Pros and Cons of Natural Science major
I fell in love with the creativity and fun involved in the Physics problem sets back in my high school days. Physics caught me like an addiction, and I knew this was something I would like to do for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, to whomever I passed this little information saw the end of me as job fields for this major are presumably limited to academia. Seeing my classmates fangirling those ‘FAANG’ companies and my Asian parents hyped about engineering and medical degrees carried me from the heights of ecstasy about doing what I love to do to the depths of disparity of not keeping up with the expectations of the society. Luckily, this was the point where my back hit the wall and I started researching what natural science majors do once they graduate from college. Since this is a very common scenario in typical Asian societies, I would like to share my findings on the pros and cons of doing a natural science degree in the US to help another kid like me.
So, Here we go! Here are the 5 Pros and 4 Cons of doing a natural science major in the US:
- Demanding research career
If you are into research, have some previous experience, or are genuinely interested in trying that in college, natural science might be your best option. After all, all the famous research institutes around the world are looking for natural science majors to do fundamental research in their labs. Oftentimes, these labs are associated with the top universities, so you have a fair shot of landing a permanent job in academia as well.
- Decent salary and job satisfaction in academia
If you are thinking you will die in a lab in want of food and money, you’re wrong! In fact, professors, lecturers, and associate professors in natural science fields earn decent money from tutoring. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a physicist in the US is $152,430. Yes, scratch your eyes once again. You’re seeing the figures right! They earn more than one-tenth of a million per year! This value might vary a little for other majors, but in general, you’re all set to maintain a pretty high standard of living if you’re into academia with your natural science degree. Also, being an academic saves you from taking orders from your boss, giving you the flexibility and satisfaction of shaping your professional experience in the way you want!
- You can land FAANG jobs too!
If you’re a natural science major, doors to giant tech companies might still be open for you! Tech companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Intel hire a lot of physicists, mathematicians, and other natural science majors to work in their research wings and help develop the fundamental theories for innovating new products. Especially, IBM and Google are currently developing their quantum computers, so it has become an abode of researchers from physical science and mathematics background.
- Be a part of the discoveries
In many cases, jobs for natural science majors are somewhat related to research, and doing research requires you to look for new solutions and understandings. If you are really interested in what you are doing and willing to push the boundaries of the unknowns, there is always a slight possibility that you will be a part of the recent advancements made in the understanding of nature around us. This can ultimately bring you fame, respect, and self-satisfaction.
- Do what you love to do
The most important part(for me) of a natural science degree is you’ll be doing something you always wanted to do. I don’t want to spend the rest of this life sitting in a corporate office, stooping over a desktop, and doing the same mundane job every day. Instead, I might tutor students or join the research industry which will give me the flexibility of innovating new ways of thinking and imparting that knowledge to others. Life is just too short for doing things we don’t like, so choose your major wisely!
- You cannot get super-rich
Unless you are an entrepreneur, there is not a high chance of becoming a millionaire with your natural science major. Although being a professor at a good college might earn you a decent salary, your monthly wages will not be as lucrative as that of high-paid corporate or industrial jobs.
- Life can be difficult without the patience and niche for research
Now, not all of you are interested in doing research or have the patience to work on a single question from day to night not knowing if there’s an answer. Since a majority of jobs for natural science majors focus heavily on research, life can become very suffocating and frustrating for people who are not genuinely interested.
- It might take a while to start earning
A usual career path of a natural science major usually involves completing a master’s and a Ph.D. before entering the job sector. A typical person graduates from college at 22, and then a master’s and a Ph.D. will take you another 7 years, so finally you’ll start to contribute to your family income at the age of 29. This can be a serious issue, especially for low-income families who expect their children/spouse/parents to contribute to the family from an early age.
- Student loan debt
This might not be a problem for students doing their bachelor’s for free or with aid/scholarships, but most of us are not so lucky. One of the most common ways to afford the most expensive education in the world is taking a student loan that often exceeds 0.3 million USD. Since many students in natural science majors don’t start earning until their 30s, it can be difficult to repay the loan in time, burdening them with a huge amount of debts hanging over their heads like a sword of Damocles.
In short, following your dreams always requires you to lose and sacrifice some temptations, but that shouldn’t stop you. if you want to go for a natural science major, for example, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, or a pure subject like mathematics, and you think you are passionate enough to continue doing this thing for the rest of your life, go for it! There’s no one to stop you once you get the taste of researching the unknowns and dancing on the edge of the known world.