Want to get your students excited about a career in science? These totally awesome and surprising science careers will have your students reaching for the stars. Students may not know that their everyday interests in weather, food, animals, or makeup can transition to cool science careers. Even find the latest salary ranges for each career from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plus, find writing prompts to get your class thinking about a career in science.
Share these surprising careers with your students to show them how their passions can be combined with science to create a career they’ll love.
What are some science careers students should know about?
1. Pyrotechnic Engineer
Do you love fireworks displays? How does testing explosives and designing fireworks sound? Pyrotechnic engineers work with chemicals to design awesome firework shows. If you’re interested in chemistry, this career relies on chemical reactions and compounds to make those awesome explosions in the sky. You could see your own fireworks designs at concerts, fairs, sports games, or even on TV! Salary range: $99,000-$123,000. Learn more about the science behind fireworks here.
2. Forensic Chemist
Are crime shows or podcasts your favorite way to spend downtime? Forensic chemists play a huge role in crime investigation behind the scenes. They run tests on evidence such as drugs, gases, or blood samples to help in the investigation process. You could even be called upon in court to discuss your findings. If you’re a fan of crime investigations and have a passion for science, this could be the perfect crossroad! Salary range: $36,000-$110,000. Teachers, try this free DNA and fingerprinting activity to get your students investigating.
3. Storm Chaser
Do big thunderstorms or tornado warnings excite you? These weather enthusiasts collect data on storms by following their path. As a storm chaser, you can take awesome storm photos and videos, collect data on weather patterns, and help determine the best ways to keep people safe from dangerous weather. They’re sometimes accompanied by news crews or people wanting storm tours. This is easily one of the most risky and thrilling science careers! Salary range: $92,000-$110,000. Learn more about the physics of a vortex with this tornado warning activity.
Study giant volcano eruptions, collect lava samples, take awesome photographs, and present important findings. The work of volcanologists allows us to predict when a volcano might erupt by studying both active and inactive volcanos. Did you know there are about 200 volcanos in the world? Salary range: $77,00-$138,000. Try a volcano kit with your students for some eruption fun!
5. Wildlife Biologist
Are you an animal lover? Wildlife biologists study the effects humans have on our environment and the animals that live there. This work is so important as we recognize climate change and the impacts of humans on animal habitats. They often spend time outdoors studying different wildlife species and their behaviors. Salary range: $59,000-$81,000.
6. Cosmetic Chemist
Looking to influence the next big makeup launch? Cosmetic chemists work directly with makeup products to test and develop items before they hit the shelves. They work with products ranging from face powders to perfumes and hair color. These chemists ensure the safety of these products and also work to determine their expiration date. Salary range: $59,000-$116,000.
7. Acoustical Engineer
Add music to science and engineering, and you’ll get an acoustical engineer career! They develop technologies and solutions for sounds or vibrations. In this career, you might work to control noise levels in a busy train station or try to amplify and perfect sound in a musical theater. Acoustical engineers create structural designs that can act as noise barriers or implement materials that absorb sound. Salary range:$30,000-$119,000.
8. Scientific Research Diver
Your office is the water as a scientific research diver. In this career, you collect underwater data through scuba diving to be used in scientific research practice. This career offers help in many areas of science such as marine biology, ecology, archaeology, and more. Salary range: $31,000-$90,000.
9. Food Chemist
Who doesn’t love food? Study food processing, storage, creation, and distribution as a food chemist! You can determine the health benefits of food items by testing vitamin, fat, sugar, and protein levels. Food chemists also test safety and production standards to make sure items that hit grocery shelves are ready for consumption. Maybe you’ll even get to try some of the food samples you test! Try it out by testing the safety of food with this lab activity. Salary range: $41,000-$130,000
10. Artificial Intelligence Engineer
Want to explore and create the world of AI? Artificial intelligence engineers use machine learning to create solutions for everyday life and the future ahead. Through programmed algorithms, statistical analysis, and model creation, machines can function like a human brain. You could be a part of the next AI revolution! Salary range: $82,000-$145,000.
11. Mine Geologist
Do you want to work in an actual gold mine? Mine geologists make recommendations on mining procedures and find profitable and abundant mining areas. Plus, making sure the mining operations are safe, efficient, and environmentally friendly is important for all. This career could even include time periods of relocation or travel by visiting mining sites in cool areas of the world! Salary range: $51,000-$202,000.
12. Genetic Counselor
If studying genes and DNA are of interest to you, you should consider consulting with patients on how genetics impact their lives. Help individuals figure out how their genes might determine how they manage their health, care for children, or plan for the future. This type of counseling is important to determine risk of disease and inform future medical decisions. You can help people feel more secure in their future by providing important genetic counseling information. Salary range: $66,000-$126,000.
Fossils uncover so much information about the history of our world. As a paleontologist, you could contribute to important historical discoveries of plants, animals, or even bacteria fossils. Piece together history by investigating the relationships between fossilized animals and their current ancestors. You’ll get to see amazing discoveries that very few others are exposed to in science careers. Even find dinosaur bones that could end up in a museum! Teachers, try these awesome ways to use fossils in your classroom. Salary range: $74,000-$125,000.
14. Medical Illustrator
Combine a passion for drawing and science with a career in medical illustration. Create drawings for textbooks, doctor publications, online learning programs, or television. You can even specialize in health gaming design or virtual reality. This specific career could be the perfect match for those interested in both art and science. Salary range: $70,000-$173,000
15. Theme Park Engineer
Are you a thrill seeker? You could create the next big theme park roller coaster design! Theme park engineers brainstorm exciting new ideas for attractions and run mathematical calculations to design programs while ensuring safety. Add to the thrill of the coaster with loops, cool scenery, big drops, and fun colors. Wouldn’t it be awesome to ride a roller coaster you designed yourself? Salary range:$49,000-$94,000
16. Vaccine Researcher
Do you ever wonder how vaccines are developed? Enter the world of vaccine research, where scientists work to create new vaccines, modify existing ones, and develop programs to deliver essential vaccinations. The research of these scientists changes people’s lives for the better. Salary range: $73,000-$100,000
17. Fragrance Chemist
A fragrance chemist helps develop scents for a variety of products, such as perfumes, food, skincare, household products, and more. They can work to create safe, long-lasting fragrances as well as develop processes to cut costs for scent production. Fragrance chemists work with different ingredients to formulate and test scents that will go to the general public. Salary range: $59,000-$117,000.
18. Laser Engineer
What’s cooler than lasers? As a laser engineer, you could design, build, and optimize laser equipment. These lasers could be used in laser printing, laser surgery, laser cutting, and so much more. This job also involves technical skills where computer software is used to design and control lasers as well as store data. Salary range: $48,000-$150,000.
19. Environmental Consultant
If you’re interested in environmental issues or sustainability, this may be the perfect job for you. Environmental consultants give recommendations on processes that follow environmental standards and make the least environmental impact. They can work in different industrial industries and identify where any contamination may occur to water, air, or land. Salary range: $42,000-$103,000.
20. Exercise Physiologist
If you’re passionate about exercise or sports training, this might be the right area for you! Exercise physiologists analyze their patients’ overall health and make fitness recommendations to regain strength, maintain health, develop flexibility, and more. You could even work in a sports facility, helping athletes recover from injuries and maintain their fitness. Salary range: $46,000-$84,000.
21. Computer Programmer
This one is for the techies! Get into the nitty-gritty details of the back end of computer software by writing code, creating applications, and testing programs. Computer programming is involved in every tech industry to help software function properly. You could work in health care, article intelligence, gaming, and many more industries. Salary range: $41,000-$103,000.
Foresters manage trees and forests to conserve and restore wooden areas to maintain healthy habitats for a range of animals. Foresters work to carry out planting projects, support sustainable tree cutting, and minimize forest fires. If you love being outside in nature, this could be a fascinating career. Many foresters even spend their days in state parks. Salary range: $42,000-$93,000.
BONUS: Writing prompts to get your students thinking about science careers
Have your students try out these writing prompts to get them thinking about a science career they might enjoy.
- What is your favorite thing you’ve learned in any science class and why?
- If you had to choose a career in science, what would it be and why?
- List as many science careers as you can think of.
- What is something created by science that you use in your everyday life? What was the career of the person who created it?
- What’s something you learned in science that applies to your life?