Media, Marketing & Communications

"We are all about creative ways to engage Australians with science, and the first step in that process is to have people with a strong background in science." DR PAUL WILLIS, DIRECTOR OF THE ROYAL INSTITUTION OF AUSTRALIA

Science and a knack for engaging people may seem an unlikely combination, but the field of media, marketing and communications is a gold mine of career opportunities for graduates who are trained in science and have a flair for getting a message across to an audience.

Over the last 20 years, the burgeoning field of science communication in Australia is proving that it is no longer enough to simply do science. We now have to engage people, particularly those who are not currently interested in science, and inspire them to think about how science works and what it means to their daily lives.

Science reporter at the Sydney Morning Herald, Nicky Phillips, who has a Bachelor of Science, says scientific training is a valuable skill to possess as a reporter given that many of today's issues - from climate change, water availability and population dynamics - are science-based.

In the highly sought-after media industry, there are a number of journalism positions specifically set aside for science graduates across print, TV and radio. In Australia, these can be mostly found at science magazines such as Cosmos and New Scientist, the ABC and trade publications.

However, Ms Phillips says a good science journalist must be a good reporter first and foremost. For this reason, she recommends combining your science degree with practical experience in journalism as the best bet for landing your first job as a science reporter.

'The best advice I could give any budding science reporter is to apply for internships. The best way to be considered for a job is to be right under the editor's nose as a newsroom intern,'' she says. Ms Phillips also suggests joining organisations such as the Australian Science Communicators to meet like-minded people.

Science graduates can also find jobs in science communication and media relations, working as communication officers for universities, research institutes like the CSIRO, museums and pharmaceutical companies. As a communication officer, your role is to implement your organisation's communication strategy and to raise its profile though websites and other e-communication tools, producing print publications and communications (reports, press releases, etc.), and organising events and press conferences.

Dr Paul Willis, Director of the Royal Institution of Australia (RiAus) – a leading science communication hub – says that science graduates are an essential part of their product. "We've probably got more graduates with PhDs on staff for the size of our workforce than most universities! We are all about creative ways to engage Australians with science, and the first step in that process is to have people with a strong background in science," he says.

Closely tied to the field of communications is marketing – the industry concerned with identifying, satisfying and keeping customers. Marketing can be a fruitful career destination for science graduates, depending on your skill set.

If you are always on the leading edge of social and internet culture, with an innate understanding of what people want, then you may be perfect as a product/brand manager, responsible for marketing and developing products such as gaming consoles, shoes, and even university courses. If, on the other hand, you have stellar analytical skills, you may find your niche as a market researcher, who uses quantitative data to understand the behaviour of consumers and what drives them to buy iPhones or Android phones.

According to Dr Willis, a science graduate's degree is a tool kit that
will equip you with creative ways of solving the problems you will encounter in almost any job. The added skill of communicating with people, he says, is an effective way of extending that tool kit, allowing you to use your expertise in other useful ways.

"If you have a solid degree in science, you are able to do just about anything. If you have stellar communications skills on top of that, you can tell the world about almost anything."

Trends and salaries

  • Media and Communications is a changing landscape: The media is changing very rapidly and it is difficult to predict the future. While some areas such as print are under pressure, non-traditional media outlets such as the internet are gaining new business at a high rate.
  • New Media Future: Journalists, science communicators and marketers will need to use modern technology and communication media – videos, interactive graphics, new technologies and social media – to present information in new and different ways.

Average salaries:

  • TV, film and radio: $78,000
  • Media booking: $74,000
  • Publishing: $96,000


Industry bodies

Government bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in a course from one of the following areas to prepare for a career in Media, Marketing and Communications, with a natural sciences focus.

Learn more about our courses »