What Does an Applied Scientist Do? 2024 Career Guide

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Applied science is an exciting field with growing demand. Explore details of what an applied scientist career is like, including the required skills and background, the average applied scientist salary, and how to work in different applied scientist jobs.

[Featured image] An applied scientist works on a computer in a lab.

Nearly every industry benefits from applied scientists since they're responsible for finding ways to use technology to make our lives better. Applied scientists often work in teams with professionals across various disciplines covering a range of fields. If you’re interested in optics, electrical engineering, material science, or machine learning, you’ll likely enjoy an applied scientist position. 

Applied scientist roles are great options for people who want to contribute to improving business processes and make a difference in other people’s lives. They can work on specialized or elite projects and create new technologies that change the landscape of science for the better.

If you're interested in this career, explore the position in greater detail to help you decide.

What is an applied scientist?

Applied scientists have in-depth knowledge of one or more scientific fields and use methods and research skills to solve real-world problems and help businesses meet their objectives. They typically devote their time to developing new technologies, devices, and processes that help improve the landscape of their industry and the quality of life. Unlike other types of science, which involve posing theoretical questions, applied science finds practical solutions and functional applications for its results. 

Applied science is an overarching term for scientists who work with various scientific methodologies to create new inventions or processes that improve daily lives. Applied scientists tend to work in private sector industries, such as health care, banking, engineering, or technology, to create solutions that apply immediately to the problem and devise innovative solutions that advance their field or focus of study.

Read more: Your Guide to the Bachelor of Applied Science Degree

What does an applied scientist do?

Applied scientists apply scientific research and conduct studies to innovate solutions to real-world scenarios and challenges. You'll find various types of applied science jobs. In this article, we’ve highlighted three different types of applied scientist roles to show the breadth and range of this field.

Applied scientist tasks and responsibilities

Applied scientist duties are as varied as the jobs themselves, and your tasks will differ depending on the type of applied scientist job you have. You may travel, in some instances, to further your research. You may also create models and work with algorithms to build upon and improve existing solutions and processes. To illustrate the range of duties you may encounter, we’ve gathered examples of typical duties in aerospace, biomedical, and statistics:

Aerospace engineering

  • Draft and test designs for spacecraft, aircraft, and missiles

  • Perform tests and procedures to find any faults in designs

  • Research and report on new technologies 

  • Create reports, manuals, and process documents

Biomedical engineering

  • Design equipment to help diagnose and treat medical conditions

  • Design and build artificial limbs and organs

  • Install, maintain, and repair various medical equipment

  • Act as medical science liaison to other professionals


  • Create polls, questionnaires, and surveys

  • Analyze data to help make decisions

  • Use statistics to solve real-world problems

  • Use mathematics to interpret data and draw conclusions

Applied scientist skills

To be successful, you’ll need a robust skill set that includes technical and workplace skills. Technical skills represent the practical aspects of your role, while workplace skills contribute to how productive you are in a work environment.

Although the specific skills required for an applied scientist position depend on the type of applied scientist role you work in, some general skills include:

Technical skills

  • Ability to create and implement algorithms and models 

  • Data analysis and visualization

  • Experience with design software and different operating systems

  • Computational software experience, such as MATLAB

  • Familiarity with engineering processes

  • Mathematics and analytical skills

  • Experience working with sensitive information

Workplace skills

  • Strong attention to detail

  • Critical thinking and fast action to address issues as they arise

  • Collaboration with teams and clients

  • Communication skills

Applied science and AI

Applied science uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to support the different machine learning processes to create real-world solutions and practical applications. It helps process data across multiple types of applied science and helps scientists innovate in cutting-edge and novel ways, such as mapping poverty levels or developing technologies never seen before. AI helps make sense of large data sets and creates accelerated research processes.

Applied scientist salary and job outlook

As an applied scientist, you can anticipate earning a robust salary. However, the average applied scientist salary differs based on the industry that you might work in. According to  Lightcast™, the average salary for applied scientists working in aerospace engineering, biomedical engineering, and statistics are as follows:

  • Aerospace engineers make an average annual salary of $128,192 [1]. The job growth for this role is about 6 percent, which is above average [2].

  • Biomedical engineers make an average annual salary of $108,056 [3]. The job growth for this role is about 5 percent, which is faster than average [4].

  • Statisticians make an average annual salary of $104,713 [5]. The job growth for this role is about 30 percent, which is significantly higher than the average across all professions [6].

Applied scientist career path

Due to the varied nature of applied science, you can find roles in nearly any field you find yourself interested in, which also provides a career path with many options. You’ll generally want a strong mathematics, engineering, or computer background. Then, you’ll need to examine the specifics of the role you want to pursue.

Education and training

Some examples of the specific education and training you’ll need for different applied scientist careers include:

1. Aerospace engineer

To become an aerospace engineer, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree in physics, mechanical engineering, or astronomy. Some candidates get advanced degrees in aerospace engineering to make themselves more competitive. Experience with different aircraft and spacecraft is helpful, and you might need security clearance based on your company’s security protocols.

2. Biomedical engineer

You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering or a similar engineering subject to enter this field. Experience in medical or lab settings is also helpful. It’s essential to choose a biomedical specialization that appeals to your interests and talents, so take the time to consider your motivations and what you’d like to work on, such as artificial limbs, to help people.

3. Statistician

Becoming a statistician typically requires a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or statistics at a minimum. You’ll want to have experience with compiling sensitive data into reports. Many employers look for statisticians who also carry advanced degrees, as well. Statisticians often work within industries such as finance or business.

Getting started with Coursera

Sharpen your applied science skills and learn about the foundational knowledge required to become an applied scientist with courses and educational offerings on Coursera. Options like IBM’s Applied Data Science Specialization allow you to learn about essential information and processes needed for success within an applied scientist role. You may also consider pursuing more specific courses, such as John Hopkins University’s Foundations of Health Care Systems Engineering or Stanford University’s Introduction to Statistics

Article sources


Lightcast™ Analyst. “Occupation Summary for Aerospace Engineers.” Accessed March 15, 2024.

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