"The research you carry out or what you discover may actually change the lives of millions of people in the future." LEANNE HARVEY, ACTING CEO OF THE AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH COUNCIL

Working as a research scientist is one of the most interesting, exciting, fulfilling and flexible jobs you can do. Imagine working underwater to investigate tropical reef systems, or at the top of the highest mountain ranges to uncover the geological processes of mountain formation, or in a chemistry lab creating new molecules that will help us produce green energy. Imagine working at the forefront of quantum computing or developing new medicines or investigating how the brain stores and recalls memories.

There are no limits to the possibilities of working as a research scientist – if you can imagine an area to investigate, then you can build a career in that area. Scientific research takes place in universities, government research organisations, hospitals, private research organisations, museums and in industry. Government research organisations in Australia include: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Scientific research is not just a fascinating career choice – it’s absolutely essential for Australia’s economy, environment, society and culture.

“Science is exciting and important. It helps us understand the world we live in. In Australia, science has helped us do so many amazing things like build cheaper and cleaner cars, develop the bionic ear, and help save the possible extinction of species such as the Tasmanian Devil,” says Ms Leanne Harvey, Acting CEO, Australian Research Council.

“Working as a scientist will be a rewarding and intellectually challenging career, and perhaps the research you carry out or what you discover may actually change the lives of millions of people in the future,” said Ms Harvey.

“As shown in the recent Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) assessment of the quality of research happening across our higher education institutions, Australia really excels in areas such as astronomy, immunology and quantum physics.

“Into the future we will also need to focus on research areas that are vital for Australia’s future development – such as mathematics, engineering, materials science, biotechnology and nanotechnology, information technology and communications. There are just so many wonderful opportunities available in scientific research.”

Scientific research drives the productivity and innovation capacity of nations internationally, and for Australia specifically. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has identified that public and private research and development exert significant effects on our national productivity.

Working as a scientist is extremely fulfilling as it allows you to help find solutions to the most significant challenges of our time, such as our changing climate, diseases, food availability and national security.

Research scientists get to travel internationally as part of the job to use equipment, to visit field sites and collect samples, to work with collaborators and to present findings to international audiences at conferences. The collaborative nature of science is another attractive feature – scientists work with other scientists, industry, community organisations, government and the international community.

Australian scientists hold the key to our country’s future competitiveness, innovation and productivity. A career in science is inherently fascinating and fulfilling on a personal level, and hugely important on a national and global level.

Average salaries

Research and development: $80,000


Industry bodies

Courses to consider

Consider enrolling in a course from one of the following areas to prepare for a career in Research with a natural sciences focus.

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