What Are Popular Careers in Biology?

Biology is the study of life and living systems, and careers in biology pertain to all aspects of human life, animal life and nature. This article explores some popular careers in biology; continue reading for more details. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Biology Career Fields

The biology field is so large that the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California - Los Angeles has a listing of 580 possible biology-related careers. They range alphabetically from acarologist (one who studies mites) to zoo veterinarian. Because biology is so broad, it is split into many subfields, like evolutionary biology, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, ecology, marine biology, wildlife biology and botany. Within all of these subfields, jobs are available in research, education and conservation.

With a bachelor's degree in biology, you can get an entry-level job, like as a research assistant, laboratory technician or high school teacher (if you complete a teacher training program). A graduate degree is generally necessary if you want to move into supervisory positions, and PhD degree-holders usually lead independent research teams and hold academic teaching jobs. Continue reading for more details about a few popular careers:

Important Facts About Popular Careers in Biology

Biological Technician Microbiologist Wildlife Biologist
Median Annual Salary (2014) $41,290 $67,790 $58,270
Key Skills Analytical and critical thinking; observation; clear communication; technically ability Attention to detail; logical thinking; problem solving; strong mathematical foundation Critical thinking; problem solving; wilderness survival; observation
Work Environment Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences; colleges, universities, and professional schools; federal government Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing; federal and state government; research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences State and federal government; management, scientific, and technical consulting services; colleges, universities, and professional schools
Similar Occupations Environmental science and protection technicians; geoscientists; forensic science technicians Natural sciences managers; physicians and surgeons; chemical technicians Conservation scientists and foresters; animal care and service workers; environmental scientists and specialists

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Biological Technician

Biological technicians usually hold a bachelor's degree. They work in laboratories setting up, carrying out, analyzing and writing about experiments under the supervision of biologists. With years of work experience and/or an advanced degree, they may advance to higher-level positions, like microbiologist. Average job growth of 5% is predicted for the 2014-2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and job competition is likely to be strong.

Microbiologist

Microbiologists focus on studying algae, bacteria, viruses and other microscopic organisms. Within microbiology, you can focus on immunology, bacteriology, mycology or clinical microbiology. Microbiologists commonly work in laboratories performing basic or applied research; for example, they may study how algae can be used to make biofuel, what types of bacteria can improve plant growth or methods for developing new vaccines or biological drugs. Though some entry-level jobs can be obtained with a bachelor's degree, a PhD is necessary for most research jobs. According to the BLS, a 4% increase in employment of microbiologists is expected between 2014 and 2024, and competition for research funding should be strong.

Wildlife Biologist

You can become a wildlife biologist with a bachelor's degree, but you might need a master's degree for advancement and a doctoral degree to lead a research team. Wildlife biologists often work in the field, observing animals in their natural settings and collecting data on animal populations. They may also study animals in laboratories or other controlled settings. As a wildlife biologist, you often conduct research to understand the effects of humans on animal populations, like how pollution, invasive species or loss of habitat affect the lifestyle of a certain animal species. Although slower than average growth of 4% is forecast for 2014-2024, opportunities are expected to be fiercely competitive, per the BLS.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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