Postdoctoral Researcher Career Path
How To Become a ResearcherIf you enjoy making discoveries and finding obscure facts, consider a career as a researcher. To become a professional researcher, follow these steps:
Choose a subject to research.
The first step to becoming a researcher is deciding what you're interested in and what you want to research. A scientist who conducts experiments or studies will need different knowledge and training than a data analyst, an archeologist, or a historical researcher. Think about whether you would rather spend most of your time in an office or work in a lab. Many researchers also spend some of their time traveling to gather information from specific people or locations.
Get an education in the field you wish to research.
Researchers need at least a bachelor's degree. If you're not sure about what you want to research, consider a degree in general clinical research, statistics, or data analysis. If you want to work on scientific research, you should study biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, math, or a similar subject. Engineering researchers may study aerospace, industrial, or mechanical engineering. No matter what major you select, you should also take courses about math, statistics, the scientific method, and how to conduct accurate research. To lead a research project, people usually need a doctorate. In some fields, researchers with master's degrees occasionally lead projects.
Gain some experience as a research assistant.
While you're getting your education, acquire some hands-on experience at a more entry-level position. You can apply for an internship or a position as a research assistant. This gives you a chance to learn from experienced researchers and expand your professional network. Many universities give students the opportunity to participate in research projects, especially those who already have a bachelor's degree. Studying for a doctorate in many subjects involves working with others on a research project and an academic paper.
Make sure you mention your experience and accomplishments on your resume. Talk about the results of any studies you helped conduct, and include numbers and statistics. Make your application more attractive to screening software by using many of the same keywords that appear in the job description. That way, you'll be more likely to get an interview.
Improve your skills.
Researchers in different industries often need many of the same skills. While you learn more about your field and gain experience, work on improving your skills. You'll need excellent written and verbal communication skills to cooperate with other researchers and create clear summaries of your work. Critical thinking and attention to detail are essential, as well. A small variable that's missed or counted incorrectly could alter the results of an entire research project. This means you'll need to create meticulous records of every study's methodology as well as its results.
To be a researcher, you'll also need to be very patient. Some projects take years to complete, and you probably won't be directly involved with the people who use the results of your research to develop new products or procedures.
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Postdoctoral Researcher Career Path
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