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Natural Sciences Managers

At a Glance

  • Direct research for private companies or government agencies
  • Work with chemists, biologists, geologists, and physicists
  • Do managerial duties such as plan budgets and hire employees
  • Often work long hours to meet deadlines
  • Are responsible for work done by others
  • Have at least a bachelor's degree, plus experience

Career summary

Natural sciences managers plan and direct the work of natural scientists.

Natural science is the study of the physical world and the laws of nature. People who study natural science include:

Natural science managers oversee the research of these and other scientists. This includes research for government agencies and for companies that develop products.

Natural sciences managers consult with other scientists to plan research or production projects. Managers set scientific or technical goals and plan how to achieve them. They also consult with business managers who may not have a science background.

Managers plan budgets and write financial reports. They hire scientists and support staff and assign them to carry out parts of a project. They make important decisions about staff training and equipment purchases.

Science managers monitor the progress of projects and research. They may also help with getting patents for products, or deal with other legal requirements.

Most natural science managers are former scientists and some continue to conduct their own research.

Related careers

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to natural sciences managers.

Common work activities

Natural sciences managers perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, natural sciences managers:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Natural sciences managers frequently:

It is important for natural sciences managers to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for natural sciences managers to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Natural sciences managers need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as a natural sciences manager, you typically need to:

Education after high school

You must have at least a bachelor's degree in science for management positions in applied science. You need a master's or doctoral (PhD) degree in science to be a manager in research.

Many natural sciences managers have a master's degree. Science managers need administrative skills as well as technical skills. A master's in business administration (MBA) is good preparation for non-technical (applied science) management jobs. For technical management jobs, a master's degree or PhD in science plus an MBA is the best preparation.

You should major in the natural science you are most interested in. Computer and management courses are also helpful.

Work experience

You must prove yourself as a scientist before you can move into this occupation. Natural science managers work for several years as chemists, biologists, geologists, or scientists in other fields before becoming managers.

On-the-job training

You should consider participating in an internship while in college. An internship is usually part of a four-year degree program. It offers you a chance to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a work situation. It also allows you to build skills and make contacts with people in the field.

Employers often provide training or pay for college course work. It is important that you update your technical skills and expand your administrative skills.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. Take as many classes as you can in the areas of science that interest you.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer to hire natural science managers who have good communication and administrative skills.

Costs to workers

Some workers join professional associations, which may have membership fees and annual dues.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Natural sciences managers (SOC 11-9121)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $46.47 $54.59 $67.96 $81.42 (1)
Monthly $8,053 $9,460 $11,777 $14,110 (1)
Yearly $96,650 $113,540 $141,360 $169,350 (1)
    Bellingham Hourly $43.44 $48.79 $52.56 $54.78 $59.53
Monthly $7,528 $8,455 $9,109 $9,493 $10,317
Yearly $90,342 $101,481 $109,316 $113,941 $123,817
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $54.10 $54.11 $60.28 $67.66 $77.97
Monthly $9,376 $9,377 $10,447 $11,725 $13,512
Yearly $112,525 $112,537 $125,376 $140,716 $162,182
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $55.16 $61.38 $70.55 $79.52 $92.82
Monthly $9,559 $10,637 $12,226 $13,781 $16,086
Yearly $114,726 $127,657 $146,741 $165,393 $193,075
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $39.50 $48.10 $56.02 $61.61 $65.75
Monthly $6,845 $8,336 $9,708 $10,677 $11,394
Yearly $82,152 $100,051 $116,528 $128,160 $136,762
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $44.19 $49.89 $54.22 $58.45 $67.57
Monthly $7,658 $8,646 $9,396 $10,129 $11,710
Yearly $91,917 $103,771 $112,788 $121,567 $140,554
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $49.00 $59.85 $74.14 $94.66 (2)
Monthly $8,492 $10,372 $12,848 $16,405 (2)
Yearly $101,929 $124,488 $154,218 $196,895 (2)
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $39.04 $43.16 $49.08 $55.87 $65.25
Monthly $6,766 $7,480 $8,506 $9,682 $11,308
Yearly $81,204 $89,770 $102,101 $116,213 $135,720
    Vancouver Hourly $42.02 $49.96 $57.53 $66.43 $80.27
Monthly $7,282 $8,658 $9,970 $11,512 $13,911
Yearly $87,395 $103,909 $119,660 $138,187 $166,943
    Wenatchee Hourly $39.56 $46.75 $54.16 $65.38 $75.29
Monthly $6,856 $8,102 $9,386 $11,330 $13,048
Yearly $82,285 $97,227 $112,653 $135,989 $156,601
    Yakima Hourly $29.17 $41.95 $48.80 $69.35 $73.30
Monthly $5,055 $7,270 $8,457 $12,018 $12,703
Yearly $60,689 $87,255 $101,492 $144,236 $152,478
United States Hourly $31.25 $44.44 $59.55 $79.76 (1)
Monthly $5,416 $7,701 $10,320 $13,822 (1)
Yearly $65,000 $92,430 $123,860 $165,900 (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by employer and the manager's level of experience and responsibility.

Managers usually receive benefits such as paid vacation, sick leave, health insurance, and a retirement plan. In addition, managers sometimes receive extra benefits, especially higher-level managers. Examples include expense accounts, stock option plans, and bonuses.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Natural Sciences Managers (SOC 11-9121)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 1,791 16.9% 16.1% 215
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 25 4.0% 13.4% 2
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 42 4.8% 8.6% 4
    Benton and Franklin Counties 412 1.9% 15.0% 34
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 29 13.8% 11.9% 3
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 71 18.3% 15.2% 8
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 69 11.6% 14.1% 7
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 37 16.2% 14.6% 5
    King County 905 24.6% 19.6% 126
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 26 34.6% 13.8% 4
    Pierce County 28 10.7% 15.2% 3
    Snohomish County 123 17.1% 12.4% 14
    Spokane County 61 24.6% 13.9% 8
United States 63,500 5.8% 5.2% 6,100

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is growing as fast as average. Advances in technology create competition among companies. They must upgrade and improve their products and services more often to compete with each other. This often means they hire more research scientists to work on their products.

Competition for jobs is strong. Job openings will occur as people retire.

Other resources

American Chemical Society (external link)
1155 Sixteenth Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
American Geophysical Union (external link)
2000 Florida Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20009
American Institute of Biological Sciences (external link)
1800 Alexander Bell Drive, Suite 400
Reston, VA 20191
Environmental Career Center (external link)
P.O. Box 3387
Hampton, Virginia 23663


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational clusters