Last Updated: July 25, 2021

Careers in Biology

Choosing a future career can be difficult, especially when the decision is made at a young age. Many people know, before applying to college, that they have a passion for science and associated fields. This passion can lead to strong future careers in the world of science. A major that can lead to a future in the science industry is biology. Biology is the study of living organisms that involves the understanding of how they develop and grow, maintain life, where do they come from, and what they do. Simply put, biology is a scientific discipline that deals with what living things do, how they thrive, and how everything is related to one another.

Biology offers a wide range of possibilities for a career, especially since it has so many different focuses in the field of study. Options in biology can range from molecular and cellular biology to botany and toxicology, so the possibilities are endless. To enter into a career in biology, however, prerequisites must be met. As biology has such a wide range of areas of focus, an undergraduate degree typically just qualifies for general, overall biology. To specify a focus in the field, further educational studies, like a postgraduate degree, or doctoral degree are required. Further education allows for a stronger foundation, a longer period of study in the specific area of biology, as well as help the student gain more experience working in the biology field. Most careers will require a postgraduate degree or some extensive training or field experience to enter into a position of work.

Career Options for Biology Undergraduates

The undergraduate degree in biology offers foundational courses which are fit to provide the fundamentals of various aspects and, thereby, help students understand what they will pursue thereafter. Career choices in biology are limitless, and as a newly career-focused biologist, an entry-level job is typically the first choice. Within the United States, the top entry-level positions that commonly arise in a job search are pharmacy technicians, biology teachers, biology technicians, and research assistants. Biology technicians usually conduct experiments and record data throughout the process. An entry-level technician's annual base salary ranges from around $37,000-$42,000, depending on the company and workload required.

Career Options for Biology Graduates

Biology is a broad topic that encompasses a multitude of other disciplines and specializations. This evidently provides a lot of scopes for students to focus on any of these specializations and pursue a higher degree of knowledge by acquiring a master's degree, or even a doctoral degree thereafter. The higher the level of degree the more demand there is for the individual, making it easier and beneficial for the student to get hired. Internships and volunteering for research work, or an experience as an assistant, along with the required practical skills, besides academic excellence, is a bonus.

Becoming a biologist is a broad career prospect. A biologist is responsible to conduct research and do a detailed examination of organisms, how they are formed, their interconnection with everything around them, their diversity, habitats, and so on. They are required to frequently research, study, conduct experiments, interpret data obtained through samples and specimens, and report or even publish them under government supervision, or any other organization. Being a biologist requires hard work, having the desired skills in calculations, computer programming, communication, and most importantly, being adept at technology and handling several different lab equipments. It has a great scope to bring about great improvements, apply the knowledge in real-life situations, and even make a major impact on the world by bringing forth ideas and innovations, and spreading awareness. as a biologist, one can focus or specialize on any one of the many classifications within the subject of biology, thereby, pursuing a career in ecology, taxonomy, physiology, genetics, etc.

Popular Career Options for Students with Biology Degree

Following are the most popular careers for students in the field of biology:

Research Assistant

A research assistant works under the supervision of a head biologist. The tasks can vary from simply taking notes and entering data to conducting numerous experiments, assisting the biologist in travel and research, and interpreting the results provided. They are also required to maintain and operate high-quality research equipment and lab instruments, be adept at computer programming and technology and keep a detailed record of all the work and research that is done.
Qualifications and Salary To be a research assistant under a biologist is equal to working as an intern, thereby, helping to gain experience in the field. A bachelor's degree in biology or a related area of study is enough to start as a research assistant. The salary for a research assistant usually starts near $40,000, but can quickly grow depending on the level of research and corporation providing employment. A research assistant position is generally for gaining experience and possibly leading to a position working at a different level within that lab or company.

Biotechnologists

Biotechnology has a role to play in every sector of scientific research, making it inevitable that the number of jobs on offer will be very high in the future. Hence, it is also a very popular course. It has a broad spectrum of applications in various fields such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, environmental sciences, animal sciences, human sciences, medical sciences, etc. It is a field where one makes use of the amalgamation of biological knowledge and processes with technology, to apply it in many different ways for the betterment of medicine, food, industry, and many such areas. A biotechnologist must be highly innovative, detail-oriented, have a good grasp of quality, collect samples based on experiments conducted on various organisms, and analyze and interpret the data received. Considered widely as the new IT, the industry is estimated to grow at a very high compounded annual rate for the next few decades. A biotechnologist has a chance of being recruited by the Government, Pharmaceutical companies, Biotechnology, and genetic engineering companies, Agricultural and crop production companies, Hospitals, Food and drinks manufacturers, and Universities.
Qualifications and Salary A master's degree or a PhD. is usually essential for this position. internships and added experience in this field are highly valuable. Depending on the experience and academic qualifications, the base annual income for a biotechnologist approximately ranges from $50,000 to more than $70,000.

Environmental Scientist

Environmental scientists focus on the areas of biology that deal with nature and the environment and strategize ways on how to preserve our world in the most effective way possible. They keep track of the environmental conditions, climate changes, nature, wildlife and their habitats, endangered species, natural resources, effects of pollution, the impact of human activities, and so on. They strive to look for new ways to protect the environment, curtail problems, restore damages, and promote sustainable development.
A majority of the time, these biologists work through the government, manufacturing companies, environmental consultancies, wildlife conservation organizations, or universities to conduct research; much of their time is spent working in the field, outdoors, completing hands-on experiments and research. An environmental scientist is responsible for assessing major environmental issues or changes and should be skilled in various aspects such as computer programming, interpreting data, completely engaging with nature, evaluate various situations, have good communication and writing skills to write up and publish articles on new findings, and make the masses aware.
Qualifications and Salary To become an environmental biologist on a preliminary level, one should hold at least a B.Sc or M.Sc degree in the field. Such students will be able to do basic research as environmental biologist research technicians. A doctorate is important to conduct academic research independently. A salary for a typical environmental scientist falls around $55,000 to $70,000 based on experience.

Biochemist and Biophysicist

This is a profession where scientists apply the knowledge of biology along with the other mainstream components of science, that is physics and chemistry, and is, therefore, a unique field. Biochemistry involves the study of cells, molecules, and other organisms, analyzing their development and interrelation with everything, and the application of the research findings to provide better medicines, foods, or drugs, and understand diseases in an advanced way. Biophysics uses the methodologies of physics in the field of biology. A biophysicist comes up with innovative perspectives to minimize or fix problems arising from a biological perspective.
Qualifications and Salary These professions require experience in labs, high academic proficiency, and probably a doctorate for a greater level of research. The base annual income of a biochemist is around $62,000 to $70,000, and for a biophysicist, it will be approximately $63,000 to $80,000.

Marine Biologist

Marine Biologists are those who specialize in marine mammalogy, ichthyology, etc, and conduct scientific research on life under the sea, oceans, estuaries, and such saltwater bodies. This involves an extensive understanding of marine organisms, their distribution, various processes, behaviors, species, abnormalities, effects of human activities, and so on. It is also their responsibility to take care of the marine animals if they are injured, restore aquatic ecosystems, detect pollutants or any new organism, accumulate various samples, and test them. Based on the research work, they may also publish research papers on new findings, and take up projects based on public awareness.
Qualifications and Salary A Bachelor's degree or masters is usually sufficient for this job. Special attention is given to those who are physically fit, are trained in swimming, boating, or scuba diving, and have first aid training as well. The job of a marine biologist can be further compartmentalized into, aquarists, ichthyologists, oceanographers, fishery biologists, or hydrologists. They may be hired to work in research laboratories under the government, the US Navy, a university, or private companies. The research work happens mostly outdoors, but it can also be executed in zoos, aquariums, laboratories, or museums. The average annual income of a marine biologist is approximately $53,000.

Other Popular Career Options

Nutritionists, an ever-growing position with today's society, focus on the preservation and well-being of the human body. They work with people to describe how the body is affected by certain things and how, in turn, the body affects its surrounding environment. The area of focus is mostly food habits and consumption, bodyweight management, hormone control, digestion, and so on. The average annual income for a nutritionist ranges from around $40,000 to $72,000, which varies with the level of experience and the location.

Other great career choices for a biology student include genetic counselor, high school teacher or professor, pharmacologist, agricultural and food scientist, doctor, scientific writer, forensic scientist, and a lot more based on the area of specialization.

Much like choosing an area of focus within biology for education, the possibilities are endless for a career choice within the field of biology. Students who have completed undergraduate and postgraduate studies, especially a doctorate, typically spend a large amount of time on research and experimentation within the specific area of focus. The skills taught within the research and experiment process falls into a broad category, qualifying the student in question for many positions even outside of the field of biology. Skills learned through experimentation and extensive research can be applied to almost any career in a general field.


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