Evolutionary Biology

Evolutionary biology is the study of how species of living organisms originated, morphed and developed over time. Learn about related career options, salary information, degree program requirements and course topics.

Is Evolutionary Biology for Me?

Career Summary

As plants, animals and humans evolve, they adapt to their changing circumstances. Evolutionary biology is a subfield of biological science that examines these adaptations. If you want to work as an evolutionary biologist, you'll need to have strong science and analytical skills.

Employment Options

As an evolutionary biologist, you can choose a career that places you most often in your favorite location: the classroom, the lab or in the field doing research. An evolutionary biology degree can prepare you for many careers in biology. Entry-level biology jobs include research assistant, field-work assistant and research team member. With more experience, you may be able to seek managerial positions. You could also focus on teaching evolutionary biology at the secondary or postsecondary level. Finally, you could go into the field of conservation biology and focus your efforts on education and research in conservation and sustainability or become a zoologist and work with animals.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2012, the median wage for wildlife biologists and zoologists was $57,710 (www.bls.gov). Other types of biological scientists earned $72,700 in that same year. Jobs for wildlife biologists and zoologists were expected to grow by 5% from 2012 to 2022, a rate considered slower than the average by the BLS.

Secondary school teachers, such as high school biology teachers, made a median of $55,050 annually. The median wage for postsecondary biology teachers was $74,180. These fields are projected by the BLS to show employment growth of 6% and 19%, respectively, between 2012 and 2022.

How Can I Become an Evolutionary Biologist?

Education Programs

Evolutionary biology degree programs are available at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Courses include genetics, human behavior, genomics, population biology and mutation. Evolutionary biology programs can be found in biology and zoology departments, and many of these degree programs are combined with ecology degree programs.

Graduate Studies

You may choose to enroll in a master's degree program focused on the principles of evolution. You can subsequently move on to a Ph.D. program, which involves intensive research and field study. Some universities have field stations available for your research, or you can conduct your research at a zoo. Most postsecondary teachers employed by universities have a Ph.D. and often some post-doctoral research experience.

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