Barbara Stocker is a librarian, Tom Monahan and Mary Boguslaski are patent attorneys, and Randy McBeath is a marketer. Randy Atkins produces television features, and Elizabeth Culotta writes for a newspaper. Ken Freese searches out commercial applications of research at a government laboratory, while Tom Walsh plays a similar role at a university. Yet all have a common background: They were trained as scientists, some with many years of experience as bench researchers or instructors. By applying their training in new fields, they have carved out a career niche, using their science backgrounds in jobs that are on the periphery of active research.

These scientific career switchers represent a small but significant proportion of scientists who are bailing out of career paths that lead to teaching or R&D. One National Science Foundation survey estimates that during 1985, about 8 percent of natural scientists, engineers, and computer specialists opted to leave...

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