As Louis Pasteur observed, "Chance favors the prepared mind."
That is the nature of careers in science and engineering—as it is of careers in general (Tobias et al. 1995). The profiles that appear throughout this book demonstrate how fluid the course of American education and employment can be when you are sufficiently qualified, motivated, and open-minded to accept a new opportunity when it comes.
Most scientists and engineers find careers in three general sectors of society: colleges and universities, industries, and federal and state agencies. Their work includes an array of activities, from the conduct of basic and applied research to the design and application of new commercial products to the operation and maintenance of large engineering systems.
You can make your planning more effective by appreciating the direction in which professional careers are shifting within that larger picture. For example, for many students, a PhD will mean a career as an academic researcher. But more than half the students who receive PhDs in science and engineering obtain work outside academe—a proportion that has increased steadily for 2 decades. And full-time academic positions in general are more difficult to find than they were during the 1960s and 1970s, when the research enterprise was expanding more rapidly.
As our society changes, so too do the opportunities for careers in science and engineering. The end of the Cold War has removed some incentive for the federal government to fund defense-oriented basic research. Increased national and