Natural Sciences Manager

Natural sciences managers supervise life and physical scientists such as chemists, biologists, and physicists. They develop, plan, and direct research, design, and production. Top executives provide them with broad outlines of scientific and technical needs, which they then transform into tangible and feasible goals. These goals can range from improving manufacturing processes to advancing scientific research to developing new products. They use their administrative knowledge to propose budgets for products and to hire the necessary personnel to complete the project. They coordinate with almost every other type of manager, contractor, and supplier related to their projects.

Job Skills

Natural sciences managers need to have a strong background in and knowledge of the field they supervise. Because of the need to communicate in both technical and non-technical terms to workers, senior management, and customers, a natural sciences manager must have the work experience and formal education of a natural scientist. In addition to this technical knowledge, they must possess equally strong administrative and communication skills, which they use extensively in the job.


In 2002, sales managers earned a median annual salary of $82,250. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10 percent, who earned less than $57,840, and the highest 10 percent, who earned more than $141,380. The following shows the median annual salaries for the industries employing the highest numbers of natural sciences managers:

  • Scientific research and development services – $101,690
  • Federal Government – 77,020

Training and Education

Almost all engineering managers start their careers working as chemists, biologists, geologists, physicists, mathematicians, or other scientists. In order to conduct research, those scientists usually obtain a Ph.D., although some researchers in applied fields may possess only a bachelor’s or master’s degree. In order to advance to management positions, they need to acquire administrative and communication skills. To fulfill this skill requirement, many candidates augment their master’s degree education with courses in management, business, or computer technology.


In 2002, natural sciences managers, along with engineering managers, held about 257,000 jobs. About 26 percent worked in professional, scientific, and technical services industries; about 35 percent worked in manufacturing industries; and others were employed by government agencies and telecommunications and utilities companies.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, the number of natural sciences managers is expected to increase about as fast as the average. Many jobs will result from the need to replace retiring managers. Growth will be directly proportional to the growth of the specific industry in which candidates are seeking jobs. Opportunity will be good for managers in management services and management, scientific, and technical consulting firms, due to the increasing trend toward contracting out natural sciences management services.