This series explores occupations and skills that lead to long, productive careers, and the chance to work overseas. In Part I of this series we looked at some of the rapidly expanding domains in IT. During Part II we discussed some blue collar jobs with a global appeal. In this part we’ll review career paths via one of the most intellectually stimulating and fulfilling pursuits – research.
The pharmaceutical industry invests in excess of $70 billion in research annually. Most of this investment is aimed toward filing successful patents that allow pharma companies to remain profitable. The value of a single pharma patent can be in the billions of dollars. Drug discovery is a very systematic industrial research process. It is a complex interdisciplinary collaboration which employs specialists in microbiology, chemistry, spectroscopy, and a range of other sciences. Researchers often work in exclusive labs equipped with state of the art equipment. Drug research can be a painstaking process involving extensive testing. Sometimes it deals with extracting substances from naturally occurring plants and animals. At other times it requires synthesizing entirely new chemical compounds. Pharma researchers are highly valued specialists with a median pay of about $120,000 per annum. Researchers in this profession dedicate their careers to improving global healthcare.
Our energy consumption defines our progress as humanity. This is meant quite literally. According to the Kardashev scale civilizations are defined as type I, II and III based on how they get their energy. A type III civilization can harness all the energy available in its entire galaxy. The human civilization is currently a “type 0”. By being an energy researcher you can help change that. Energy is a vast research field with limitless possibilities. One can specialize in solar, wind, fossil, tidal, fission, fusion, biomass, or other energy sources. Researchers can delve deep into a sub-domain such as energy storage, transmission, conversion, or distribution. Each of these is a world of its own. For example a researcher can spend an entire career improving the efficiency of offshore wind turbine blades. The ideology surrounding energy generation and consumption is undergoing a global seismic shift. There are a number of highly specialized region-specific energy research institutes worldwide. As an energy researcher you can get plenty of opportunities to travel and work overseas.
The biology of all organisms on earth is defined by their genetic material. Genetics is the study of how hereditary traits are passed from one generation to the next. The purpose of genetic research is usually to preserve desirable traits in species while eliminating unwanted ones. Many of our food crops have been genetically modified into higher yielding, more resistant hybrids. Genetics is also the science which helps determine our origins as a species. Biologists continue to discover new species regularly, particularly in the deep seas. Genetics help determine their roles and importance. Due to diminishing global biodiversity genetics is becoming a domain of strong interest. Much of the recent advancement in genetics is the subject of global collaboration and discourse, particularly in human genetics. To start a research career in genetics you’ll require at least a master’s degree, and almost certainly a PhD as well. You’ll be expected to frequently publish your research in scientific journals, and interact with an international scientific community. Gene researchers can expect to earn $100,000 annually on average.
This is another important field with strong and continuous international collaboration. Without astronomy there would be no weather forecasts, navigation systems, airlines, shipping, mobile phones, or satellite TV. Humans would never have gone into space, much less traveled to the moon. Astronomers spend as much time watching comets and stars, as they do deepening our knowledge of the earth. Visible light is limited in its range and resolution. Astronomers rely increasingly on radio and x-ray telescopes. Astronomy requires very precise observations over long periods of time, sometimes years. This is followed by a good deal of number crunching with supercomputers. Nowadays much of astronomy is about discovering new objects and phenomena whose existence is only indirectly observed. Dark matter, pulsars, quasars, and black holes are only some of these. An added perk of being an astronomer is that most of the world’s major observatories are in scenic locations. The night skies look very different from the two hemispheres. Astronomers frequently travel internationally to make observations and compare notes. Make sure to have a trusted partner for all your money transfer needs during your many travels. Astronomy is a career filled with awe and wonder.
There are thousands of specialized research areas. Research is an inherently collaborative activity. Research environments are frequently populated by international teams. The acceptance of migrants in research jobs is very high. Some countries have special high-priority visa categories for researchers. In terms of qualifications the entry barriers to research jobs may seem high. However, the value of skilled researchers more than compensates for this. R&D is among the most consistent, well-paid jobs in any industry. The combination of credentials and proficiency in research is guaranteed to keep you gainfully employed for life.