Bachelor of Science career paths: careers to shape the future

Scientist looking at a plant.

King warrior Written by special contributor 

Are you curious? Science is driven by human curiosity. We look to the stars, around at our world, and deep within ourselves, enriching our understanding of everything in the universe.

And we can use that new knowledge to make real change: improve health care treatments, take better care of our planet, and revolutionize daily life with new technology that will impact us for generations.

So, how can your love of chemistry, biology, or physics translate into a successful career? Let’s look at some of the opportunities that will shape careers for future science grads, like you.


Research will shape the future

The fundamental job of scientists is research. Research jobs are available in all fields, industries, and organizations: universities, private companies, not-for-profit organizations, and government. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a researcher. New frontiers have opened up, and there are new discoveries to be made and new technologies to be invented.

  • Nanosciences: the study and manipulation of individual atoms and molecules has wide application in all sciences
  • Bioinformatics: the growing amount of data (2.5 quintillion bytes per day!) available to help scientists analyze everything from biological information (such as mapping the human genome) to chemical computation
  • Sensors: the development of new, more sensitive sensor technologies to monitor physical and environmental stimuli
  • Quantum mechanics: an emerging science that examines the properties and behaviour of subatomic particles – the smallest scales of energy

As a research scientist, your options are as open as your imagination and interests; research happens across all sectors, all over the world! You might study lasers and win a Nobel Prize, or develop microbes to boost hydroponic crop growth for food security. Your research could bring MRI technology down to the molecular level to better understand disease, get us closer to the development of quantum computing, or help remove “forever chemicals” from waterways. Or your career could also be above the earth, studying black holes, and galaxies.

Two pilots in a small cockpit. Earn a Bachelor of Science and your commercial pilot's licence.

Up, up, and away!

You can be an astronaut with a science degree. You could also be a pilot. A science degree is well suited to aviation and aerospace careers. After all, aerodynamics is based on principles from physics: gravity, lift, drag, thrust.

With supplemental education in cartography, climatology, geographic information systems (GIS), or the addition of chemical science, you could be well on your way to a career in aviation. Aviation is a career path with promise! A global shortage of pilots is looming as current qualified pilots retire — with an estimated 260,000 new pilots needed worldwide over the next decade. The industry is making an effort to include female pilots in what was once a male-dominated job. And if you’re interested in efforts to green the aviation industry, check out the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics.

A model of a human head.

Healthy people

There are more older adults than there are children under the age of 14 in Canada today. And by 2037, Canada’s population of seniors is expected to grow by 68 per cent, to 10.4 million

While Canadians are living longer and have better health care than many other countries in the world, we still face challenges in preventing chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and diabetes. These diseases account for 65 percent of deaths in Canada.  The growing number of people with dementia (including Alzheimer’s) – more than 55 million people worldwide – is also a growing concern as our population ages. More research is needed, and scientists are searching for a cure as well as better ways to manage this condition.

Discovering new methods to treat or even cure disease will be increasingly important. The demand for health care professionals (e.g., doctors, pharmacists, optometrists), researchers, and technical specialists is going to increase by as much as 13 percent by 2031. There will be increasing demand for policy makers and public health experts to collect and analyze data to advise governments and businesses on the strategies needed to improve health and health care.

Environmental Science students collect water samples in a stream

Healthy planet

Climate change, pollution, and global warming are serious concerns. They can negatively affect our population health, the natural environment, food and water supplies, and biodiversity.

Organizations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and Waterloo Climate Institute work with governments and environmental professionals around the world to address economic, social, and environmental issues.

Scientists in earth and environmental sciences, geophysics, as well as materials science, study the physical, chemical, and hydrological aspects of our planet. They work to monitor, manage, and change practices, policies, and tools used to predict catastrophic events, access resources like water or rare materials, and remediate landscapes that have been altered by natural or human events.

Careers for science grads interested in earth and environmental sciences will include everything from mining to water protection.

  • Mining: Geophysicists will use digital technologies to find new sources of materials (like terbium and dysprosium, rare metals needed in your cell phones).
  • Energy: Clean energy is predicted to create over 10 million net new jobs by 2030. Career prospects will be diverse: creating and managing wind, water, and solar infrastructure, or developing advanced batteries through nanotechnology.
  • Environment: Geoscientists will help manage the world’s water supply or quality. They can monitor the health of species and communities and our impact on the world’s natural resources. In Canada alone, 100,000 new environmentally related jobs will be created from 2017 to 2024.

A student in the science and business degree program works in a lab.

The science of business

University programs that include both science and business give you the freedom to combine your love of science with your interest in subjects like finance, accounting, economics, and marketing.

You’ll be able to talk science and translate between scientific discovery and business needs: skills that biotechnology, medical device, pharmaceutical, and health firms need to succeed.

Combining a Bachelor of Science degree with entrepreneurship is also a career option. With the right support, you can take your ideas to market and make a difference in the lives of people all over the world. Waterloo Science students and grads have already created some amazing products.

The business of science

Science is big business. We’ve already talked about mining and energy, but there are other industry sectors where science grads can find big opportunity.

Biotechnology manufacturing sectors employ over 30,000 people in Canada. The global biotechnology market is projected to be worth almost $1.7 trillion (US) by 2030, with big growth expected in bio agriculture (e.g. working with plant microbiomes), nanobiotechnology (for example, to accurately target disease in the human body), and bio pharmacy (such as manufacturing red blood cells). We can even grow bricks and dyes with biotechnology.

There’s also growth in the medical technology sector – with over 1,300 medical technology companies in Ontario earning $12.2 billion in revenues each year. These firms create wearables, hardware, and software to improve the health of people in Canada and around the world.

These are just some of the growing sectors that require science grads skilled in biology, biochemistry, biomedical sciences, and biological and medical physics to help shape products, services, and processes vital to business. There’s plenty of opportunity to mesh your passions with what the world needs – and to develop the skills to discover and create the innovations and disruptions that will change tomorrow.


Skills for careers in science

Science-minded folks need observational skills, strong analytical thinking, and the ability to organize data. They’ll also need these more common soft skills:

  • Teamwork. Scientists almost always work in teams as well as independently.
  • Patience. In research, it can take a lot of time and repetition to get a useful result. Learning to appreciate the information you get from mistakes can help.
  • Communication skills. You’ll communicate with team members who understand the science. But you may also need to communicate with coworkers in other teams, with investors — even with the public. Being able to explain your work in simple terms is a critical skill for any scientist.

Science student looking at microscope 

Bachelor of Science programs

Your education needs to give you opportunities to learn, develop, and explore. With a world-class education and hands-on experience, supported by Waterloo's labs, workshops, co-op program, and entrepreneurship opportunities, your future is what you make it. 

Here are some degrees to explore, listed with a handful of possible job titles for graduates. Worth noting: for some of these careers, a range of different degrees could be your first step. Many science careers require additional training or an advanced degree. If that’s part of your plan, Waterloo’s Centre for Career Development has dedicated advisors who support students all the way through the graduate program application process. The best degree to pursue is the one that excites you the most!


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