Natural Sciences Managers

Summary

natural sciences managers image
Laboratory managers ensure that laboratories are stocked with equipment and supplies.
Quick Facts: Natural Sciences Managers
2014 Median Pay $120,050 per year
$57.71 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation 5 years or more
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2014 55,100
Job Outlook, 2014-24 3% (Slower than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 1,800

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 $120,050 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for natural sciences managers.

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
  • Budget resources for projects and programs by determining staffing, training, and equipment needs
  • Hire, supervise, and evaluate scientists, technicians, and other staff members
  • Review staff members’ methodology and the accuracy of their research results
  • Ensure that laboratories are stocked with equipment and supplies
  • Monitor the progress of projects, review research performed, 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. The duties of natural sciences managers vary with the field of science (for example, biology or chemistry) or the industry they work in. Research projects may be 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 as well as oversee 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 can run their tests and experiments. Some specialize in the management of laboratory animals.

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 55,100 jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most natural sciences managers were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 28%
Federal government, excluding postal service 19
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 9
Management of companies and enterprises 7
State government, excluding education and hospitals 6

Although natural sciences managers work in many industries, about 1 in 4 of natural sciences managers were employed by federal and state governments in 2014. Many others worked in industries and businesses that rely on public funding through research grants or on other types of public and private funding.

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 expend little time doing research or working in the field or in laboratories. Field and laboratory work may require traveling, sometimes to remote locations.

Work Schedules

Almost all natural sciences managers work full time. About 2 out of 5 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

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 helpful to have an advanced management degree—for example, a Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degree, 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 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. A relatively new type of degree, called the Professional Science Master’s (PSM), blends advanced training in a particular science field with business skills, such as communications and program management, and policy. Those interested in acquiring general management skills may pursue a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a Master of Public Administration (MPA). Some natural sciences managers will have studied psychology or some other management-related field to enter this occupation.

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although certification is not typically required to become a natural sciences manager, many relevant certifications are available. These certifications range from those related to specific scientific areas of study or practice, such as laboratory animal management, to general management topics, such as project management, and are useful to natural sciences managers regardless of the organization being managed.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to 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 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 the 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 2014

Natural sciences managers

$120,050

Other management occupations

$84,800

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for natural sciences managers was $120,050 in May 2014. 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 $70,020, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $187,200.

In May 2014, the median annual wages for natural sciences managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Management of companies and enterprises $156,230
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 149,850
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing 122,820
Federal government, excluding postal service 109,390
State government, excluding education and hospitals 75,110

Almost all natural sciences managers work full time. About 2 out of 5 worked more than 40 hours per week in 2014.

Job Outlook

Natural Sciences Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Total, all occupations

7%

Other management occupations

4%

Natural sciences managers

3%

 

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, 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 jobs 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, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Natural sciences managers

11-9121 55,100 56,900 3 1,800 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

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 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Agricultural and food scientists

Agricultural and Food Scientists

Agricultural and food scientists research ways to improve the efficiency and safety of agricultural establishments and products.

Bachelor's degree $60,690
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

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

Bachelor's degree $130,620
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, heredity, and disease.

Doctoral or professional degree $84,940
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 the substances interact with one another. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.

Bachelor's degree $74,720
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 policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor's degree $66,250
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 $89,910
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 $79,930
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. Some physicists design and perform experiments with sophisticated equipment such as particle accelerators, electron microscopes, and lasers.

Doctoral or professional degree $109,290
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

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

See How to Become One $70,790

Contacts for More Information

For more information about Professional Science Master’s programs, visit

Professional Science Master’s

National Professional Science Master’s Association

For general information about science careers and news, including articles on natural science management, visit

American Association for the Advancement of Science

To find job openings for natural sciences managers in the federal government, visit

USAJOBS

O*NET

Clinical Research Coordinators

Natural Sciences Managers

Water Resource Specialists

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Natural Sciences Managers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/natural-sciences-managers.htm (visited February 09, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015