Pretty much every industry has some glaring problems that have yet to be addressed – change comes slowly, but it does come and we strive to improve. However, with the scientific industry some of the problems are not that obvious or easy to resolve. As you would expect from a group of highly educated and skilled intellectuals, things tend to get a bit complicated. While some people are content to be academics and focus on teaching, a number of scientists feel that there is much more opportunity to actually make a difference in the industrial sector and the fact that there is more money involved is a great motivation as well. However, a career in science involves some sacrifices.
For instance, working for a company means that a scientist doesn’t have a lot of freedom when it comes to research. You will be paid to do to a job, and like with any job the higher-ups will expect results and have you follow strict rules. Higher education also means devoting yourself full-time to studying and researching, all the way through your mid and late twenties. So those looking for a job will need to wait quite a bit before they earn their doctorates.
It’s a very competitive environment
The nature of the industry itself doesn’t always allow for a relatively seamless transition from studying to getting a job. Simply put, there is a lot of competition. Companies have a big pool of skilled scientists to choose from and there are a lot of highly educated immigrants with PhD’s coming to the country. The Australian government is providing incentive for scientists from all over the world to come to Australia, where they have a job waiting for them. This means that young scientists will be up against a huge number of very capable competitors. Employees are often needed for a part-time position or are recruited for a particular project, so even if a person gets chosen out of the mass of eager scientists they don’t necessarily have job security.
It’s often hard to keep up with technology
As previously mentioned the technology used in a number of different fields evolves very rapidly and keeping up with it requires constant training. On the most basic level, even things like data entry and writing reports requires a proficiency and digital literacy, and not everyone feels comfortable with the software. A lot of the time employers will assume that everyone already knows how to use existing software optimally or they expect you to catch up on the fly. For someone who has already spent a good part of their life studying and improving their knowledge in a very specialized area this presents an additional burden and can lead to dissatisfaction and lack of motivation. Companies that offer training can keep their employees engaged and improve productivity, but this way of getting everyone up to speed is often neglected. More often than not people will be left to their own devices.
All in all, devoting life to science is a noble cause, and there is both money to be made and an opportunity to produce some tangible results in the field of industrial science, but starting a career in this field is a difficult endeavor that requires tons of dedication and patience.