How Do I Start a Career in Research and Development?

N. Madison
N. Madison

You will typically need an advanced education to successfully pursue a career in research and development. In most places, you will have to complete high school or earn an approved alternative to a high school diploma and then earn a bachelor's degree in a field such as science, technology, or engineering to secure a job in this field. To have the best job opportunities, however, you can opt to earn a master's degree or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Additionally, experience gained through an entry-level position or internship may help improve your job prospects.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Preparation for a career in research and development usually starts with high school. In high school, you can learn the important basics of science and mathematics necessary for success in college. You can also build critical written and verbal communication skills and develop a solid critical-thinking process during your time in high school. Additionally, many higher-education institutions require a high school or General Educational Development® (GED®) diploma from admission candidates.

A college degree is also necessary for beginning a career in research and development. Many jobs require applicants to have at least bachelor's degrees in a science, engineering, or technology major. Earning a graduate-level degree, however, may improve your chances of landing the job you want. The entry-level positions with the lowest pay and the least amount of independence are often offered to those with bachelor's degrees. Earning at least a master's degree will likely open the doors to more opportunities, higher pay, and more responsibility.

While earning a master's degree may allow you to go far in a research and development career, you might consider earning an even more advanced degree in pursuit of this type of job. A PhD is the highest degree a person can earn in most places and can translate into a chance at the most attractive positions and the highest pay. Usually, a person with a PhD has a chance at the jobs that include the most responsibility and offer the highest level of independence.

Many of the most attractive research and development positions also require a person to have related experience. You can gain the experience you need for the most attractive positions by starting out in an entry-level position and working your way up to the job you want. You can also use internships that you participate in before and after graduation from college or graduate school to gain experience, make contacts, and land the job you desire.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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