I'm really trying to make this not into a what should I do question, and more into a where should I aim and why question if that makes any sense.

I'm a naturally curious person and the only thing that holds my attention for long is research. Give me any topic and some decent sources and I'm happy for a very long time. The problem is finding jobs in 'research' is that since it's such a broad term, getting to specifics is hard.

I was hoping anyone had suggestions for either research jobs I can get with just a BSc, or further degrees that would help me move into a good job field.

For reference, for me specifically, I have a BSc. in environmental science, am working in project management (though I hate the actual managing project parts), and I would love to move into a science field.


Do you have a university or research institution near you?

I think you may be romanticizing the reality of research just a bit especially if you have no experience with professional research situations. In the fields I have experience with, admittedly exclusively in the academic realm of the 'hard sciences', there's not a lot of 'getting a topic and some resources'. There's a lot of literature reviews, true, and, depending on the field, a lot of data collection, data janitorial work, some analysis and, of course, the super fun world of publishing/reporting. My point is, from your current description, it may be a bit early to say that you love research. But, hey, I didn't know I liked broccoli until I tried it and you won't really know if you like research(or what part of research you might enjoy) until you try it.

The problem comes from "I think I like research, I have a BS in environmental sciences. I want to do more science!" isn't very clear. Do you want to do research in environmental science? Do you want to do research in biology? I mean there are a boatload of fields out there in which you could do research. No one can say do ~this~ without knowing more information about the field in which you are most interested. I am admittedly not an environmental scientist but I have a lot of friends who are involved in research in that field. A lot of people with environmental science type degrees want to go into research and it can be hard to break into without connections. The ones I know who are most successful(purely anecdotally of course) are the ones who have a graduate degree in biology, computer science, or mathematics. That's not to say there's anything wrong or worse about environmental science degrees, it's just that it's a very competitive field to be involved in research in and sometimes different degrees help you stand out. That being said enrolling in a graduate degree isn't the first thing you should do(it may not even be necessary at all).

Here is my recommended multi-step plan.

  1. Find out what you want to research in. It can be as vague as "maybe I want to research biology" or as specific as "I want to study the blue footed booby's mating dance rituals".
  2. Do a bit of pre-research research. Figure out if other people are working in that field or on something similar to what you are interested in. Go to google scholar, read a couple of scientific papers. Figure out, in a rough high level way, what that sort of research involves.
  3. Once you've narrowed down a field/interest and identified some people who are working in it... figure out how they got to where they are today. Do they all have PhDs in advanced booby watching techniques? Did they work in a specific field prior? Did a lot of them go to a specific school? Why bother with this? Because this gives you a rough 'roadmap' of how to get where you want to be.
  4. Start looking at that roadmap you developed. You know what you want to research, you know how some other people have gotten started researching that thing... what was the first step for them? Is it a graduate degree? Start making plans.
  5. This is number 5 but it's really something that should happen in parallel with the previous steps. Look at local universities and see if they have research happening in a field that's related to or close to your interest. See if you can volunteer in some research that interests you. Google for professors and organizations. Start going to scientific talks or meetups. Read some of those researcher's papers and start a professional correspondence.
  6. Follow your roadmap, keep on keeping on. Just ~do~.
  7. Profit!

You might have to repeat a couple of steps here. If the first topic you think sounds interesting("Hmm, I think I'll research the mating dance of the blue footed booby") but ends up not being compelling to you("All the research involves cataloging and tasting their poop. Nope.") then try looking at another field.

No one here can really tell you, yet, what exactly to do to get where you want to be. The TL;DR I can give you is to get involved. Figure out what field you are interested in and find out about organizations, meetups, current work in the field. Start volunteering or get an entry level position in a lab(many labs will hire folks with 'just' a BS) and get some experience.

Really, in the end, becoming a researcher at a professional level isn't much different than getting any other job at a professional level. You find a job in the field that you are qualified for and you start working your way up.

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    An entry level position in a lab would be a good place to start if he has a BSc. I remember talking with my professor (in Computer Science) and he mentioned to me that if I wanted to do the "core" job of research, I was going to need a PhD or to be studying for one. That's another field, so it may be different, but that's who seems to be doing the most professional research these days. – TheSoundDefense Aug 20 '14 at 14:05
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    In most of the fields I am familiar with the PIs and the lab leadership(not to mention the people doing the 'cool' work) almost always has a PhD. But there are tons of different jobs in 'research' so it may turn out that the OP is interested in one of those few jobs that don't require an advanced degree. I agree that for most research jobs, though, a PhD is going to be involved in there somewhere. – Nahkki Aug 20 '14 at 14:17
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    Good answer, you suggested that he research to find out if he wants to really do research. Excellent! – HLGEM Aug 20 '14 at 14:33
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    I'll just note that "doing medical research" can be as mindless as washing test tubes or "doing scientific research" can be another phrase for keeping the rat cages clean. Or that doing archeological research is another phrase for (carefully) digging holes in the ground or making an inventory of the contents of chamber pots from several thousand years ago. And co-authoring i.e. ghost writing papers that no one cares to read :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Aug 20 '14 at 14:47
  • Thanks so much for the in depth reply. You've really helped solidify where I need to go from there. I've actually worked both as a lab assistant, and in lab safety, so I do have some idea of what 'research' entails, but that was while I was still in school. I've been stuck trying to get back to there having worked for a few years. – LiRansom Aug 20 '14 at 15:46

Librarians research. You need a Masters in Library Science (MLS, MLIS, MSIS). You can find a job in a library - public, academic, or special library (medical, law, archive, museum). But you can also find work in law firms or other types of businesses that have research needs.

A successful librarian not only has insatiable curiosity and tenacity, he or she has training in how to dig for information (search strategies) and is well-versed in available resources (both publicly available and behind paywalls). Additionally, he or she should be skilled in asking the right questions up front in order to guide research and should have exceptional reporting skills for presenting the results. Businesses often expect their librarians to maintain a library of relevant industry materials for staff use, including managing digital resources, and to have expertise in recommending resources.

The Masters program for library science is a fairly short one (usually about 36 hours), and you should choose both a program and coursework specifically geared for the type of work you wish to pursue. There are some accredited online degrees available, if there is no degree program near you.

  • Interesting, I didn't know that there were online degrees for MLS. I've looked into it in the past, but the employment rate, plus not having a program nearby made it less attractive. I'll look into it again, thanks. – LiRansom Aug 20 '14 at 15:47
  • Check San Jose, University of North Texas, and Texas Woman's University (not just for women), and Syracuse. There are others as well. – MJ6 Aug 20 '14 at 16:26

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