Bureau of Labor Statistics

Natural Sciences Managers

natural sciences managers image
Laboratory managers review staff members’ methodology and the accuracy of their research results.
Quick Facts: Natural Sciences Managers
2020 Median Pay $137,940 per year
$66.32 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, 2020 79,000
Job Outlook, 2020-30 6% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2020-30 4,500

Summary

What Natural Sciences Managers Do

Natural sciences managers supervise the work of scientists, including chemists, physicists, and biologists.

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 $137,940 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 6,000 openings for natural sciences managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

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
  • Monitor the progress of projects, review research performed, and draft operational reports
  • Ensure that laboratories are stocked with equipment and supplies
  • 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 (such as 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 equipment and materials suppliers.

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 79,000 jobs in 2020. The largest employers of natural sciences managers were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences 34%
Manufacturing 16
Federal government, excluding postal service 14
State government, excluding education and hospitals 5
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 4

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. Managers with larger staffs spend their time primarily in offices performing administrative duties and spend little time doing research or working in the field or in laboratories. Working managers who have research responsibilities and smaller staffs may need to work in laboratories or in the field, which may require traveling, sometimes to remote locations.

Work Schedules

Most natural sciences managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

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.

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. Professional Science Master’s (PSM) degree programs blend advanced training in a particular science field, such as biotechnology or environmental science, 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 work several years in the sciences before advancing to management positions. 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 managerial 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.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Natural sciences managers must be able to communicate clearly with 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 answers to complex technical questions.

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

Pay

Natural Sciences Managers

Median annual wages, May 2020

Natural sciences managers

$137,940

Other management occupations

$95,180

Total, all occupations

$41,950

 

The median annual wage for natural sciences managers was $137,940 in May 2020. 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 $71,400, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000.

In May 2020, the median annual wages for natural sciences managers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences $172,990
Manufacturing 146,000
Management, scientific, and technical consulting services 126,780
Federal government, excluding postal service 123,190
State government, excluding education and hospitals 86,280

Most natural sciences managers work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week.

Job Outlook

Natural Sciences Managers

Percent change in employment, projected 2020-30

Other management occupations

9%

Total, all occupations

8%

Natural sciences managers

6%

 

Employment of natural sciences managers is projected to grow 6 percent from 2020 to 2030, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

About 6,000 openings for natural sciences managers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Employment growth should be affected by many of the same factors that affect employment growth for the scientists whom these managers supervise. Job growth for managers is projected to increase at roughly the same rate as those for life scientists and physical scientists, but 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.

Employment projections data for natural sciences managers, 2020-30

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

Occupational Title

Natural sciences managers

SOC Code11-9121
Employment, 202079,000
Projected Employment, 203083,500
Percent Change, 2020-306
Numeric Change, 2020-304,500
Employment by IndustryGet data

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) 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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 2020 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 $68,830
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 $149,530
Biochemists and biophysicists Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes.

Doctoral or professional degree $94,270
Chemists and materials scientists Chemists and Materials Scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and analyze the ways in which the substances interact with one another.

Bachelor's degree $80,680
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.

Bachelor's degree $73,230
Geoscientists Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth.

Bachelor's degree $93,580
Medical scientists Medical Scientists

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health.

Doctoral or professional degree $91,510
Physicists and astronomers Physicists and Astronomers

Physicists and astronomers study the interactions of matter and energy.

Doctoral or professional degree $128,950
Postsecondary teachers Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level.

See How to Become One $80,560

Contacts for More Info

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

Professional Science Master’s

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

CareerOneStop

For a career video on natural sciences managers, visit

Natural Sciences Managers

O*NET

Clinical Research Coordinators

Natural Sciences Managers

Water Resource Specialists

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Natural Sciences Managers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/natural-sciences-managers.htm (visited November 23, 2021).

Telephone: 1-202-691-5700 www.bls.gov/ooh Contact OOH

View this page on regular www.bls.gov

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