What Is a Physiologist?

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in physiology. Read on to learn more about career options along with job duties and responsibilities, educational requirements, employment outlook and salary information. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Physiologist?

A physiologist is a biological scientist who studies how plants and animals function under both normal and abnormal conditions. They also analyze the influence and impact of human life on species, and how various specimen interact with each other. They look at things such as reproduction, movement and diseases. They use their findings to suggest breeding improvement approaches, presenting their documentation to the public and conservation entities. The following chart gives an overview of a career in physiology.

Degree Required Bachelor's
Education Field of Study Zoology and wildlife biology, ecology, biochemistry, cell biology
Key Responsibilities Study animals, determine how humans affect wildlife, publish research
Job Growth (2014-24) 4% (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)*
Median Salary (May 2015) $59,680 (for zoologists and wildlife biologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Does a Physiologist Do?

Physiologists may study whole organisms, or they may study them at the molecular and cellular levels. Many scientists in this field specialize in particular areas, including movement, photosynthesis, respiration, reproduction or growth.

Physiologists usually work in labs, conducting basic (general) or applied (problem-oriented) research on plants and animals. Sometimes, however, a physiologist might conduct research in the field if necessary, traveling to the location of his or her subject to evaluate it in its natural habitat. Many physiologists focus their research on specific plants or animals, and recent technological advances have allowed scientists to manipulate the genetics of their subjects and test under more conditions.

What Degree Do I Need to be a Physiologist?

You typically need a bachelor's or master's degree to do applied research, conduct product development or work in administrative positions in private laboratories. Academic research is generally reserved for those with Ph.D.s in the field.

Physiology programs are typically designed to help you gain a fundamental understanding of biomedical sciences and develop critical thinking, writing and research skills. You could study such areas as biochemistry, molecular genetics, techniques in cell biology, biology of the cell and human physiology. You might also learn about integrated neuroscience, molecular genetics, computational biology, bioinformatics and physiological genomics.

Doctoral programs typically emphasize original research and publication, and the degree culminates in a dissertation, which is a book-length work of research overseen by an advisory committee. Master's degree programs in the field may culminate in either a thesis or a comprehensive exam.

What is the Job Climate Like?

Human threats to wildlife, such as pollution and climate change, will cause increased needs in conservation work for zoologists and wildlife biologists in the period 2014-24, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Related careers include agricultural and food scientists, biological technicians, and conservation scientists and foresters. Agricultural and food scientists conduct research to find ways to improve food quality and distribution. Biological technicians prepare samples and equipment, and document findings to assist biological and medical scientists. Conservation scientists and foresters study ways to maintain forests, land and natural resources. Each of these fields stipulate a bachelor's degree for entry.

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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