leadership positions. Some natural sciences managers still actively participate in research, while those who work with larger organizations may focus entirely on administrative duties.

Natural Sciences Manager: Job Description

What Does a Natural Sciences Manager Do?

Natural sciences managers are involved in just about every aspect of running a successful laboratory or research environment. For example, they may be responsible for securing the lab’s supply chain, overseeing methodologies and scientific processes, or their department or facility’s budgets and revenue streams. Frequently, natural sciences managers will collaborate with marketing, sales, or production specialists to create strategies and action plans that impact the overall success of their organization. It’s a dynamic career with the opportunity to wear many different hats and one where every day offers a new challenge.

Natural Sciences Manager Duties

Some of the day-to-day responsibilities of natural sciences managers include:

  • Hiring, training, and supervising scientists and lab technicians
  • Reviewing scientific methodologies and processes for accuracy and reliability
  • Providing technical assistance to scientists and lab staff as necessary
  • Monitoring project progress and delivering reports to leadership or investors
  • Working with executives to develop big-picture goals and strategies
  • Ensuring laboratories or research facilities are adequately stocked with necessary equipment and supplies

Two healthcare professionals having a discussion

Natural Sciences Manager Skills

Critical-thinking skills and attention to detail are particularly important traits for natural sciences managers. They’re responsible for ensuring the staff under their supervision is practicing sound science and generating reliable data. Communication and interpersonal skills are equally crucial, as you’ll need to be able to understand and speak to the concerns of everyone from lab techs to top-level executives. Finally, exceptional time-management abilities are a must for natural sciences managers, as keeping a lab environment running smoothly requires a lot of multitasking and switching between different duties.

Where Do Natural Sciences Managers Work?

Natural sciences managers split their time between office and laboratory environments, with the exact ratio varying somewhat between different jobs. Most natural sciences manager jobs are with scientific research and development companies, pharmaceutical and medical manufacturers, or government organizations. Specialized consulting and management organizations also employ a significant amount of natural sciences managers. 40-hour workweeks are relatively common, and working hours tend to be fairly standard, outside of occasional events like fundraisers or trade shows.

Natural Sciences Manager Schooling & Certification

How Long Does It Take to Become a Natural Sciences Manager?

What Degree Do You Need to Be a Natural Sciences Manager?

In order to effectively manage, train, and lead other scientists, natural sciences managers need advanced math and science skills and plenty of practical experience. That means you’ll need at least a bachelor’s degree to pursue a career as a natural sciences manager. While traditional bachelor’s degree programs require a full four years in school, some accelerated degree programs can be completed in just two and a half years. Most natural sciences managers get their bachelor’s degree in a scientific discipline like biology, chemistry, or physics, or in related fields like engineering or mathematics.

The top-earning natural sciences managers almost always complete a postsecondary degree—often a master’s degree in their chosen scientific field or a healthcare-focused master’s program like a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree. Many master’s degree programs require another two to three years in school, but just like your bachelor’s degree, you can finish your MPH degree much faster with an accelerated degree program. Some MPH programs can even be completed entirely online in as few as 63 weeks!

Like any other long-term goal, becoming a natural sciences manager can be broken down into a series of smaller steps, which can keep you on track and make the final outcome feel much more attainable.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to the education, experience, and certifications you’ll need to become a natural sciences manager:

Student completing the admissions process

1. Enroll in a STEM-Focused Bachelor’s Degree Program

The first step in your natural sciences manager training is enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program from an accredited college or university. For a future career as a natural sciences manager, you’ll want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in one of the major scientific disciplines or related fields like mathematics or engineering. After all, to effectively lead other scientists, you’ll need to have a thorough understanding of the concepts and principles that go into their day-to-day work.

2. Earn Your Bachelor of Science Degree

To succeed as a natural sciences manager, you’ll need to have highly developed math, scientific, and statistical skills and become an effective leader and communicator. Throughout your bachelor’s degree program, you’ll take a variety of courses that will help you become a better critical thinker and organizer.

During a STEM-focused bachelor’s degree program, you’ll spend lots of time in classes mastering the fundamentals of math, science, and technology. You’ll also need to complete courses in other general-education subjects like literature, psychology, and communications. There’s a reason all these classes are a required part of any bachelor’s degree program—they’ll make you a more well-rounded person and professional and help you discover new interests and talents.

As you advance through your bachelor’s degree program, you’ll progress to higher-level courses in your chosen scientific field and have plenty of opportunities for hands-on scientific work in a laboratory setting. These core skills will carry you throughout your career as a natural sciences manager, as you’ll be looked up to by your lab staff to provide guidance on scientific best practices and principles.

3. Earn Your Master of Public Health (MPH) Degree

While earning a bachelor’s degree will make it possible to get your foot in the door with some scientific jobs, people who progress into management roles usually need to earn a master’s degree like a Master of Public Health (MPH). An MPH program is where you’ll polish the advanced leadership and project management skills you’ll need to manage complex research facilities and multifaceted scientific teams.

Your public health master’s program will build upon your bachelor’s degree with courses like epidemiology and biostatistics and teach you about other areas like occupational and environmental health. In addition, you’ll learn about management skills in the context of healthcare and scientific environments and study how to create effective organizational policies.

At the end of your MPH program, you’ll need to complete a capstone course where you’ll apply the statistical methods you’ve learned to some aspect of public health. This capstone will demonstrate your ability to interpret and analyze the large data sets that natural sciences managers use to monitor their lab staff’s performance and help their facility operate more effectively.

Natural Sciences Manager Salary

How Much Do Natural Sciences Managers Make?

Natural sciences managers earn an excellent living, particularly those with the most experience and education. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that natural sciences managers across the country earn an average annual salary* of nearly $156,000, which works out to over $75 per hour. Those among the top 25% of earners average at least $202,000 per year, while the top 10% of salaries for natural sciences managers can reach $208,000 or more.

Healthcare symbols hovering over a laptop and stethoscope

Natural Sciences Manager Job Outlook

What is the Job Outlook for Natural Sciences Managers?

Medical and scientific research continues to be a major industry in the United States, which means natural sciences managers will continue to be in demand. According to the BLS, overall employment of natural sciences managers is expected to grow around 6% by the year 2030, which is right in line with the growth rate for all other jobs. That means thousands of new natural sciences manager jobs will become available every year!

Ready to Start Your Career as a Natural Sciences Manager?

If you’re searching for a career where you’ll get to combine technical skills with administrative and leadership abilities, becoming a natural sciences manager could be the ideal career for you! You’ll get to be a part of important work that drives life-saving advances in medicine and public health, and you’ll be well-compensated for your unique mix of scientific expertise and people skills.

Ready to start taking steps toward a long and fulfilling career as a natural sciences manager? Click here to learn more about the MPH program at Brookline College and get started on the road to your new career in public health today!