I started playing the game with a Tactical Officer, which I still have and still want to level. Then I made a Science officer, and at least for the levels before Lt Commander I see almost no change in Space Combat, while I see some minor change in ground combat, mainly due to the available kits.
While doing missions I grouped with random people through the open team feature... and I was the only Science Officer around! They were all either Engineers or Tactical.
I do like the idea of supporting my group, am I going to get some nice space skills at some point where that is possible? Or will I just be support in ground? Also I hear Engineers can heal and buff party members, although in different ways. Would that be why people don't choose to be a Science Officer?
And does it matter what ship I take if I want to be a support? I feel I should choose a Cruiser more than a Science Vessels as Cruisers have more survivability, but what will a Science Vessel offer to me over a Cruiser?
SCI ships have 3 SCI BO power slots one of which is t2 SCI skill, and 2 sci console slots (this is t2)
Surivablity is fine in a SCI ship, you have strongest shields in Game, just rotate your shield facing and ajust power to damaged facings as needed
i use shield xfer 1 sheild xfer 2 and sci team 1 for my three, you can also use your eng BO power for eng team so you can heal hull damage (yorus and frends) and use your tatical BO for Security team (also works on you and frends) if you want
the other way to go, and i know you said you want to support othersr, is use your Sci BO power slots for ablitiies. there are several SCI BO powers that do things to enmy ships, you can use your 3 Sci officer BO fot those insted of healing ablitys as well.
Cruisers don't necessarily have more survivability. Science vessels, to my understanding, have better shields, and can debuff enemies to a greater extent (more science BO skills due to more science stations!!)
If you're a science officer, then you're going to have a bit of a hard time utilizing some of the cool BO skills you can train to Tier III, once you get there.
I enjoy my science vessel (or did, in OB), and I find the turning radius and shields to offer great survivability, even compared to cruisers.
I'm not sure about Feds but Klingons don't get dedicated Science vessel until the carrier at end game. But they get BoPs with universal BO slots. As for ground combat, I don't support but basically smash the enemies with my hyperradiation and the 8 sec fragile hold, both with 10% chance to expose, and I carry a sniper rifle. Space combat chances depending on what you want to do, you can still do combat, but your skills tend to lead more to disruption/tanking.