• Question: how long did it take for you to be a scientist

    Asked by deer358tea to Timothy, Sarah, Sam, Philippa, Paula, Jia, Galina, Edwina, Brooke, Andrew on 16 Dec 2019.
    • Photo: Brooke Johnson

      Brooke Johnson answered on 16 Dec 2019:


      I think you are a scientists as soon as you start asking questions about the world, that are beyond the things you learn in school and your text books.

      It took me maybe 15 years to become a ‘profesional’ scientist which is longer than normal. This is because I did not do well at school and had no GCSE or A-Levels so I could not go to university straight away. Instead I worked in various jobs like in call centers and factories.

      When I went to university, my degree lasted four years, and then I started my PhD (which also lasts four years). Once I started my PhD, I started to get paid to be a scientist so you could say that is when I became a professional scientist.

      To be honest though, I really don’t think or feel any different now than to when I was collecting rocks and fossils on the beach for fun.

    • Photo: Philippa Sinclair

      Philippa Sinclair answered on 16 Dec 2019:


      I like Brooke’s answer to this, and I agree that being inquisitive is key to being a scientist and you don’t have to be doing formal science classes to be a scientist (take cooking, for example, which is a type of science!)

      I did science at school and chose Biology, Chemistry and Maths for my A levels which were more in depth than GCSEs. After that, I did a three year Undergraduate degree and then a one year masters which I really enjoyed.

    • Photo: Sarah Briggs

      Sarah Briggs answered on 16 Dec 2019:


      Brooke’s right in that science is all about asking questions about what we see around us, and trying to figure out the answers.
      But in terms of being paid to be a scientist, I’m probably a bit different in that I’ve also trained as a medical doctor, so I did 6 years of medical school, then I’ve done a couple of shorter stints as a scientist while I’ve been doing medical training, and now I’m doing it full time – which I started about 9 years after medical school finished.

    • Photo: Edwina Yeo

      Edwina Yeo answered on 16 Dec 2019:


      Again, there is not a line on when you become a scientist! The feeling of understanding and discovering things is the same all the time you learn about science!
      If you think of being paid to do it: I had to do 3 years of undergraduate degree then 1 year of masters just like Philippa.

    • Photo: Paula Kaanders

      Paula Kaanders answered on 17 Dec 2019:


      I considered myself being a scientist from the moment I got to do my first experiments at university, so that’s almost a decade ago now! However, I only started doing science as a profession about 5 years ago, when I graduated from my master’s degree and started working as a research assistant.

    • Photo: Jia Khoo

      Jia Khoo answered on 1 Jan 2020:


      I worked as an undergraduate research assistant in a research laboratory when I was studying for my bachelor’s degree at university. That was the first time I started getting paid for working on a research project (part-time). I had to undergo a lot of training with other experienced scientists to improve my experimental skills and techniques. Luckily, I had really good mentors and that’s how I decided to do a PhD so I can be a professional scientist just like them.

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