Great question! Well to become a “scientist” you usually have to study something science-based at University. This can lead to all sorts of interesting jobs in science and teaches you about ‘how to do science’ and a lot about what other scientists have found out in the past.
A lot of scientists go on to do more studying and start doing their own research – this is called a PhD and it means you do research into something that nobody else has done before and write all about it in a big book (called a thesis) and then get tested on was you have found out. Then other scientists can use your results to help them do the next bit of ‘new stuff’. It takes about 3 years in the UK (longer in the USA and other countries!) and you get to become a ‘Dr’ at the end of it.
There are many routes into science, but Jennifer has covered the most often thought of one. Other options include taking an apprenticeship, instead of going to university. This is where you work with a company (or sometimes a university) and learn about how to do a specific science job for 3 years or so, about the length of time you would normally spend at university.
You can also go to university and go straight into a job from there as well. There are many many companies who you can work for and become a scientist with them.
Whether you want to start right at the end of (secondary!) school, or spend lots of time at university, if you want to be a scientist, there is a route for you.
Fab question. To be a scientist you need to be nosey. Ask questions, be inquisitive. You need to find something that you are excited about, something that you get a thrill out of working on. Most scientists will have studied ‘science’ at university, learnt the theory, how to communicate and how to analyse the information. Being a good communicator is very important as you need to and will want to tell the world about what you do and what you found and why it is so important.