exploring careers by gyvwpsjkko


									 exploring careers...
                   careers in the life sciences
              (Information in this brochure has been extracted and adapted from www.careers.co.za.)

s Agriculture and wildlife: Genetic modification of foods and seeds; biopesticide and neutriceutical development; wildlife
  management: identification and protection of endangered species; authentication of consumables such as wine and caviar
s Bench science: Sequencing of many organisms, including humans; data analysis and computation; functional genomics;
  proteomics; human variation in health and disease; microbial genetics; environmental studies; education
s Bioscience communication: Reporting, writing and editing; website development and maintenance; public relations; marketing;
  special events
s Business: Biosciences industry investing; marketing and sales; banking
s Computational biology (including bioinformatics): Database creation, data analysis, modelling and data transfer;
  supercomputing; mathematics, statistics and actuarial fields
s Engineering disciplines: Bioprocessing chamber, vat design and production; toxic waste clean-up; instrumentation
  development; creation of new energy sources via engineering and life science research; biomedical engineering
s History and anthropology: Use of genetics to study population and migration patterns; study of inheritance over evolutionary
s Law and justice: Education; patent specialities; specialities in ethical, legal and social issues; gene and paternity testing; DNA
  forensics: in the laboratory, in the field and in the courtroom
s Medicine: Medical genetics, genetic counselling and genetic nursing; gene testing and gene therapy; organ transplantation,
  fertility and reproduction; public health
s Pharmaceutical industry and suppliers: Pharmacogenomics; chemical, vaccine, medicine development and production;
  database development, operation and use; communication and work with regulatory agencies
s Military: Soldier identification; pathogen (disease) identification; biological and chemical warfare protection; radiation exposure
s Space exploration: Research into space effects; search for other life forms, evidence of life


A biochemist studies the chemical composition of living things and deals with phenomena that distinguish the living from the
non-living in chemical and physical terms. The biochemist works with animals, plants or micro-organisms and endeavours to
breach the gap between the highly integrated activity of the living cell (a biological unit) and the properties of its individual
components. The nature of the work is determined by the field the biochemist may work in. You may conduct research on new
products; conduct research into ways of reusing waste materials; develop methods for the purification of water; work in the
industry where products are manufactured through chemical processes and reactions (biotechnology); be involved in the control
and purification of foods; develop antibiotics and test the reaction of the human body to certain medicine; be involved in
genetics and forensic science.

Possible employers: Department of Agriculture; Department of Health; South African Bureau of Standards; CSIR (Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research); South African Medical Research Council; AEC (Atomic Energy Corporation); universities and
universities of technology; industries which manufacture food, beverages, drugs, insecticides, cosmetics and other products;
municipalities; large hospitals; pharmaceutical companies; breweries; wine corporations; self-employment (consultants to
industry and government)

The geneticist studies the genetic composition of living organisms (plants, animals and humans) to try to explain how genetic
traits are transmitted from one generation to the next. The study of genetics can be subdivided into different fields:
s Cytogenetics: Qualities and behaviour of chromosomes
s Molecular genetics: Study of the molecular functioning of genetic material (This information is used to change genes for
   commercial purposes, especially agricultural and medical purposes.)
s Population genetics and plant and animal breeding: Predicting the outcome of cross-breeding different animals and plant
s Preventative medicine: Better knowledge of human genetics and the molecular nature of defective genes facilitates diagnoses
  and the prevention of genetically associated diseases.
s The geneticist often performs laboratory work, but also works outdoors (plant breeding). S/he does computer and
  mathematical analysis in population studies and breeding. In the human, plant and animal fields the geneticist performs
  diagnostic work.

Possible employers: Universities; hospitals; research institutes; plant-breeding companies; animal-breeding companies

Leather chemist
A leather chemist applies his/her knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry and microbiology to develop the technology of leather
production. The leather chemist is an expert on the processing of all types of leather. The process entails the preservation of the
hides, the tanning of the hides, and the finishing of the leather. The leather chemist has knowledge of the quality tests that
leather is subjected to. S/he can also deal with problems in all the aspects of making leather.

Possible employers: Tanneries; companies that supply tanning materials to tanneries; Leather Industrial Research Institute;
SABS (South African Bureau of Standards); self-employment

Botany is the branch of biology that deals with plant life. The botanist's work is very important because human beings depend
on plants for food. There are different fields in botany:
s The plant taxonomist identifies and classifies plants. S/he studies the systematics, chemistry, structure, genetics and
  reproduction of plants.
s The ethnobotanist reseats all the plants traditionally used for food and medicine.
s The palaeontologist studies fossil and living pollen. These studies often shed light on the historical background of a certain
s The palaeobotanist studies plant fossils and must have an interest in rocks and geology.
s A plant physiologist studies the functioning of plants. This involves the growth, development, nutrient uptake and biochemical
  processes of plants.
s Mycology is the study of fungi.
s The plant pathologist studies diseases in plants.
s Plant genetics has two main branches, namely the cultivation of crops and population and evolutionary genetics.
s The weed scientist studies the different types of weeds as well as mechanical, chemical and biological methods of control.

Possible employers: National Botanical Institute; universities, universities of technology and schools; Department of
Agriculture; Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; South African Bureau
of Standards; CSIR; Oceanographic Research Institute; National Parks Boards; industries; Plant Protection Research Institute;
breweries; self-employment (consultants to fertiliser companies or government departments)

The ecologist undertakes environmental studies where the influence that humans have on the natural environment is
investigated, e.g. population size, housing, recreational facilities, pollution and farming. You will try to rectify imbalances caused
to the environment by humans. As an ecologist you will work both outdoors and indoors. You will observe and gather material
that may help you to solve ecological problems. You will also spend time in the laboratory analysing and interpreting data. This
data will then be used to improve understanding of the ecosystem. Commercial utilisation of the ecologist's skills has increased
along with media and public interest in conserving our limited resources. Large building projects, particularly in areas regarded
as being ecologically sensitive, cannot go ahead in these times without a full report from a professional ecologist and often
more than one ecologist is enlisted by different interest groups attempting to gain public approval for their agendas.

Possible employers: CSIR; universities; Department of Agriculture; Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism;
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; The National Parks Board; museums; large industries that have an interest in
conservation; self-employed (consultants). The opportunities in private consulting are likely to increase as pressure is placed on
building consortiums to conduct their own independent environmental impact studies so that they are in a position to state their
case when faced with opposition from various lobby groups to proposed building projects.

A chemist's work revolves around examining the composition, structure and properties of different materials, as well as the
processes and changes they undergo. The chemist works in research and development as well as production and inspection. In
the research and development field, the properties and composition of matter and the laws that govern the combination of
elements are investigated. You will use your knowledge and research findings to help create or improve products. You may be
instrumental in fields such as the development of new paint and drug products. In the fields of production and inspection,
instructions are prepared for plant workers, specifying the kind and amount of ingredients to use and the mixing time for each
stage in the process. In the inspection area, you will test samples to be sure industry and government standards are met.

Chemists may specialise in one of the following disciplines: organic, inorganic, physical, analytical, and theoretical chemistry, as
well as biochemistry and industrial chemistry. Many chemists work as teachers and lecturers. A person with a BSc (Hons) degree
in Chemistry may register as a corporate member and professional chemist at the SA Chemical Institute.

Possible employers: Chemical or other manufacturing industries; educational institutions such as universities, universities of
technology, high schools; research institutes; SA Bureau of Standards; Atomic Energy Corporation - Council for Mineral
Technology; Sasol; Iscor; AECI; CSIR; government departments; self-employed (consultant)

Entomology is the scientific study of insects. The entomologist may do research work or can be employed as an extension
officer and consultant. As a researcher an entomologist works in a variety of fields: conducts detailed studies of insects and their
behaviour; taxonomy, which entails the classification and documentation of insect fauna; the use of beneficial insects; biological
control of harmful insects; integrated pest management; veterinary and medical entomology. As extension officer and consultant
the entomologist gives advice and technical assistance on the above-mentioned subjects to a wide variety of people.

Possible employers: CSIR; universities; museums; research institutes; Department of Agriculture; Department of Health;
Nature Conservation Boards; SA Institute for Medical Research; SA Bureau of Standards; companies that manufacture pesticides

Forensic analyst
As a forensic analyst you will apply your knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry to the task of finding evidence through
chemical analysis.

The services of a forensic analyst are invaluable in police and legal work, as you will called upon to detect traces or confirm the
presence of substances such as poison, drugs and alcohol in the human body during post-mortems. This information will then
be used by the police to assist them in solving crimes, and by the legal profession to secure convictions or prove innocence. The
forensic analyst is often cross-examined in court in respect of his or her findings. Another branch of forensic analysis is in the
field of preventive medicine where food, beverages and habit-forming drugs are tested to determine their safety for human

Possible employers: Department of Health; South African Police Service

Petroleum technologist
The petroleum technologist assists in the exploration of and drilling for oil and gas. He or she makes an important contribution
to the manufacturing of fuel, lubricants and other petroleum products. The petroleum technologist may be involved in the
search for new oil-wells; research on different types of mud used to lubricate drill bits; the evaluation of crude oil to determine
its specific properties and classification; testing and evaluation of the various cuts during the refining process; keeping daily
records of the drilling progress.

The primary function of a petroleum laboratory technologist is quality control in a refinery; a lubricant manufacturing plant; the
field of petroleum product application and use. The products involved are obtained from crude oil by refining processes and
include liquid petroleum and gas; aviation, motor, diesel and furnace fuels; kerosene and solvents; lubricating oils and greases;
waxes, bitumen and special products.

Possible employers: Sasol; Chemical Industries (SCI); refineries; re-refining industry; SABS (Petroleum division); Iscor; SA
National Defence Force; various oil refining companies; Soekor (Southern Oil Exploration Corporation)

Marine biologist
Marine biology is the science concerned with all aspects of plant and animal life in the sea. The marine biologist studies the
distribution, abundance, life histories and environmental impact of animals and plants in the sea. The aim is to understand
marine life and to ensure the production of food from the sea. The field of marine biology can be divided into research and
technical work. The researcher studies the marine system as a whole or focuses on a particular marine species, whereas a
technical marine biologist is more involved in collecting samples, building and testing equipment and analysing data. The marine
biologist is concerned with the effects of pollution on marine life, the effect of introducing commercially imported species into
the waters, identifying ecologically sensitive areas and assisting in establishing the ecological effects of projects like the
construction of harbours and piers. An honours degree is the minimum qualification to become a researcher.

Possible employers: Universities, Museums, CSIR, Sea Fisheries Research Institute, Department of Environmental Affairs and
Tourism, National Parks Board, Oceanographic Research Institute, commercial fishing companies, own business as consultant

A microbiologist studies the anatomy, genetics, physiology and environmental interaction of micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi,
viruses). This knowledge is used to manipulate selected micro-organisms to improve the quality of human life.

Microbiologists may study the appearance and activities of harmful organisms in food to determine whether these foodstuffs are
fit for human consumption; try to isolate an organism responsible for causing a certain disease and, after research, try to develop
a vaccine to prevent the disease, or antibiotics to treat it; be involved in the manufacturing of chemicals; conduct product and
process control; try to find solutions for fresh water pollution; or be involved in the control of unwanted microbic activities which
cause losses, e.g. degrading aviation fuel, corroding iron tubing and breaking down textile products.

Possible employers: Hospitals, clinics and other health care facilities; medical schools; medical research councils; agricultural
research organisations; food, fermentation and pharmaceutical industries; SABS; CSIR; Department of Agriculture; Department
of Health; Department of Water Affairs and Forestry; Department of Trade and Industry; universities and universities of
technology; practising pathologists
Physiologists are biological scientists who study the various life functions of plants, animals and man under normal and abnormal
conditions. They specialise in the study of cells, tissues or one of the organs. They are interested in the internal "communication"
of organs, energy procurement and utilisation, blood circulation, defence systems against infection, repair mechanisms,
reproduction and metabolism. He or she investigates the effects that factors such as drugs or pollution have on the life
processes and bodily functions of plants and animals. The physiologist provides the basis for much of the work done by
pathologists, nutritionists and toxicologists.

Possible employers: Chamber of Mines' Human Science Laboratory; Central Medical Laboratory of the Defence Force;
Medical Research Council; CSIR; Department of Agriculture; Veterinary Research Institute, Onderstepoort; agricultural research
institutes; medical schools; hospitals; pathology laboratories; universities; Iscor (Industrial Hygiene); self-employed as industrial

The zoologist studies the origin, growth and development, structure, environment, classification, behaviour and life processes of
animals. Because this field is so broad, the zoologist usually specialises in a type of animal or animal family, or in certain aspects
of animal life such as genetics or animal classification. Zoologists may engage in the following activities: studying live animals in
controlled or natural settings; dissecting animals to study their anatomy and physiology; being involved in the identification and
classification of animals; conducting research into the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of both animal and human diseases;
working as a consultant or curator for zoos, aquariums or wild life parks.

Possible employers: Research Institutes (for example, the Tick Research Institute, the Oceanographic Research Institute,
National Collection for Insects); Department of Agriculture; Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; museums; zoos;
CSIR; National Parks Board; Provincial Nature Conservation departments; private organisations such as game farms;
pharmaceutical firms; own business (consulting)

Animal Scientist
The animal scientist studies livestock in their specific environment as well as the products they produce such as meat, milk, eggs,
fibres and leather. The development of new animal products and the processing and marketing thereof is also of concern to the
animal scientist. The animal scientist gives advice on production and the presentation of animal products; conducts research in
the areas of animal selection, breeding, feeding, housing and disease control; controls breeding practices to improve certain
strains in animals. The nature of the work varies from working directly with animals to the fundamentals of molecular
biotechnology. As a consulting animal scientist you will have to travel and you will find yourself experiencing the industry in a
wide sense. Qualified animal scientists register with the South African Council for Professional Animal Scientists

Possible employers: Research organisations, Agricultural Research Council, CSIR, Companies involved in farming,
manufacturing industries, The Department of Agriculture; agricultural colleges; universities and universities of technology;
agricultural advisors; livestock industry; agricultural consultants

The Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science, Rhodes University, PO Box 94, Grahamstown 6140
The Society of Medical Laboratory Technologists of SA, PO Box 6014, Rogge Bay, 8012, South Africa. Tel.: (021) 419 4857
The SA Chemical Institute, PO Box 93480, Yeoville, 2143, South Africa. Tel.: (011) 487 1543
The SA Chemical Institute, PO Box 93480, Yeoville, 2143, South Africa. Tel.: (011) 487 1543
Chemical and Allied Industries Association, PO Box 91415, Auckland Park, 2006, South Africa. Tel.: (011) 482 1671

® Informational interviewing: Speak to individuals who work within your field of interest. Try to interview a variety of
® Visit the various websites listed above for further information, or do a Google search for science careers/jobs in
  South Africa.
® the successful choice of a qualification, after proper research in terms of your own interests, skills, values and
  personality combined with specific occupational knowledge.
® carefully chosen and committed extramural involvement that will enable you to improve your employability.
® full-time/part-time vacation or voluntary work.
® continuous research of career and job options leading from your qualification.
                                                                                                     CONTACT US
The Bureau can assist you with issues regarding your career                              Pretoria: (012) 429-3513    Fax: (012) 429-3698
development:                                                                          Johannesburg: (011) 630-4535   Fax: (011) 630-4537
                                                                                        Polokwane: (015) 290-3441    Fax: (015) 291-3448
® Make an appointment to see a counsellor in person.                                          KwaZulu-Natal:         Fax: (031) 337-4142
® Phone a counsellor.                                                                        (031) 335-1745
® Send an e-mail to counselling@unisa.ac.za.                                          Western Cape: (021) 936-4130   Fax: (021) 936-4131

® Visit the website at http://www.unisa.ac.za/counselling.

To top