Degree Choices for a Nanotechnology Career - dummies

Degree Choices for a Nanotechnology Career

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

Working in nanotechnology usually involves some knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology. Any of these areas of study can provide a logical foundation for a nanotechnology education.

Some other areas of study that could have a nanotechnology angle include

  • Agriculture

  • Business

  • Engineering (electronics, aerospace, mechanical, chemical, and so on)

  • Environmental studies

  • Ethics

  • Forensic science

  • Law

  • Material science

  • Medicine

In general, it’s wise to choose a major that fits an area you’d like to work in, and get that basic education first.

After you determine an area of study, you need to find a school that offers either a nanotechnology-specific degree such as nanomedicine or degrees in your area of interest, such as medicine or biology, with a focus or credential in nanotechnology.

Some schools offer degrees in nanotechnology; others provide a nanotechnology focus within degree programs such as chemistry, engineering, or medicine. You might consider getting an undergraduate degree in one of these areas, and then getting a graduate or postgraduate degree specifically in nanotechnology.

When you determine whether to go for a nano degree or simply a degree with a nano focus, how do you choose your degree(s)? With one projection of two million nanoworkers needed around the world by 2015, you can pretty much choose the level of education and career focus you want.

Start by deciding how much time and money you can invest in your career. According to NNIN, here are some common degrees with the associated time commitment for a full-time high school graduate:

  • Technical program (2 years)

  • Associate’s degree (2 years)

  • Bachelor’s degree (4 years)

  • Master’s degree (6 years)

  • Doctorate (8 years)

Technical school and associate’s degrees will probably lead to nanotechnician jobs, performing somewhat routine chores in a fabrication or laboratory setting. Bachelor’s degrees may lead a range of positions from process engineering in a manufacturing facility to marketing. Master’s and doctorate degrees may lead to higher paying and perhaps more challenging jobs in research or academia.