• Question: how long did it take to become a scientist

    Asked by esmyth12 on 5 Jun 2019. This question was also asked by potatochild.
    • Photo: Nina Rzechorzek

      Nina Rzechorzek answered on 5 Jun 2019: last edited 5 Jun 2019 12:55 pm


      Well, it usually takes 3-6 years to do an undergraduate science degree (depending on subject), then if you want to do a PhD that takes at least another 3 years. But to be honest, scientists never stop learning and so there isn’t really a clear definition of when someone ‘becomes a scientist’. To be an independent scientist you need to have your own research question(s), potentially have your own research team, and be able to attract and sustain the financial support for carrying out your research. Getting to that stage can take many years.

    • Photo: Marianne King

      Marianne King answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      It really depends on what you consider a scientist. I guess if say we become scientists when we get paid to do it, then it can take around 3-4 years. This includes an undergraduate and masters degree, which is what I did before my PhD. But to get a permanent job in a university running a research lab and getting enough money to do your research can take many years, and lots of people don’t ever reach that level. But there are loads of other scientist jobs available so it’s not too depressing.

    • Photo: James Streetley

      James Streetley answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      I studied for 8 years after leaving Sixth Form before I got my first job in science. That was 3 years for a BSc, 1 year for an MRes and 4 years for a PhD.

      I was lucky enough to have a studentship for doing a PhD, so I earned some money while I was doing it. That made it feel like a job and that I was already a junior scientist. So I guess it depends on when you think you’ve become a scientist!

    • Photo: David Wilson

      David Wilson answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      My undergraduate degree took 4 years. Since then i’ve done a Post Graduate Diploma and Post Graduate Certificate that both took 1 year each. and a Masters that took 2 years because I did it part time while still working. So that’s 8 years in total so far. I’m about to start a PhD which will take me another 4 years. I’m still learning πŸ™‚

    • Photo: Kate Timms

      Kate Timms answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      I did a 3 year undergraduate degree (Biomedical Sciences), then a 1 year masters degree, then I worked for a year, then did a 4 year PhD. Now I’m working as a researcher. BUT I was researching that whole time. So technically I was a scientist all along. You also start getting paid from being a PhD student onwards. But if you’re talking about how long it took to have a job as a researcher, it took me 9 years! But don’t let that put you off. Doing a PhD isn’t like being in school. You’re basically doing full time research by that point.

    • Photo: Shobhana Nagraj

      Shobhana Nagraj answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      I studied at medical school for 6 years. Then, if you want to be a doctor and a scientist it can take anywhere between a further 4 to 10 years to complete your training! It is a long road but fun along the way if you enjoy what you do!

    • Photo: Ross Hill

      Ross Hill answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      3 Years of undergraduate study
      1 Year of Research experience in a lab in London
      3-4 Years studying for my PhD

      A life time of interest in the natural world (This is by far the most important one)

    • Photo: Rebecca Moon

      Rebecca Moon answered on 5 Jun 2019:


      I was at medical school for 6 years, then I’ve been working as a doctor and doing research as a doctor for another 13 years so far. My PhD which is where you do a really detailed research study and write a massive project on it, took 3 years to do, which is about usual for a PhD. But it’s really hard to pinpoint at which exact moment someone becomes a scientists as we are all growing our scientific knowledge continually.

    • Photo: Rachel Hardy

      Rachel Hardy answered on 5 Jun 2019: last edited 5 Jun 2019 9:40 pm


      It took me 4 years to complete my undergraduate degree at Manchester University in biomedical sciences (including one year working on a placement at a pharmaceutical company). Now I am working towards my PhD, which will take another 4 years (I have nearly finished my second). After that, I hope to get a job and call myself a fully trained scientist (8 years). However, like the others were saying, I think as a scientist we are always learning new things, and how to be the best we can. Also, you do not have to do a PhD to be a scientist. I have friends who went out to get a job straight after their first University degree in a science subject, and now have perfectly good science jobs πŸ™‚

    • Photo: Matthew Bareford

      Matthew Bareford answered on 6 Jun 2019:


      This all depends on the type of scientist you want to become!

      in general you would certainly need an undergraduate degree (3 – 4 years)

      If you wanted to then complete a Master’s degree (1 year)

      a PhD to become a Doctor (3 – 4 years)

      So a minimum of 3 with a maximum of 8.. But that doesn’t have to be done all at once, and whilst it is a clichΓ©, it is very true that you never stop learning, and so your becoming more of a scientist everyday!

    • Photo: Kaitlin Wade

      Kaitlin Wade answered on 7 Jun 2019:


      I would say that I’m still training to be a scientist! But, it’s taken me about 11 years from the end of school to this point. I did 3 years at University to get my degree (which I completed in 2011), then I did 4 years to complete my PhD (which I completed in 2015) and now I’m a post-doctoral researcher. So yeah, about 11 years.

    • Photo: Thiloka Ratnaike

      Thiloka Ratnaike answered on 9 Jun 2019:


      I am an academic clinical fellow- it took my 8 years of a MBBS PhD and 2 years of foundation doctor training to actually start this fellowship! However, if you want to be a clinical researcher there are plenty of different, and much shorter, routes in – you can do a 5 year MBBS degree, and apply for an academic clinical foundation training (AFP) job to start the route into research. You could always do an intercalated MRes during the MBBS in order to find out about research prior to becoming a doctor. You could also find out about research after becoming a doctor! Lots of opportunities eitherway as long as you are motivated and fairly organised πŸ™‚

    • Photo: Ettie Unwin

      Ettie Unwin answered on 11 Jun 2019:


      I went to work for a defence engineering company for a year straight out of school and I guess was working as a scientist then! However to be fully trained I did four years for a MEng degree in mechanical engineering and then a further 3.5 for a PhD. However, now I work in disease modelling and haven’t done any biology since I was 16 so I’m always learning from textbooks and my colleagues.

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