Nanotechnology is a broad, fast-growing area of science that lies within the intersection of chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, medicine, computer science, materials science, physical science, and other areas. Nanotechnologies are spread across this broad area, creating one of nanotech's greatest appeals: the variety of specialization it affords. Workers who have the proper interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary training for nanotechnology jobs possess skills and knowledge that are highly marketable and in demand. Depending on a person's training and education, expected salaries will range upward from $30,000 for an associate degree to $100,000 and more for doctorates in 2009.
The National Science Foundation estimates that many thousands of workers will be needed to support nanotech industries in the United States. These nanotechnology jobs will be built upon early successful uses of nanotechnology in improving stain-free clothing, sunscreens, water filtration, and burn and wound dressings, and they will be partially supported by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) that began in 2001 with a budget of $464 million and grew to a $1.5 billion budget for 2009.
Nanotechnology job areas
Most nanotechnology jobs are currently oriented toward research and development, but it is expected that companies will seek employees to apply their educations to a wide array of practical and commercial applications in such diverse areas as chemistry, ethics, information technology, microfluidics, and optoelectronics.
Because nanoscience spans many skill and knowledge areas, the jobs it generates will be quite diverse. A few of the areas in which you might find a future job are:
Research: Researchers and the technicians who support them work in a variety of scientific fields to discover and implement the principles and theories learned in the classroom. It is currently estimated that some 20,000 people worldwide are performing research work to better understand and develop the technology in order to find solutions to problems and benefit all people.
Education: Educators help deepen the collective knowledge in the field and help prepare the next generation of revolutionary nanotech professionals. At the university level, faculty members conduct their own research, publish their findings, and facilitate the learning of others.
Manufacturing: Skilled workers will apply their knowledge to the manufacturing process and produce items developed through, effected by, or utilizing nanosicence. Varying amounts of skill and knowledge will be needed within the manufacturing process. Factory workers may utilize principles of nanotech fabrication in order to produce consumer and industrial products.
Engineering: Nanotech engineers do largely the same type of work as other engineers, developing solutions to economic, safety, and practical problems. As an innovative and resourceful engineer, you would apply nanoscience to consumer electronics, medical equipment, artificial organs, and thousands of other developments.
Medicine: Professionals in nanomedicine will use or develop effective ways to deliver drugs, fight cancer, perform surgery, target specific cells within the body, view the interior of the body while operating, and improve the health of people around the world.
Business: Some graduates go on to become entrepreneurs in some of the fastest growing markets. As nanoscience revolutionizes everything from cars to clothing and computers to medicine, investors will rush to develop or identify "the next big thing" and capitalize on it.
The "nano-" prefix can be applied to almost any career, offering a plethora of opportunities in any field for any interest. When deciding to pursue a nanotechnology job, it is best to choose your subfield first to ensure that you receive the proper education to make yourself marketable in the niche you prefer.