How to become a scientist: 15 steps (with pictures)

How to become a scientist: 15 steps (with pictures)
How to become a scientist: 15 steps (with pictures)

Scientists do research to understand how the universe or specific parts of the universe work. They make hypotheses from the first observations, then they test those hypotheses by making new observations and experiments through which they measure the results that confirm or disprove the hypotheses. Scientists generally work in universities, companies or government entities. If you want to become a scientist, you are on a path that will be long, exciting and busy.


Part 1 of 3: setting the stage

Become a Scientist Step 1

Step 1. Choose the right options in high school

From high school and then at university, you must choose courses that give you the qualities of analysis and reflection that you will need as a scientist. This is an important point for you to achieve your goal.

  • You must have a solid foundation in math. Physicists rely heavily on mathematics, especially algebra, calculus and analytical geometry, while biologists use these materials less often. All scientists must also have a good level of statistics.
  • Take part in science camps when you are in high school. This will give you the opportunity to work on more complex projects than those offered in high school science lessons.
Become a Scientist Step 2

Step 2. Start by learning the basics

You will specialize in a discipline later, in the meantime you must take normal courses in biology, chemistry and physics in order to acquire the basics in each science, while getting used to the scientific methods of observing, formulating hypotheses. and experiment. You can also select courses according to your interests or discover others to help you choose your future specialty. In a year or two, you will be able to get involved in a more specific branch of science.

It may also be helpful to have skills in one or two languages ​​in order to be able to read scientific articles that have not been translated into French. The most useful languages ​​are English, German or Russian

Become a Scientist Step 3

Step 3. Choose your main subject based on an area that is particularly intriguing to you

After having tasted all the fields and found which direction you are going to give to your career, choose to direct you in such or such scientific branch. For example, will you choose astronomy? Medicine ? Psychology ? Genetic ? Agronomy?

If you prefer or didn't have enough options in high school to be able to make a decision right away, you can wait a bit before committing to a subject. You can just choose a fairly general major such as chemistry

Become a Scientist Step 4

Step 4. Do an internship

It is advisable to network and start doing research as soon as possible. Contact one of your teachers in order to do an internship. Perhaps you will be able to get your name associated with an article published in a scientific journal.

This will allow you to have research laboratory experience under your belt, which is very useful for getting accepted into the upper grades and getting into a good position a bit later. It shows that you were motivated from an early age and understood what was expected of you

Become a Scientist Step 5

Step 5. Brush up on your writing skills

You should also be able to write like a scientist, both to get scholarships for your work and to be able to publish it in scientific journals. French and English classes in high school and university will help you improve your skills.

Read scientific journals regularly and keep up to date with the latest findings in your field. You too will be published in these same journals one day. Take a look at what a good scientific article looks like

Part 2 of 3: Get a higher education

Become a Scientist Step 6

Step 1. Go to college

Although it is possible to reach certain positions in industry or commerce with a bac or bac + 2, most scientists have at least a master's degree and more likely a doctorate. Postgraduate training is more oriented towards research and development of new theories and is done alongside scientists and advanced technologies. Most of these courses last at least 4 years, depending on the nature of the research.

At this point, you need to choose a specialty that is relevant to your field of study and that is of great interest to you. It will make your work more unique and your competition area smaller

Become a Scientist Step 7

Step 2. Find a research internship in a large geographic area

At university, you should look for a research internship related to your specialty. The number of professors working in the same branch is certainly quite low, which means that you have to be prepared to go anywhere to find what you want.

Your university and professors will be very helpful in helping you find an internship. Use the network you have built up to find an internship that will fit you like a glove

Become a Scientist Step 8

Step 3. Do a thesis and a postdoc

The thesis and the postdoc allow you to acquire additional experience in the specialty in which you have chosen to practice. Starting at 2 years, these programs can now last at least 4 years, depending on your area of ​​research and a few other factors.

On top of that, you will then need to do 3 or more years of postdoctoral research. If you add up the 3 years of high school, the 5 years of higher education and the 3 years of thesis, this means that you will need a good dozen years before actually working. We must be aware of this delay very early on

Become a Scientist Step 9

Step 4. Keep your knowledge up to date

During your decade of training (and your career), you need to keep abreast of advances in your field and the research of your colleagues by attending conferences and reading scientific journals. Science is constantly evolving. You could find yourself overwhelmed in a fraction of a second.

In smaller fields of research (and in a few large ones), you will quickly recognize all the authors of scientific journals. By reading them, you will be able to know who to ask for help when you need it

Become a Scientist Step 10

Step 5. Continue your research and look for a full time job

Scientists are always working on a project or an idea. No matter where you are in your career, it will be. However, after your postdoc you will need a job. Here are some common opportunities to grab:

  • Science teacher. The title speaks for itself. This position does not necessarily require a high level of education (it depends on the level at which you want to teach). In some areas of research, you must have the credits to teach.
  • Scientist in clinical laboratory. Many scientists work for large companies or for the government. You must start by being an Associate Clinical Investigator. You will work on experiments related to emerging drugs. You will need to gather data and monitor procedures to be sure protocols are being followed. Then you can do analyzes for the projects you are working on, develop products (like vaccines) or sometimes even work with patients, physicists or even technicians about laboratory procedures.
  • Professor. Many scientists also have the goal of becoming full professors. It is a remunerative activity that offers job security and you will be able to have a great influence. However, be aware that it can take decades to get there.

Part 3 of 3: having the right mindset

Become a Scientist Step 11

Step 1. Be curious

Scientists choose to do this profession because they are fundamentally curious about the world around them and how things work. Curiosity leads them to research the why and the how of what they have in front of them, even if it takes years.

Coupled with curiosity, they also have the ability to reject preconceptions and be open to new ideas. It often happens that a hypothesis formulated in the first place cannot be proved by subsequent observations and experiments and has to be modified or rejected

Become a Scientist Step 12

Step 2. Arm yourself with patience to climb the ranks

As was briefly touched on above, becoming a scientist takes a long time. Few other professions evolve as slowly as this one. Even if you have teaching activities, you are still doing research. If you're someone who needs instant gratification, this job might not be the one for you.

Some trades only require a bachelor's degree and others a master's degree. If you can't afford to wait a decade to make money, these trades can be viable alternatives

Become a Scientist Step 13

Step 3. Be diligent and persistent because you have chosen a difficult profession

It is recognized that "given the intelligence quotient that it takes, knowledge and hours of work, scientists are among the lowest paid people." The length of the road to success implies that you won't be living in luxury for a while. You may even need to tighten your belt.

You will also have to meet deadlines, work countless hours and whenever your job requires it. All of these factors combined make it hard work, hard to keep up with

Become a Scientist Step 14

Step 4. Have a constant urge to learn

All scientists are primarily concerned with acquiring knowledge. Whether it's reading scientific journals, attending seminars, or working on your own publications, you will always be learning. Does this look like a normal Tuesday? If so, you may not have done the right thing.

Become a Scientist Step 15

Step 5. Be patient, observant, and take your thoughts out of the ordinary

No research work is done in a day, a week, a month, and often not even a year. In most cases, like in clinical trials for example, you won't have results for several years. It is really not rewarding. But a good scientist has to be patient.

  • It is necessary to have good observation skills. During all those years of waiting for your results, you have to constantly look for small changes in what you are experiencing. You need to be focused and attentive at all times.
  • When it comes to thinking outside the normal frame, remember Newton's apple falling on his head or Archimedes jumping into his tub to move the water. Most people would think nothing about these events, but these gentlemen were more inspired to think of something that no one else had thought of. To make great strides on the path to knowledge, you have to think differently.


The ACRP offers three certificates for clinical research professionals: Certified Associate Investigator, Certified Research Coordinator, and Research Physicist. You must pass an exam before you can practice


  • Given the large number of doctoral candidates for professorships or positions in companies, potential scientists may have to complete a series of postdocs before landing a permanent position.
  • Being a scientist takes a lot of patience. There are as many chances of failure as there are chances of success, so you must be prepared to accept the results as they come.

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