Biological Scientist Education Requirements

If you aspire to apply your passion for biology and scientific research into your future profession, a career as a biological scientist may be the perfect fit for you. Read on to learn about the education requirements and career options in the field. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career at a Glance

A career as a biological scientist provides a large number of specialties and employment opportunities. Biological scientists work in many different settings, from spending long hours on an ocean as a marine biologist, to researching microbes in a laboratory as a microbiologist. Read the table below to discover some of the key details in pursuing a career in the biological sciences.

Biochemists and Biophysicists Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists Microbiologists
Degree Typically Required PhD Bachelors Bachelors
Education Field of Study Biology
Chemistry
Biochemistry
Physics
Engineering
Zoology
Wildlife Biology
Ecology
Microbiology
Biochemistry
Cell Biology
Key Responsibilities Design and conduct research projects in biological processes, analyze data, write research papers, develop programs Design and conduct experiments with animals, analyze data, write research papers, develop conservation plans Design and conduct experiments related to illnesses, isolate and maintain bacteria cultures, analyze data, write research papers
Key Skills Analytical, perseverance, detail-oriented, critical thinking, problem solving Communication, observation, critical thinking, interpersonal, outdoor skills Perseverance, math, critical thinking, problem solving, detail-oriented
Median Salary (2017) $91,190* $62,290* $69,960*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 11%* 8%* 8%*

Source: * U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is a Biological Scientist?

Biological scientists research the living world around us, such as plants, animals and microbes to gain scientific knowledge and improve overall human health. Biological scientists use a range of sophisticated tools and equipment to carry out research and typically publish results in scientific papers. Most biological scientists work in a laboratory setting, but some work in the field, such as zoologists and wildlife biologists.

What Do I Need to Study to Become a Biological Scientist?

Generally, most people pursuing careers as biological scientists first study biology, microbiology or biochemistry as a 4-year undergraduate program which teaches the latest techniques used in cellular and molecular biology. Courses such as zoology, wildlife biology and ecology are typically geared at those developing a career in the research of animals and ecosystems. Gaining experience through internships, research jobs and volunteer work is also important for future employability for many research scientist positions.

Do I Need a Masters or PhD to Work as a Biological Scientist?

People with an undergraduate degree in the biological sciences are often able to gain employment in entry-level positions. Biological science graduates can then continue university education to pursue a masters or PhD program. In order to manage a lab or carry out high-level research, a master's degree will sometimes be enough. However, a PhD is typically necessary to be employed in a university research position or to head a lab.

What Career Options Do I Have as Biological Scientist?

Biological science is a broad field and graduates from these programs often specialize in a type of organism or method that focuses on the use of living things. Specializations that are typically open for biological scientists are microbiology, wildlife biology, ecology and biochemistry. The main areas of work are in the environmental, industrial, legal, medical, pharmaceutical, research, safety and educational sectors.

How Much Do Biological Scientists Earn Annually?

According to the BLS, biological scientists who aren't listed individually earned a median salary of $76,690 in 2017. However the pay differs between specializations. The BLS reported that those specializing in zoology and wildlife biology earned $62,290, microbiologists earned $69,960 and biochemists and biophysicists earned $91,190, median.

The job outlook for biological scientists is promising, with growth expected from 2016 to 2026. The BLS has estimated that biochemists and biophysicists can expect faster than average growth of 11%, while zoologists/wildlife biologists and microbiologists can expect 8% growth, which is average for all occupations.

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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