I've decided to do a new round of profiles in the Project for Non-Academic Science (acronym deliberately chosen to coincide with a journal), as a way of getting a little more information out there to students studying in STEM fields who will likely end up with jobs off the "standard" academic science track.
Fifth in this round is a bio major who now works on sustainably managing Atlantic coastal fisheries.
1) What is your non-academic job? Fishery Management Plan Coordinator at the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (management agency for fisheries)
2) What is your science background? I have a BA from Washington University in St. Louis in biology and a MS from College of Charleston in environmental science.
3) What led you to this job? I am passionate about the ocean and fisheries issues are a large part of the health of the ocean, so I focused on fisheries in graduate school and that has led me to my current position.
4) What's your work environment like? (Lab bench, field work, office, etc) I work in an office and travel frequently for committee meetings. Periodically, I get out into the field to help out with surveys.
5) What do you do in a typical day? In a typical day, I speak with scientists and fishermen about various management actions to determine possible impacts. I also draft documents and give public hearings. I am the liaison between the management board (that makes the management decisions) and the scientists/fishermen that provide input to the boards.
6) How does your science background help you in your job? My science background is valuable because it has helped me to understand the technicalities involved in fisheries. For example, we conduct stock assessments for each species that involve complex models and various data inputs. My science education has provided me the background to understand the technical info, translate it in documents, and then portray that information to the appropriate stakeholder or board.
7) If a current college student wanted to get a job like yours, how
should they go about it? My job, and most jobs in fisheries policy, require a masters degree in environmental science or marine biology and some experience in field work. As I've described, the science background is key to understanding the biology of the stock, potential impacts to the environment and a variety of other issues.
8) What's the most important thing you learned from science? Science has provided me with the framework for my problem-solving skills. It is logic-based, and has taught me how to approach everyday problems in a straightforward manner by asking questions like "What is the problem? What is a logical way to address this problem?" etc etc. It also has helped incredibly with my time management skills, as science in general is one of the more demanding majors so organization and time management is a skill I gained through my education.
9) What advice would you give to young science students trying to plan
their careers? I would tell young college science students to find what they are passionate about and research different career paths based on their interests. Then, simply pursue those career paths. I would also suggest speaking with professionals in the field to determine various options.
10) (Totally Optional Question) What's the pay like? My salary range is $50,000 - $75,000, although it was $25,000 - $50,000 coming out of graduate school.
Dear Marin Hawk,
You have a great name.