For me, there are two parts to becoming a scientist: why I wanted to become a scientist and how I then went about doing that.
Fundamentally, I became a scientist because I was interested in how things worked. In particular, I’ve always been interested in technology – computers, mobile phones, solar cells and so on. I felt this way at school, and so since then have always made choices that have allowed me to carry on doing this.
It may sound a little cheesy, but anyone really can be a scientist. All you need is an interest in a subject and to want to know more about it. For example, some ecologists work really does rely on data collected by the general public about different species, birds, and butterflies and so on, in their local area.
I became a scientist because I was interested in how things worked”
The second part of this question is then the route you might take to actually having a career as a scientist.
The first step to this would be taking science subjects at A-level, followed by an undergraduate degree in the subject. I myself took an undergraduate degree in Physics with Professional Experience.
At this point, it starts to get messy. It wouldn’t be unusual for someone who knew they wanted to be a scientist as a career to then do a postgraduate degree, commonly known as a PhD. A PhD is focussed on doing new research, compared to an undergraduate degree which is more focussed on learning about the subject.
It may sound a little cheesy, but anyone really can be a scientist”
However, you do not need to get a PhD to start working for an industrial company as a research scientist. I myself worked for commercial companies as a researcher before starting my PhD, and considered myself a scientist when I was doing new research during my placement year.