#Career Spotlights

Tag: #Career Spotlights

Career Spotlight: Computational Scientists

Adapted from pennstateuniversity.edu and energy.gov 

A computational scientist is someone who uses scientific computing in applied disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology, or the social sciences to analyze, clean up and calibrate large amounts of data and create computer models or simulations to create artificial data to solve problems and inform decisions. Because computational scientists primarily work with data, models, and simulations, they can be scientists, statisticians, applied mathematicians or engineers. 

Job Duties  

Computational Scientists work primarily with research. Their job duties primarily involve 

  • Analyzing and interpreting data  
  • Applying computer science procedures to a variety of situations and recommending potential solutions 
  • Designing experiments and developing algorithms  
  • Identifying relationships and trends or any factors that could affect the results of research 
  • Coordinating with research faculty and other technical team members for needs assessment and to accomplish individual project and/or larger organizational goals 
  • Co-authoring papers, proposals, presentations and reports  
  • Maintaining external research collaborations 

Later into one’s career, computational scientists may take on more managerial and mentorship roles as they become in charge of projects and mentor others like grad students in academic settings or new hires in tech companies.  

Working Conditions 

Computational scientists are typically researchers at academic universities, national labs and tech companies because data analysis, creating computational models and simulations are all skills that can be easily used in multiple disciplines. Often, they will need to work with in academically or professionally diverse teams and communicate clearly with researchers from their own or other institutions or clients and executives with non-technical backgrounds if they want to talk about their results. When working for academia or in national laboratories, it may be necessary to travel to research conferences to present their research.  

Education and Training  

Depending on the work, the education requirements vary from a bachelor’s degree to a PhD in disciplines related to what you are applying for. For example, jobs that focus on modeling Earth Systems might require a PhD in either Earth Sciences, Oceanography, Computer Science or any related field. However, jobs that need computational scientists because they need someone to facilitate deeper understanding or shorter time for research then, at the lower levels, a bachelor’s degree may do. Financial companies may want an Economics or financial background. However, prior experience is strongly recommended, even at entry levels for most jobs. 

Pay and Job Outlook 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Computer and Information Research Scientist jobs are expected to grow by 22% and their median salaries were $126,830 in May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $72,210, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $194,430 with the top three industries being software publishers, research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences and computer systems design and related services. 

More Information 

Here is our list of sources you can go through, if you would like to know more: 

Department of Energy’s Career Map on Computational Scientists 

Computing in Science and Engineering Article on How to Become One 

Career Highlight: Environmental Toxicologist

Adapted from environmentalscience.org 

Environmental toxicologists study the effects of toxic chemicals like pollutants (e.g., pesticides, industrial waste, etc.) and heavy metals on the environment and humans. They minimize these effects by investigating the sources of chemicals and examining how these chemicals move through ecosystems to predict where and how these chemicals may end up in our bodies. If this career interests you, read on! 

Job Duties: 

Environmental toxicologists conduct experiments on human cells and lab animals to investigate the effects of toxic chemicals. They forecast and analyze the impact of toxic chemicals using modeling technology. They also present their findings to stakeholders and administrators and may even consult with policymakers on the safety of chemicals.  

Where They Work: 

There are a variety of opportunities in academia, private industries and in federal and state regulatory agencies for environmental toxicologists. Those employed by federal , and state regulatory agencies often test new chemicals for safety or help develop regulatory policies. 

Toxicologists employed by private companies help with product development and safety testing. They may either work for product developers or research organizations that contract their expertise. Toxicologists are also being increasingly employed by consulting firms that advise public officials, industries and lawyers on toxic chemicals. 

Many environmental toxicologists are also employed as faculty or staff researchers at colleges and universities, with doctoral degrees being required for such positions. Some nonprofit organizations also hire toxicologists to conduct research on chemicals or issues of public concern.  

Education and Training: 

Toxicologists employed as faculty or staff researchers most often require doctoral degrees. Most professionals start with bachelor’s degrees in biology, chemistry, environmental chemistry, or ecology. Further graduate training then provides additional education in molecular and developmental biology, neuroscience and risk assessment.  

Pay and Job Outlook: 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the predicted job demand is an 8 percent increase between 2020 and 2030. Environmental toxicologists fall under the broader category of environmental scientists and specialists. According to the BLS, this category earned a median salary of $73,230 as of May 2020. The highest paying industry for these professionals is the federal government, which reported a median salary of $103,180 during this time. 

Career Spotlight: Mental Health Counselor

If there’s one thing pandemic isolation has taught us, it is the importance of mental health professionals in today’s world. With the rates of mental illnesses skyrocketing in the U.S. (particularly among young adults and underrepresented populations), mental health counselors are providing vital resources to our communities [read CDC statistics on U.S. mental health and the pandemic here]Are you interested in exploring a career as a mental health counselor? Read on to learn what this career could look like! 

What do mental health counselors do? 

Mental health counselors meet with individuals one-on-one or in groups to help clients improve their mental and emotional health. Often, mental health counselors work with clients who have diagnosable mental disorders, but counselors may also work with individuals experiencing emotional distress as part of daily life and expected transitions. This job often requires completing an initial psychological assessment with a client, developing a treatment plan with the client, and meeting regularly for some length of time. It may also include communication with people besides the client, such as parents, schools, and doctors. If you enjoy listening, empathizing, and problem-solving, this might be a good career for you! 

Where do they work? 

Some mental health counselors are self-employed and work in private practice, while others are employed by agencies such as nonprofits, schools, and companies. Some may work as part of a treatment team in intensive outpatient and hospital settings as well. 

Who do they work with? 

Mental health counselors can see clients of any age. Many counselors specialize in certain populations, such as an age group or a particular mental health issue. Some counselors also specialize in a certain method of counseling, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, or psychoanalysis. Each specialization will involve slightly different duties, and there are many opportunities for further training after becoming licensed. 

What training do they need? 

Practicing as a mental health counselor requires a license, such as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) or LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor) – the name varies by state. To get licensed, a counselor must complete a training program, usually a two-year master’s program in counseling or mental health counseling. Browse a list of CACREP-accredited masters programs here. The licensing requirements vary by state, and usually include some hours of internship and work experience after completing the master’s program. 

What is their pay and job outlook? 

Demand for mental health counselors is very high, and is growing. This may be due to an increased need of counseling services, and is likely also influenced by the fact that health insurances are covering increasingly more mental health services. The mental health counseling occupation is projected to grow 23% in the next 10 years, compared to the average of 8%. While salaries vary widely depending on experience, location, and employer, the median salary for mental health counselors was around $47,660 per year in 2020. Counselors in urban areas tend to earn more (although the cost of living is also typically higher), while counselors in more rural areas tend to earn less. 

Where can I go to find out more? Professional organizations and resources: 

Connecting with mental health organizations is a great way to meet people in the field and stay informed of upcoming events and resources. Here are some organizations you might like to take a look at:

Lawrence Connections: Alumni in the mental health counseling field!  

Do you think you might be interested, but still have some questions? Or are you sure this is the job for you, and want some guidance along the winding path that leads there? At any stage of the process, no one can tell you the lay of the land better than a mental health counselor themselves. And one with a Lawrence background will understand where you are coming from as well as where you might be headed. Here are a few alumni in the mental health counseling field: Cynthia Stocum, Ariana Thelen, Sally Burns. Check out Lawrence’s alumni platform, Viking Connect, to find more alumni! 

Whether your journey ends in mental health counseling or somewhere else, thanks for taking a few minutes to learn more about this career track that’s meeting a critical need in our communities! 

Career Spotlights: Banking

Banking can be a lucrative career for anyone in the business and entrepreneurship career community. However, there are many different types of financial institutions, each serving their clients in different ways and working in different areas of finance. Unsure on what kinds of customers you want to serve or what aspect of finance you want to work with? Here are some types of banks and organizations to help you see which one interests you the most.

Traditional Banks: Consumers deposit funds in checking and saving accounts. Most big banks in America like Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America fit into this description. These banks are regulated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which insures deposits in banks against losses in bank failures to maintain economic stability.

Commercial Bank: They offer services to both personal consumers and businesses by making short-term loans to both groups. There is a lot of overlap between traditional and commercial banks as many of the traditional banks mentioned above operate as commercial ones by giving out loans.

Credit Unions: Credit Unions have members who can borrow from a credit union’s combined deposits at a low interest rate. They are typically non-profit and members are their shareholders. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) regulates and supervises federal credit unions.

Investment Banks: These types of banks help companies determine how much they should pay when buying another company, new ways to invest their profits, or advise companies on borrowing money. They also advise clients on selling stocks and bonds.

The Federal Reserve: The Federal Reserve or the Fed regulates banks and determines monetary policies to stabilize inflation, reduce unemployment and moderate long term interest rates. If you’re interested in working at the policy level when it comes to finance, working for the Fed could be an option.

Micro Credit: Typically, micro credit or micro loans are small loans given to people who don’t have collateral or a lot of money to pay back huge sums or interest. These loans are often used to encourage entrepreneurship and help people out of poverty. If you’re someone who is interested in combining your interest in finance with economic development, micro credit could be an interesting field for you.

Online/Virtual Banks: Banks that operate exclusively online and don’t have branches.

Raisa Fatima ’23 is a Physics major with interests in research and engineering. She enjoys painting, reading and playing games like Stardew Valley in her spare time. Raisa works as a Career Peer Educator for the BE and PHN career communities so if you’re interested in anything PHN or BE related, or you just need some general advice on anything professional development related like resumes, cover letter etc. you can schedule an appointment here.

Career Spotlights: Insurance

Insurance reduces the negative impact of losing assets or income when an accident, illness, robbery, or death occurs. Many buy different types of insurance like health, life, auto, and home insurance so that they can transfer some of their risk of loss to the insurance company. But what does the other side of this industry look like? What does a job in insurance look like?

Career paths in insurance require strong backgrounds in math, statistics, and financial theory. Additionally, you need good communication and writing skills as often times you would be writing reports and communicating with clients about your findings and calculations. Here are some potential career paths and what each field requires.

Actuaries: They help develop insurance policies by determining the costs of risk. Actuaries also work in the public sector where they evaluate proposed changes to Social Security or Medicare or examine and regulate rates charged by insurance companies.
In addition to having excellent arithmetic skills, actuaries need to take examinations to get the right certifications. Most employers support their employees throughout the later part of their certification process (e.g. covering the costs of exams or giving raises after they pass exams). You can find out more by checking the Society of Actuaries website.

Financial or Insurance Managers: They decide how to limit losses by protecting against risks like costs imposed by lawsuits against the organization.
Financial managers need at least a bachelor’s degree and 5 years or more of experience in related occupations like accountant, loan officers, securities sales agents, or financial analysts. Many employers are also interested in hiring people with a master’s in fields like finance, accounting, economics, or business administration.

Insurance Sales Agents: They contact potential customers to sell one or more types of insurance. Sales agents explain various policies and help clients choose plans that suit them best. Agents can specialize in selling a specific type of insurance like life insurance or casualty insurance or sell multiple plans. They can also choose to work for a specific company or work for an insurance brokerage by selling the policies of many companies.

Agents need licenses in states where they work. They are only issued to applicants who have completed the necessary courses and pass state exams covering insurance fundamentals and state insurance laws. Many state licensing authorities also require agents to take courses on insurance laws, consumer protection, and other technical aspects of insurance policies. You can find more about these state requirements here.

Raisa Fatima ’23 is a Physics major with interests in research and engineering. She enjoys painting, reading and playing games like Stardew Valley in her spare time. Raisa works as a Career Peer Educator for the BE and PHN career communities so if you’re interested in anything PHN or BE related, or you just need some general advice on anything professional development related like resumes, cover letter etc. you can schedule an appointment here.