Biology, the science of life, involves studying the function, growth, and structure of living organisms. It is a diverse field that includes the study of animals, plants, bacteria, fungi, and other organisms. Biology is also concerned with cells, genes, medicine, and the environment. Jobs you can get with a biology degree are no less diverse.
Because biology is such a diverse field, it attracts many college students. In fact, according to collegestats.org, biology was the most popular college major in 2011. As biology students complete their coursework, they likely ponder a question that crosses every college student’s mind from time-to-time: what job can I get with a biology degree?
The answer to that question is not simple, because there are numerous jobs for which biology graduates are qualified.
Research Careers for Biology Graduates
Those who graduate with bachelor’s degrees in biology are often qualified for entry-level research assistant positions at hospitals, universities, laboratories, and research firms. Research assistants operate laboratory equipment, conduct and observe experiments, and record experimental data. Research assistants who have biology degrees may work in medical or environmental research. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median hourly wage for biological research assistants is $18.46, which is the equivalent of $38,397 a year for individuals who work full-time.
Though biology graduates can find research employment with solely a bachelor’s degree, better jobs are available to those who obtain a graduate degree, such as a master’s or PhD in biology. As technology rapidly improves, the field of scientific research is growing, and individuals with advanced degrees in biology can find work as research scientists. With an advanced biology degree, you can get a job as a biological research scientist. They conduct research, either independently or as part of a team, and they use the knowledge acquired from their research to develop medicine, diagnostic tools, and other products. Biological research scientists also study diseases, animals, and genes. The BLS has indicated that the median annual salary for workers in this field ranges from $55,290 to $82,840, depending on their area of expertise.
Individuals with bachelor’s degrees in biology are qualified to work for the government as environmental specialists. Environmental specialists protect citizens from environmental hazards such as pollution, and they strive to conserve the environment and the resources it provides. They ensure that food and water are safe, and they help individuals and organizations understand and comply with environmental protection laws. Environmental scientists may also develop new policy regarding environmental protection and conduct research concerning ways to reduce pollution and waste.
Job prospects for environmental specialists are excellent. The BLS expects the field to grow by 28 percent through 2018, and it has reported that the median yearly salary for environmental specialists is $59,750.
Biology Graduates in Pharmaceutical Sales Careers
Because of their strong science background and their understanding of medicine and the human body, biology graduates with bachelor’s degrees are qualified to work as pharmaceutical sales representatives. Individuals who work in this field represent pharmaceutical companies, and they make presentations at hospitals, doctor’s offices, conferences, and universities. Their main objectives are to market the pharmaceutical products their companies sell and to persuade medical professionals to use their products.
Jobs in pharmaceutical sales are often fast-paced, and individuals who work in the field typically earn commission. Salaries can vary based on performance, but according to salary.com, the median annual salary for pharmaceutical sales representatives is $60,189.
Teaching Jobs for Biology Graduates
Biology graduates who seek advanced degrees are qualified to teach biology courses at colleges and universities. Community colleges will hire instructors who have master’s degrees, but most four-year colleges require instructors to have a doctoral degree. Biology instructors often give lectures and guide students in laboratory settings.
In addition to teaching, writing tests, and grading assignments, college instructors often conduct research. So, much like research scientists, biology instructors may perform research at their universities. According to the BLS, college instructors earn $58,830 a year, on average.
Individuals with bachelor’s degrees in biology are qualified to work as animal trainers. They may be employed at zoos, kennels, pet stores, rescue centers, laboratories, veterinary clinics, stables, farms, or aquariums.
According to the BLS, animal trainers earn, on average, only $27,270 a year. Though this salary is relatively low, animal trainers often enjoy their jobs, as their work is rewarding. They may train animals to educate the public, participate in veterinary exams which reduces their stress when medical care is necessary, or they may train service animals to work with individuals who have disabilities. Animal trainers can also train animals for riding and for competing in events.
Medical Careers for Biology Graduates
A bachelor’s degree in biology provides excellent preparation for advanced study in a medical field. For example, biology coursework may be useful for students who wish to become doctors, physical therapists, or pharmacists. Though all of these jobs typically require at least four years of post-bachelor’s study, they provide excellent pay.
According to the BLS, doctors who work in family practice enjoy annual earnings of $186,044, on average. Physical therapists and pharmacists also benefit from hefty annual salaries of $72,790 and $106,410, respectively.
Though most medical jobs require advanced study, biology graduates there are many jobs you can get with solely a bachelor’s degree in biology. With a degree in biology, jobs will be plentiful. Individuals with biology degrees work as research assistants, environmental specialists, pharmaceutical sales representatives, or animal trainers. Those who are willing to complete advanced degrees can enjoy lucrative careers as research scientists, college instructors, or medical professionals. Whatever path biology graduates choose to pursue, they are sure to develop rewarding careers.