Five Career Options for Biology Majors
I’m pretty sure half of my class in middle school swore that they would become marine biologists. While most changed their minds, a few realized that a biology major was rather interesting, even if they didn’t keep their marine biologist aspirations.
But what else can you do with a biology major? What entry level jobs are available when you study biological science?
This list answers those questions for you, and includes some of the most popular and well-paying jobs for biology majors.
Biochemists and Biophysicists ($93,280 per year)
Biochemists research the nitty gritty details about living organisms and their biological processes, including cell development, heredity, and disease. This is the only job on this list that requires education beyond a bachelor’s degree for even an entry-level job, but a bachelor’s degree in biology will set you on the right path if this is the career you want.
As a biochemist, you plan complex research projects, manage lab teams, prepare literature reviews and technical reports, present your research findings, and analyze proteins, fats, DNA, and other molecules. You can work in basic research (research for the sake of knowledge) or applied research (research for solving a specific problem).
Most biochemists and biophysicists work in laboratories to conduct their research. The most prominent employers include college and universities, as well as pharmaceutical companies. You should expect to work regular hours, but you may have to adjust your hours when conducting time-sensitive experiments.
Microbiologists ($71,650 per year)
Microbiologists study organisms like bacteria, viruses, algae, and fungi.
Being a microbiologist revolves around research, so expect to do a lot of it. On any given day, you might identify and research lab cultures, prepare literature reviews and read up on the latest research, or plan large and complex research projects.
Microbiologists often work with scientists in other fields, so be prepared for your research to be as single-focused or as interdisciplinary as you’d like. However, many microbiologists specialize. Some options for specialization include becoming a bacteriologist, a parasitologist, or a public health microbiologist, although there are other specialization paths available.
While hours are regular and usually full-time, microbiologists who enter academia may face additional pressure from navigating the complex and competitive grant application process.
Agricultural and Food Scientists ($64,020 per year)
As an agricultural or food scientist, you’ll make sure that our food is safe to eat and efficient to produce.
You do this by designing and conducting experiments for crops and farm animals, as well as working to create new food products and improving the processes behind packaging and delivering them. You can also choose to specialize. The most popular specializations include: animal scientist, food technologist, plant scientist, or soil scientist.
This is a job that will allow you autonomy, as agricultural and food scientists work with little supervision. Due to this, there’s a higher chance you’ll be able to design your own experiments and hypotheses.
With this job, you’ll work full-time in a lab, a factory, an office, or the field. You should be open to traveling, but the amount of travel you’ll do depends on your specific job.
Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists ($63,420 per year)
Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and how they act within certain ecosystems.
This is probably the job everyone was wanted in middle school. As a zoologist or wildlife biologist, you design and conduct experiments related to animals, study the characteristics and habits of animals, analyze human influence on animal habitats, write research papers, and develop conservation plans.
You’ll be expected to choose to study either vertebrates or invertebrates, and then to specialize from there. Zoologists and wildlife biologists work in an office, a lab, or the outdoors, and you’ll most likely be employed by a state or local government.
Since you’ll be working with wild animals and spending significant time outdoors, you should be careful of animal injuries and inclement weather. Working with nocturnal animals means that you may have to adjust by working irregular hours. Fieldwork can also be physically demanding, so make sure that you’re in tip-top shape when you apply.
Conservation Scientists and Foresters ($61,340 per year)
As a conservation scientist or forester, you’re responsible for making sure that our forests and parks are healthy and last long enough for our grandchildren to enjoy. More specifically, you make sure that everyone involved with the forest adheres to government regulations and come up with plans for managing forests and resources.
Ultimately, you’re the go-between for landowners, farmers, governments, and other parties.
Most foresters and conservation scientists work for the government. Prepare to work in places as diverse as offices, labs, or the outdoors. For foresters working primarily outdoors, the job can be physically demanding and comes with the risk of insect bites, poisonous plants, forest fires, and other dangers.
Despite the dangers and the expectation of working outdoors, you can expect work full-time, fairly regular hours.
Biological Technicians ($44,500 per year)
The role of a biological technician is similar to that of a lab assistant.
As an assistant, you are under the direct supervision of a biologist, who double-checks your work. Expect to spend a lot of time in the lab maintaining a clean and safe laboratory, prepping for experiments, conducting experiments, analyzing your results, and writing about what you discovered.
As far as specific fields, the world is your oyster. However, you’ll probably work for a company that specializes in research and development in life sciences, or in a lab at a college or university. You should expect to work full-time and keep regular hours.
While your biology degree is an important step in securing this job, you should also get practical lab experience under your belt, either through a part-time job or internship.
These jobs are just a few of the ones available to those majoring in biology. If you’re passionate about a career in biology, let this list serve as a starting point to finding a career you love.
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