Biology is the study of life and living organisms, including their origin, evolution, structure, function, distribution, and taxonomy. As one of the core scientific inquiries, biology expands into multifarious fields, industries, and specialization areas. Related career options include positions in research, teaching, healthcare, manufacturing, management, and engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biology major jobs will see substantial growth through 2026. Zoologists, biochemists, and medical scientists benefit from increases of 8%, 11%, and 13%, respectively. The BLS projects even greater growth for genetic counselors at 29%.
To take advantage of these robust careers in biology, students must plan well before graduation. They should start their job search by seeking assistance from faculty advisers and their university's career center. Effective planning also includes research into the biology field. This guide provides students with in-depth information on academic programs, professional development opportunities, and career options.
Skills Gained in a Biology Program
Regardless of what fields of biology students choose, the five core skills detailed in this section provide them with the tools to pursue career entry and advancement in diverse industries. Research and technical skills enable students to plan and implement projects in the laboratory and in the field. Scientific literacy and data analysis skills allow them to locate and gather accurate information. Finally, effective communication skills mean they can translate and visualize their findings for diverse audiences, including students, colleagues, and the general public.
- Analyzing Data and Results
Locating and aggregating information is the primary function of biologists, whether it is the study of nucleic acids or species-specific research. To make sense of and use information, biologists need to possess exceptional data analysis skills. Students develop these skills through laboratory training where they write reports and work with computers to model their findings.
- Communication Skills
While biologists perform daily tasks individually, they eventually need to report their findings to team members, employers, and experts in their field. Clear communication skills enable them to summarize their research orally and in written reports and proposals. These skills also allow biologists to present information through graphs and charts.
- Laboratory and Research
These skills prepare biologists to perform laboratory and field investigations. As part of their core training, biologists learn to define problems, design experiments, conduct research, and record observations. They also train to use laboratory equipment and computer simulation programs. Additionally, advanced research skills enable scientists to not only interpret results, but also predict outcomes using statistical tests.
- Scientific Literacy
Defined as the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes, this biology skill provides the foundation upon which all others depend. Scientific literacy allows students to apply knowledge through research and technical skills. These include the ability to define potential results, assess risks, inspect specimens, and catalog information using standard databases.
- Technical Expertise
Related to laboratory skills, technical expertise reflects a biologist's ability to use appropriate equipment in research. Biology majors begin their education by learning to use basic tools, such as droppers, volumetric flasks, and Bunsen burners. As their skills develop, students train with advanced equipment, including equipment specific to their subfield and specialization.
Why Pursue a Career in Biology?
As the study of living organisms, biology provides the theories and tools to understand the world and tackle its most pertinent challenges. Biology majors pursue research in such areas as evolution, natural history, environmental degradation, biomedicine, and animal and plant conservation. Furthermore, because of their adaptable skill set, biologists can work in many industries. Professionals may pursue educational roles as teachers, museum curators, and college faculty. They can occupy positions in environmental management, providing leadership and technical expertise to consulting firms and nonprofit organizations. Biologists may also work in healthcare as veterinarians, physicians, nurses, and public health specialists. A biology degree also allows graduates to pursue research-based careers with opportunities all over the world.
Job growth and salary for careers in biology are stellar. According to the BLS, healthcare careers benefit from the largest increases due to mounting global health challenges and rapidly shifting government regulations. For example, dental professionals can expect a 19% growth through 2026. Dentists also enjoy an average salary of $156,240, according to the BLS. With continuing education, certification/licensure, and professional training, biologists may advance their careers. New research and technology also provide opportunities in fields like species extinction, socioeconomics, and pharmaceutical research and sales.
How Much Do Biology Majors Make?
Like other positions, a biologist's salary varies by their level of academic training and professional experience. Associate degree holders may apply for research assistant and other supporting roles, working their way to general leadership positions with better pay within their organization. However, to access the full array of careers, professionals should earn at least a bachelor's. Healthcare, business management, and engineering provide the highest-paying biology major careers. According to Payscale, entry-level biomedical engineers earn $62,474 annually. Students who want to pursue careers in these industries should note that many require licensure and certification on top of an academic degree. Location is another contributing factor. Professionals should weigh not only possible salary, but also cost of living and related standards.
Meet a Biology Professional
Jeremy Hill Zoology Graduate from University of Michigan
Jeremy Hill graduated with a degree in Zoology from the University of Michigan and now resides in Phoenix, Arizona. Combining his love of biology and computers, he has worked with the large databases of healthcare companies to better understand trends in epidemiology and costs.
What made you decide to become a biology major?
Like a lot of biology majors, I started college convinced I wanted to be a doctor. I even applied to an advanced 7-year M.D. program and went to a school that had one of the best medical schools in the country (University of Michigan - Ann Arbor).
What skills did you learn while working toward your degree?
There were the usual skills (how to study and manage time) but there were also some skills I didn't expect - like how to plan for the possibility that your lab partner is not going to do his 50% of the write-up.
I also gained basic scientific literacy. I feel that this is sorely lacking in America in general, and it's something that is desperately needed. When one study with a sample size of 20 tells you something that flies in the face of decades of established science, ask questions. Check the underlying data and understand what it means.
Computer skills, such as how to put together a basic program if for no other reason than automation, were taught. If you have to rename 65,000 files and you opt to do it by hand, you're in for a long day.
And one of the more esoteric lessons I learned that I love to share (especially with those that aren't so keen to believe evolution) — the atoms that make up your body here and now were once locked away in the center of stars colliding over and over again. The bits and pieces that make up your right hand could come from an entirely different galaxy than your left. And once my time in this universe is over, that's exactly where they'll go back to. The sheer odds of the the exact elements of anyone's body are so astronomical, and yet here we are. Puts a bit of perspective on life. Not everything is as big a deal as it seems right away, and for other things, you have to dig to find the wonder.
How did these skills help at work?
Knowing how to plan for the unexpected or to always account for the possibility that something could go wrong has served me well professionally.
One of the things I'm asked to do as part of my job is to estimate how long something will take or when something can be finished. It's a challenge to keep things simple, but never be as precise as you want to be. You build in a bit of a buffer--even if no one admits to doing it.
Secondly, there's a generally accepted principle of economics that in order to sustain economic growth, we have to consistently improve productivity. I try to find one way to be more productive each day. Again, automation is such a lifesaver for me and others that I work with. Before any of us get up in the morning, our machines are churning out reports. If I feel like I am going to spend more than an hour or so doing a task, I stop to ask how can i make it simpler, how can I delegate it to some automatic process and how has it been done before. Those answers usually drive how I proceed.
Do you have any tips for biology students?
The biology that you learn in high school is very narrowly focused. Undergraduate work in biology encompasses so much more and there are new applications of biology every day. Don't be afraid to not only explore courses in other areas entirely, but to branch out within biology. I thought I loved microbiology until I really got interested in evolutionary genetics.
How to Become a Biologist
Earn Your Degree
While graduates can occupy entry-level positions with an associate degree, the benchmark training for the majority of biology major jobs requires a four-year degree. Bachelor's programs provide comprehensive coursework, research training, and hands-on skill development. They also enable students to cater to particular career goals through specializations. Options include molecular biology, ecology, neuroscience, zoology, and bioinformatics. Depending on what bachelor's in biology jobs students pursue, they may need to earn state licensure and/or professional certification. Nursing and forensic science are prime examples, where post-degree education is needed to earn and maintain credentials. Biologists who want to advance their careers often enroll in graduate and doctoral programs, where leadership training and independent research leads to positions as managers, directors, and university professors.
Students can earn their degree by enrolling in an ever-growing list of campus-based programs. For nontraditional students who want to juggle work and family obligations, distance education offers an accessible alternative. Online students benefit from asynchronous classes that allow them to access course materials, learn from instructors, and collaborate with peers at their convenience. Colleges and universities also provide distance learners with tuition incentives, including discount rates and prices that disregard residency status. Online biology majors still need to complete laboratory training and field work on campus or through partner facilities.
How Many Years of College Does It Take to Be a Biologist?
The time it takes to earn a biology degree depends on the academic and professional development paths a student takes. Associate programs span two years and require 60 credits. Bachelor's programs take four years, with students earning at least 120 credits. A master's degree necessitates another two years and approximately 36 credits. And a doctoral degree can last from three to seven years depending on the nature of the student's research project and dissertation. Distance learners can take advantage of flexible scheduling and prior learning assessments to complete their program in less time. Some schools offer combination degrees that enable candidates to earn their bachelor's and master's in five years. Course structure also affects degree timeline. Some colleges let students take as few or as many classes as they wish, within limits, through an individually paced format. Others require learners to engage in cohort learning, where they take one course at a time and advance at the same rate as their peers. Biology majors should note that graduate and doctoral programs often require students to possess at least two years of work experience as part of admission criteria.
Concentrations Available for Biology Majors
- Marine Biology
Defined as the study of marine organisms and their behavior, evolution, and environmental interaction, marine biology prepares students for work as researchers and conservationists. Further specializations exist within this subfield based on particular species and ecosystem. Marine scientists are also expert molecular biologists. Classes comprise coastal ecology, comparative animal physiology, and watershed assessment.
Median Salary: $51,698
This concentration involves the study of living organisms too small to see without a microscope, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Microbiologists can pursue careers as infectious disease experts and environmental scientists. They may also work in the food production, pharmaceutical, and bioengineering industries. Coursework includes microbial ecology, plant pathology, and bioinformatics.
Median Salary: $70,000
- Conservation and Ecology
This concentration helps students integrate ecological science with policy to pursue sustainability work as consultants, educators, engineers, and program directors. Students learn to apply creative problem-solving skills to the challenges faced by natural and managed ecosystems, like soil erosion and escalating waste production. Classes consist of conservation biology, plant ecology, and environmental modeling.
Median Salary: $51,173
Connected to molecular biology, genetics reflects the study of heredity and gene action. Students who pursue this concentration engage in one of the fastest-growing scientific fields. With genetic knowledge and research skills, biologists can pursue occupations in healthcare, medicine, and industrial biodiversity. The curriculum includes topics like developmental neurobiology, systems biology, and evolutionary genetics.
Median Salary: $71,000
This concentration synthesizes biology and chemistry to study the processes within and related to living organisms. Biochemistry is a laboratory-based field that focuses on molecular compositions, such as lipids, proteins, and organelles. Students learn how molecular structure relates to function. Courses include organic chemistry, immunology, and molecular virology.
Median Salary: $67,000
- Computational Biology
Sometimes referred to as bioinformatics, this concentration involves the design and development of theoretical and data-analytic methods. Computational biology trains students to use mathematical models and computer simulations to study social, behavioral, and biological systems. Computational biologists have been able to sequence the human genome and create accurate models of the brain. Classes comprise such topics as molecular genetics and partial differential equations.
Median Salary: $93,302
What Can You Do with a Biology Degree?
A student's particular degree, specialization, professional training, and work experience dictate what career opportunities they have. Those with an associate degree may take roles as lab technicians, dental hygienists, and physical therapy assistants. Bachelor of science jobs offer more variety, especially if students earn professional certification. While some entry-level careers may require a graduate degree, professionals usually earn their master's and doctorate to access leadership positions within their organizations. The most lucrative biology major jobs reside in research, healthcare, and business. Payscale reports that research scientists and physician assistants earn $77,877 and $93,767, respectively. While professionals can pursue these lines of work with an associate degree, possessing a bachelor's leads to higher pay and more opportunities overall. Management positions also provide high salaries. Operations managers receive $62,816, and clinical data managers earn $73,667. A graduate degree and at least five years professional experience are base requirements for these careers.
Associate Degree in Biology
Spanning two years, an associate degree in biology provides a foundation in the life sciences and mathematics necessary for later coursework. Students also develop general laboratory skills, like how to formulate a research question, design tests, and assess basic data. Additionally, they cultivate communication and information literacy skills. Classes include general biology, human anatomy, plant physiology, and cultural anthropology. While an associate program does not represent standard training for biologists, it does provide a good stepping stone to more advanced academics. Most students pursue their associate degree at community colleges, taking advantage of flexible course scheduling and affordable tuition.
- Veterinary Technician
Working under the supervision of veterinarians, these technicians administer medicine, prepare animals for surgery, and conduct blood and x-ray testing. They also perform daily administrative tasks, like scheduling appointments and maintaining records. This work necessitates excellent communication skills, especially in difficult situations. Veterinary technicians can work in private practices, animal shelters, and zoos.
- Biological Science Laboratory Technician
A laboratory technician's duties change based on their work setting. A professional that works in a greenhouse takes care of plant life, maintaining its health and assisting reproduction. One who works with bees monitors hive activities and conducts research on improving honey production. Regardless of employer, laboratory technicians must possess strong skills in scientific inquiry and research.
- Microbiology Laboratory Technician
These professionals work in teams, usually under the supervision of a director, to conduct project-based tests. These can include media preparation, resistance testing, and bacterial examination of fungal culture. Lab technicians must accurately record findings, analyze results, and present the information in reports. They also ensure the cleanliness of equipment and facilities.
- Medical Laboratory Technician
While these professionals can work for a variety of organizations, their main tasks generally include collecting, handling, and processing test specimens. They must adhere to laboratory standards and ensure quality control. Technicians also perform clerical duties, including writing monthly reports and maintaining specimen databases. Data analysis and computational visualization reflect core skills for this job.
- Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
These professionals conduct tests and implement strategies to improve crop yield and food quality. Agricultural technicians work in greenhouses and farms to examine soil quality and control/eliminate viruses. Food scientists oversee quality assurance, testing products for contaminant and nutrient levels. These technicians can work with government agencies, corporations, universities, and individual farmers.
Bachelor's Degree in Biology
A bachelor's degree in biology helps students develop a comprehensive understanding of biological organization, including molecules, microbes, species, and ecosystems. As one of the broadest and most popular scientific fields, biology prepares students for exciting and impactful careers in such industries as health management, genetic engineering, environmental sustainability, and disease control and prevention. A bachelor's program builds on the core elements of an associate degree plan, further emphasizing problem-based and experiential learning. Classes consist of developmental biology, field ecology, physics, and biogeography. Students can expect internship requirements and a capstone project. Most biology departments offer specializations so students can better prepare for graduate studies and career goals.
- Human Biologist
These scientists examine and analyze human functionality using skills in genetics, physiology, and biological anthropology. They can work in medical research laboratories, investigating cures for infectious diseases. Human biologists can also work as dietitians and nutritionists. With additional training, these professionals may occupy roles as human population specialists and organizational consultants.
- Marine Biologist
Marine biologists explore and research saltwater organisms and ecosystems. Using computational assessment methods, these scientists can determine changes to marine animal and plant life. They usually work to promote environmental ethics. Marine biologists can specialize in areas like disaster cleanup, conservation, and animal rehabilitation. Because they work in teams, these scientists need to possess effective communication skills.
Skilled biologists can work in pure research roles. However, most professionals pursue careers with businesses and corporations, assisting industrial efforts. They partner with engineers, coordinators, and managers to develop new products, methods, or programs. Biologists can also occupy academic roles as professors and department chairs.
- Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist
Wildlife biologists usually work for conservation efforts, studying how human development and industrial processes affect animal behavior, health, and population dynamics. They can also take on positions as compliance officers, ensuring a corporation's practices meet government regulations. Zoologists perform much of the same functions but within a managed setting. In addition to research duties, they oversee the daily care of animals.
- Molecular Biologist
Molecular biologists work in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, private companies, hospitals, and universities. Job duties fluctuate based on specific position, but these professionals generally occupy research roles. They might apply findings to improve an employer's production methods. Like scientists in every field, molecular biologists also concern themselves with research publication and conference presentation.
Master's Degree in Biology
Taking the core laboratory and research skills learned in an undergraduate program, a master's degree in biology asks students to apply their training to hands-on investigation and analysis. Graduate candidates can expect a research project and/or thesis requirement, culminating in a presentation in front of faculty and other experts. Some colleges and universities attach a teaching component to the curriculum, providing students with fellowships and opportunities to gain experience as lecturers and laboratory coordinators. Advanced course topics include cellular biology, forensic anthropology, and mathematical modeling. Graduate students benefit from diverse specializations. A master's in biomedical engineering prepares graduates for work in design and manufacturing. With a master's in biotechnology, they can become crime analysts and pharmaceutical consultants.
- Research Scientist
A research scientist's primary duties involve gathering, analyzing, and organizing information. They engage in peer review and publication of articles and monographs. These scientists usually work in academic and research institutions, but may also find employment in applied fields, including private companies. Here they work with other professionals to develop new products and technologies.
- Biomedical Engineer
Biomedical engineers design and develop new ways to treat injuries and illnesses. They also conduct tests on product effectiveness and safety. Medicine is a vast field, so engineers can specialize in areas like surgery equipment, medication, and rehabilitation. Depending on their position, biomedical engineers may need to possess marketing and sales knowledge.
- Genetic Counselor
Genetic counselors work directly with patients, usually in medical facilities. They diagnose and assist in the treatment of congenital diseases. Genetic counselors can also work with pregnant women, identifying possible birth defects and maintaining patient health through the birthing process. In addition to a master's degree, these professionals hold certification from organizations like the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
- Senior Environmental Consultant
These environmentalists work with nonprofits, government agencies, and in the private sector. Though their duties depend on specific roles, environmental consultants primarily predict and evaluate environmental impact caused by human endeavors. They also assist with remediation and sustainability efforts. Senior officials occupy leadership roles, managing teams and coordinating research projects.
- Associate Director, Biology
Associate directors oversee research teams and projects. If they work in an academic setting, they also manage the biology department's faculty training and grant acquisitions. If they work with private companies, they may need to apply research findings for commercialization. True to any management position, associate directors must possess exceptional administrative and financial skills.
Doctoral Degree in Biology
Due to the significant time and money investment, few students pursue a doctoral degree in biology as a sequential part of their academic training. Furthermore, many doctoral programs require candidates to possess work and advanced research experience as part of admission criteria. Biologists typically earn terminal degrees so they can advance mid-level careers, obtaining work as tenured professors, head research scientists, or senior consultants.
Doctoral biology programs center on self-motivated work. Students spend their first two to three years taking specialized coursework, writing proposals, and gathering funding for research. They then spend the remainder of their degree work conducting tests, analyzing data, and preparing the information for defense, publication, and oral examination. Like graduate candidates, doctoral students also benefit from fellowships where they get paid experience as lecturers and undergraduate coordinators. Specializations are available in such areas as computational biology, molecular biology, and conservation ecology. Outside the general Ph.D., biology students can earn doctor of medicine and doctor of engineering credentials.
- Postdoctoral Research Associate
These associates occupy administrative and laboratory support roles. Working under tenured professors and other primary investigators, they assist with experiments and information analysis. They also guide lab technicians and graduate students. Additionally, research assistants write reports, manage documents, and ensure facility cleanliness. Data interpretation and visualization represent core skills for this career.
- Senior Research Scientist, Biotechnology
Biotechnology affects academia, engineering, and manufacturing. Senior research scientists can work as educators and consultants, helping audiences understand the theoretical and technical concepts in their field. They may also pursue industrial development careers, creating new products and ensuring their effectiveness for distribution. Because they work in teams, these professionals need to collaborate and communicate effectively.
- Subject Analyst
Subject analysts manage a company or organization's information, including its data, statistics, history, and consumer/stakeholder trends. These professionals usually work in teams, where they provide data-analytical support and clearly explain complex technical ideas to advance project goals. Analysts skillfully use computer programs to index and report information.
- Principal Scientist
As leaders of research teams, principal scientists oversee project design, laboratory testing, and data analysis and application. In addition to a firm grasp of scientific inquiry, these scientists must possess strong communication skills to motivate employees and present findings. Principal scientists who work in commercial manufacturing or another private sector use their skills to create and improve products.
- Professor, Postsecondary Education
College professors teach students through lectures, seminars, and laboratory sessions. They also assist students with research projects and theses/dissertations. Besides rigorous academic training, biology professors cultivate expertise through their own research and publication. These professionals can also work for organizations as field experts, research leads, and consultants.
Unexpected Careers for Biology Majors
Because much of a biology student's training consists of project design, laboratory testing, and data analysis, research science seems like the obvious career choice. However, biology majors can also pursue other professional opportunities, like the five presented in this section.
By applying their knowledge of human physiology and biochemistry, students can pursue careers as nutritionists and fitness trainers. Here, they work with individual clients, promoting healthy living and helping them recover from injury and illness. With specialized training through certificate programs, biology majors may also work as dental hygienists, estheticians, and radiologic technologists. Some students prefer these practical careers because they do not require extensive higher education. With an associate degree, graduates can access entry-level positions with plenty of room for advancement. Professionals may also take advantage of biology major careers outside of business, engineering, and applied sciences. Medical writers, illustrators, and video game developers represent a few of these unconventional opportunities.
- Fitness Trainer
Fitness trainers help their clients lose weight, gain strength, and rehabilitate from illness and injury. They assess the client's condition, including their general measurements and biochemical compositions. In addition to assisting clients through workout routines, personal trainers provide meal plans and other consultations. Marketing and financial management skills are also necessary to ensure a robust client base.
- Nutritionist or Dietician
These professionals help clients develop healthy eating behaviors for the purposes of weight loss and abiding medical conditions. Nutritionists and dieticians can also find employment with schools, hospitals, and government agencies. Here, they develop meal plans and health programs to improve the lives of communities.
- Scientific Illustrator
Using the knowledge of physiology, genetics, and other biological fields, scientific illustrators visualize anatomy, molecular structures, and environmental processes. They may work in academia, illustrating for textbooks and other educational materials. Or they can pursue careers in forensic imaging and graphic design. Possible employers include hospitals, specialty publishers, and film studios.
- Medical Writer
Depending on their specific position, medical writers create training materials, user manuals, and educational literature. Because most of their work involves research and presentation, these professionals need clear communication skills and in-depth knowledge of the biological and medical fields. Writers can find work with health organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and equipment manufacturers.
- Dental Hygienist
Dental hygienists assess patient conditions, looking for signs of oral disease. They also perform general procedures, including cleaning stains and removing plaque build-up. Additionally, dental hygienists occupy educational roles, providing consultation on preventative and post-surgery care. Minimum requirements include professional accreditation and state licensure.
Where Can I Work as a Biologist?
The career opportunities afforded to biologists largely depend on industry and setting. According to the BLS, top employers for biological technicians consist of pharmaceutical companies, higher education institutions, and scientific consultancies. Healthcare is another field where biology majors flourish; hospitals and community health centers boast ample career opportunities. Because biology spans so many scientific studies, location and research populations also affect job prospects. While urban centers continue to offer high employment numbers, growing rural health and research initiatives mean that biologists can find worthwhile options in these areas as well.
Location not only dictates what jobs are available to biologists but also how they pursue career entry and advancement. Depending on their particular field, biologists need to earn state licensure, a process that includes post-degree training and examination. Furthermore, most professional licenses do not seamlessly transfer across state lines, so biologists who want to move must seek relicensure. Professionals also need to consider salary potential, which largely varies by employer. Private companies tend to offer higher pay to biologists willing to work in high-need sectors and developing areas, including remote international locations. Finally, quality of life should factor into career decisions, such as housing cost and family safety concerns.
Life, Physical, and Social Science Occupations Employment and Salary by State
This industry offers opportunities in higher education, where biologists can work as researchers and professors. Professionals may also occupy public health and community engagement roles, helping promote disease prevention and sustainability initiatives.
Average Salary: $55,000
- Biotechnology Research and Development
Biotechnology provides the tools to improve human and environmental health. Biologists can work in sustainable agriculture, medicine, and food science. They may also pursue industrial careers as designers and engineers.
Average Salary: $79,000
- Pharmaceutical Manufacturing
Related to biotechnology, this industry centers on developing and evaluating medications and related products. Biologists generally work as pharmaceutical researchers. Or they can take on compliance roles, making sure their company meets government standards.
Average Salary: $81,000
- Information Technology (IT) Services
With a degree in bioinformatics or a related field, professionals can pursue work in the IT industry. Here, biologists apply communication, data analytics, and database management skills to organize and protect their organization's information.
Average Salary: $77,000
- Medical Device Manufacturing
Biologists in this industry work as researchers, engineers, project coordinators, and managers. They also occupy legal roles, ensuring their company's products meet safety standards, government regulations, and import/export laws.
Average Salary: $79,000
As one of the fastest growing industries, healthcare provides career opportunities in medical treatment, education, nonprofit advocacy, and government policy. Biologists can also work in healthcare analytics and informatics, managing patient information.
Average Salary: $82,974
Biologists typically pursue hospital careers as nurses, physicians, equipment operators, and other medical specialists. However, they can also work as administrators and directors, ensuring facilities and treatment programs run efficiently.
Average Salary: $71,000
How Do You Find a Job as a Biologist?
Job seekers in all fields benefit from effective planning, which involves starting career searches early. Employer statistics vary, but biologists can count on job growth in such industries as healthcare, education, administrative leadership, and engineering, according to BLS projections. For example, biochemist, medical scientist, and petroleum technician positions stand to grow 11%, 13%, and 16%, respectively.
To obtain careers with a biology degree, candidates need to craft a persuasive resume. Careful usage of action verbs, adjectives, and verifiable statistics let biologists frame their professional experiences as accomplishments rather than mundane tasks. Job seekers must also learn to apply industry-specific keywords to accommodate applicant tracking systems. Interviews provide biologists the opportunity to elaborate on how their knowledge, skills, and experiences align with the employer's business philosophy. In-depth research lets applicants understand a company's main competitors and current goals and programs. Because the field prioritizes research, biologists need to make sure their work gets recognized through publication and conference participation. Professional organizations provide networking and continuing education opportunities.These include the Biology Teachers Network and the American Society of Human Genetics.
Professional Resources for Biology Majors
- American Institute of Biological Sciences: Established as part of the National Academy of Sciences in 1947, AIBS boasts over 250,000 members. The institute oversees peer review standards and helps members with publication. AIBS also operates a vast online library of research articles, findings, and literature. Additionally, members benefit from networking opportunities, education programs, awards, and career guidance, including job listings.
- Ecological Society of America: For over 100 years, the ESA has advanced ecological knowledge and global sustainability through research, policy, and diversity initiatives. Members can take advantage of educational resources, certification guidance, and frequent professional gatherings. They also enjoy academic scholarships, research grants, and a job board. ESA houses a vast online library, including articles and reports on topics like capacity building and biological infrastructure.
- Society for Conservation Biology: In addition to advocating for the conservation of biological diversity, the SCB offers its members networking opportunities through global meetings and regional/local gatherings. Membership also comes with career perks, including training programs and job listings. Biology students can access educational resources, fellowship opportunities, and scholarships. SCB works to change government and industry policy worldwide.
- American Association for the Advancement of Science: With members in 91 countries, the AAAS supports students and professionals in the fields of mathematics, engineering, technology, and science. The association is a staunch advocate for education and civic engagement, facilitating global outreach programs and conducting research. Members access career listings, communication workshops, and four fellowship programs. AAAS also provides student internships.
- American Academy of Underwater Sciences: Focused on the training and safety of scientific divers and research teams, the AAUS conducts research to improve industry best practices. The organization also operates a comprehensive research library. Additionally, AAUS offers professional certification programs for marine biologists, oceanographers, and related professionals. Students enjoy internship opportunities and financial assistance, including academic scholarships and research grants.
- International Society for Computational Biology: Founded in 1997, the ISCB boasts 3,200 members and supports them through leadership training and research on bioinformatics tools and best practices. Professional members also benefit from networking opportunities, webinars, and curriculum materials. Additionally, the society facilitates student competitions and fellowship programs. The ISCB Career Center offers job listings and professional development guidance.
- American Society for Microbiology: As the largest life science professional organization, the ASM consists of over 50,000 scientists and health professionals. The society advocates for its members through public policy initiatives and research publications. Education represents another cornerstone; students and teachers benefit from webinars, laboratory case studies, and classroom materials. Additional resources include professional development programs, job listings, and volunteer opportunities.
- Genetics Society of America: Created in 1931, the GSA offers members leadership and peer review training programs. The organization also helps professionals with research development tools and publication assistance. Members enjoy awards, grants, and networking opportunities, including annual conferences and topical meetings. GSA facilitates a career center that comprises mentoring programs, job search assistance, and student-specific resources.
- American Medical Association: The AMA works to enhance the delivery and accessibility of medical care through research, policy, and educational programs. Members benefit from a vast online community that enables them to share knowledge, collaborate research, and find professional opportunities. They also have access to career planning tools, financial management support, and a residency and fellowship database.
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: Founded in 1906, the ASBMB supports members worldwide, including leading experts and Nobel Prize winners. Membership allows access to extensive research publications, global meetings, and professional development opportunities, such as mentorship and grant-writing workshops. ASBMB also offers career resources, including job listings, travel awards, and student summer research programs.