What subjects are needed to become a Scientist in SA?

To become a scientist in South Africa, students need to focus on Mathematics and Science subjects, specifically Physical Sciences and Life Sciences in Grade 12. The specific subjects might vary depending on the field of science you are interested in, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or environmental science.

Key Grade 12 Subjects for Aspiring Scientists


Mathematics is essential for all scientific careers. It provides critical problem-solving skills and is fundamental for understanding complex scientific concepts. Advanced mathematics can be particularly advantageous for fields like physics and engineering.

Physical Sciences

Physical Sciences covers both physics and chemistry, which are foundational to many scientific disciplines. This subject is crucial for understanding the principles of matter and energy, essential for careers in chemistry, physics, and engineering.

Life Sciences

Life Sciences is important for those interested in biology, genetics, environmental science, and health sciences. It provides a base in human biology, ecosystems, and the functionality of living organisms.

Further Education and Specializations

After high school, aspiring scientists typically need to pursue further education:

Undergraduate Studies

A Bachelor’s degree in a science-related field is usually the first step. Common degrees include BSc (Bachelor of Science) in fields like biology, chemistry, physics, or environmental science.

Postgraduate Studies

For those looking to delve deeper into research or specialized fields, postgraduate studies such as a Master’s or Doctoral degree might be necessary. These programs allow for specialization and often involve significant research components.

Career Opportunities

Scientists can work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Academic institutions: Conducting research and teaching.
  • Research institutes: Focusing on specific research areas.
  • Private sector: Industries like pharmaceuticals, technology, and biotechnology offer roles in research and development.
  • Government agencies: Working on policy, conservation, and management of natural resources.
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The path to becoming a scientist is marked by curiosity, rigorous education, and continual learning. “The important thing is to never stop questioning.” — Albert Einstein. This quote underscores the essence of a scientist’s career, driven by an unending quest for knowledge and understanding.