Natural Sciences Managers

Summary

natural sciences managers image
Natural sciences managers hire, supervise, and evaluate scientists, technicians, and other staff.
Quick Facts: Natural Sciences Managers
2012 Median Pay $115,730 per year
$55.64 per hour
Entry-Level Education Bachelor’s degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2012 51,600
Job Outlook, 2012-22 6% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 2,900

What Natural Sciences Managers Do

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists. They direct activities related to research and development, and coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and production.

Work Environment

Natural sciences managers spend most of their time in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Most natural sciences managers work full time.

How to Become a Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers need at least a bachelor’s degree in a natural science or a related field. Most natural sciences managers work as scientists before becoming managers.

Pay

The median annual wage for natural sciences managers was $115,730 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect employment growth for the scientists whom these managers supervise.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of natural sciences managers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about natural sciences managers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Natural Sciences Managers Do

Natural science managers
Natural sciences managers direct research and development projects.

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists. They direct activities related to research and development, and coordinate activities such as testing, quality control, and production.

Duties

Natural sciences managers typically do the following:

  • Work with top executives to develop goals and strategies for researchers and developers
  • Make budgets for projects and programs by determining staffing, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, supervise, and evaluate scientists, technicians, and other staff members
  • Review the methods used in their staff’s work and the accuracy of the work produced
  • Ensure that laboratories are stocked with equipment and supplies
  • Monitor the progress of projects, review research, and draft operational reports
  • Provide technical assistance to scientists, technicians, and support staff
  • Establish and follow administrative procedures, policies, and standards
  • Communicate project proposals, research findings, and the status of projects to clients and top management

Natural sciences managers direct scientific research activities and direct and coordinate product development projects and production activities. Research projects are aimed at improving manufacturing processes, advancing basic scientific knowledge, or developing new products.

Some natural sciences managers are former scientists and, after becoming managers, may continue to conduct their own research in addition to overseeing the work of others. These managers are sometimes called working managers and usually have smaller staffs, allowing them to do research in addition to carrying out their administrative duties.

Managers who are responsible for larger staffs may not have time to contribute to research and may spend all their time performing administrative duties.

Laboratory managers need to ensure that laboratories are fully supplied so that scientists and students can run their tests and experiments.

During all stages of a project, natural sciences managers coordinate the activities of their unit with those of other units or organizations. They work with higher levels of management; with financial, production, and marketing specialists; and with suppliers of equipment and materials.

Work Environment

Natural science managers
Natural sciences managers often present their research findings to other managers, top executives, and clients.

Natural sciences managers held about 51,600 jobs in 2012. Most of the time, they work in offices, but they also may spend time in laboratories. Like managers in other fields, natural sciences managers may spend a large portion of their time using computers and talking to other members of their organization.

Natural sciences managers have different requirements, based on the size of their staff. Working managers who have research responsibilities and smaller staffs may need to work in laboratories or in the field. Managers with larger staffs spend their time primarily in an administrative role and little time doing research or working in the field or in laboratories. Field and laboratory work may require traveling, sometimes to remote locations.

Although natural sciences managers work in many industries, about 1 in 3 natural sciences managers was employed by federal, state, or local government in 2012. Many others worked in industries and businesses that rely on public funding through research grants or on other types of public and private funding.

The industries that employed the most natural sciences managers in 2012 were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences24%
Federal government, excluding postal service21
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing9
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state, local, and private8
State government, excluding education and hospitals7

Work Schedules

Almost all natural sciences managers work full time. Natural sciences managers may need to work longer hours to meet technical or scientific goals on a short deadline or within a tight budget.

How to Become a Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers
Natural sciences managers typically begin their careers as scientists.

Natural sciences managers usually advance to management positions after years of employment as scientists. Natural sciences managers typically have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline or a related field, such as engineering. Some managers may find it advantageous to have an advanced management degree—for example, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

Education

Natural sciences managers typically begin their careers as scientists; therefore, most have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or Ph.D. in a scientific discipline or a closely related field, such as engineering. Scientific and technical knowledge is essential for managers because they must be able to understand the work of their subordinates and be able to provide technical assistance when needed. 

Natural sciences managers who are interested in acquiring postsecondary education in management should be able to find master’s degree or Ph.D. programs in a natural science that incorporate business management courses. Those interested in acquiring general management skills may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Administration (MPA).

Sciences managers must continually upgrade their knowledge because of the rapid growth of scientific developments.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Natural sciences managers usually advance to management positions after years of employment as scientists. While employed as scientists, they typically are 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 administrative position.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Natural sciences managers need to be able communicate clearly to a variety of audiences, such as scientists, policymakers, and the public. Both written and oral communication are important.

Critical-thinking skills. Natural sciences managers must carefully evaluate the work of others. They must determine if their staff’s methods and results are based on sound science.

Interpersonal skills. Natural sciences managers lead research teams and therefore need to be able to work well with others in order to reach common goals. Managers routinely deal with conflict, which they must be able to turn into positive outcomes for their organization.

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 create an environment in which workers can succeed.

Problem-solving skills. Natural sciences managers use scientific observation and analysis to find solutions to complex technical questions.

Time-management skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to do multiple administrative, supervisory, and technical tasks while ensuring that projects remain on schedule.

Pay

Natural Sciences Managers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Natural sciences managers

$115,730

Management occupations

$93,910

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for natural sciences managers was $115,730 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $65,040, and the top 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for natural sciences managers in the top five industries in which these managers worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering,
and life sciences
$155,560
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing116,800
Federal government, excluding postal service107,210
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state,
local, and private
81,340
State government, excluding education and hospitals73,080

Almost all natural sciences managers work full time. They may need to work longer hours to meet technical or scientific goals on a short deadline or within a tight budget.

Job Outlook

Natural Sciences Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Management occupations

7%

Natural sciences managers

6%

 

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect employment growth for the scientists whom these managers supervise. However, job growth for managers is expected to be somewhat slower than that for scientists, because managers tend to be flexible in the number of workers they are able to manage. In addition, research-and-development activities are increasingly being outsourced to specialized scientific research services firms. This outsourcing will lead to some consolidation of management.

Job Prospects

In addition to job openings resulting from employment growth, openings will arise from the need to replace managers who retire or move into other occupations.

Competition for job openings in this occupation is expected to be strong because of its typically higher salaries, greater control over some types of projects, and better access to resources. Experiences can vary widely with the variety of industries and organizations these managers work in. Private industry, government, and colleges and universities will have different goals. Prospective managers should take these differences into consideration when applying for positions.

Employment projections data for Natural Sciences Managers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Natural sciences managers

11-9121 51,600 54,500 6 2,900 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of natural sciences managers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Agricultural and food scientists

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists work to ensure that agricultural establishments are productive and food is safe.

See How to Become One $58,610
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor’s degree $124,870
Biochemists and biophysicists

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, and heredity.

Doctoral or professional degree $81,480
Chemists and materials scientists

Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which substances react with each other. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

Bachelor’s degree $73,060
Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policy makers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor’s degree $63,570
Geoscientists

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.

Bachelor’s degree $90,890
Medical scientists

Medical Scientists

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

Doctoral or professional degree $76,980
Physicists and astronomers

Physicists and Astronomers

Physicists and astronomers study the ways in which various forms of matter and energy interact. Theoretical physicists and astronomers may study the nature of time or the origin of the universe. Physicists and astronomers in applied fields may develop new military technologies or new sources of energy, or monitor space debris that could endanger satellites.

Doctoral or professional degree $106,360
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and vocational subjects beyond the high school level. They also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

See How to Become One $68,970
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Natural Sciences Managers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/natural-sciences-managers.htm (visited October 24, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014