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Why Earn a Biology Degree?
A degree in biology prepares an individual with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate as a scientist, particularly in the study of life. Biology is one of the basic sciences, and it studies life, from the smallest organism to the largest. Through cross-discipline study individuals will learn about how organisms operate, as well as study the various organs and chemical reactions responsible for giving life and maintaining it.
Degrees in biology begin start at the associate level all the way through the doctoral level. Independent research positions typically require an individual to have a PhD. A curriculum in biology may include:
- Calculus & Statistics
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology
- Organic Chemistry
How to Become a Biologist
To successfully prepare for a fruitful career in biology, you will need to start pursuing a career in earnest while you are in high school by taking all the required math, science, chemistry, and biology courses. You will also need to follow a series of steps to logically progress from where you are today to being employed in a desired capacity as a biologist. The steps outlining the process include:
Step 1 – Research Schools
The first step in your journey to becoming a biologist is to research top accredited colleges and universities that fit your professional goals and objectives. To prudently research programs and schools, you can leverage the information found on this resource page or leverage our proprietary matching portal. Following which, we recommend you read The Complete Guide to the College Admissions Process and How to Reduce the Cost of College.
After spending the time to create your personal priority list and digesting our valuable college resources, simply request information from schools that make sense for you. By learning more about schools of interest, you can winnow your list down to a short list of top college programs that offer biology.
Step 2 – Apply to College
The next step in the process is to invest the time to apply to colleges offering biology programs. Take the time to understand each school’s curricular approach, expectations, curriculum requirements, financial aid packages, and online learning options.
As an important note: online learning or distance learning has quickly become the fastest growing segment within higher education for many reasons. The benefits of earning a biology degree online may include the inherent: flexibility, cost savings, access, accreditation, pace, and quality programming.
Step 3 – Attend School
Once you have gained admissions to the college or university of your choice, you will need to complete orientation and register for classes in biology. A bachelor’s degree in biology will typically take students four years of full time work to complete.
Alternatively, a master’s degrees will take an additional 2-3 years while a PhD will take an additional five to six years of matriculation including a dissertation project. During your undergraduate work in biology, focus on building relevant, transferable skills and invest substantive time in valuable research projects as often as possible.
Step 4 – Graduation, Work, Grow
Upon graduating from an accredited college or university with your degree in biology, you will be eligible apply for jobs in a variety of related fields. Whether you elect to choose to enter the field as a microbiologist, biological scientist, or molecular biologist we highly recommend you focus on being a lifelong learner to grow in your field in perpetuity. Attending workshops, conventions, taking college courses, and continuing education courses will help you grow and advance in your desired field.
Employment & Popular Biology Jobs
A career in biology typically requires at least a bachelor's degree. Entry level positions will find biologists working in laboratory settings as assistants. Higher level positions require higher level degrees. The areas of study covered by biology are many, and as education levels increase the biologists tend to specialize.
Many will enter microbiology, biochemistry, or biophysics related fields through study. Research positions will typically involve finding applicable technologies or medicines through biological study and research to assist in the curing of disease or produce medications. Environmental biologists will study the effects of encroachment or other factors on the environment, and how to reduce or reverse such effects.
The need for qualified biological scientists is expected to increase of the next decade as the demand for technological and medical breakthroughs rise due to the aging population and the interest in wildlife and environmental preservation increases. Career opportunities will be competitive as the most talented and accomplished graduates will fill positions as they open.
The average salary for a biologist is $74,960 per year, with researchers earning much higher salaries. Combining a specialized trade with a growing sector and above average pay appears to be a winning recipe for future success. Of surveyed biologists, 32% currently hold a bachelor's degree in biology while 57% have a master's degree. The remaining biologists surveyed have a post-baccalaureate certificate in addition to a bachelor's degree in a related biology field.
Top Careers in Biology
There are a wide range of career paths that a biologist can follow after earning a degree from an accredited college or university. We have listed out a few common examples below to help you visualize the variations that exist in the field of biology. Career paths in biology can include tracks in:
Environmental Conservation & Management: Biologists passionate about the environment can find themselves working for a variety of organizations in a number of capacities. In fact, it is not uncommon for a biologist to become a marine biologist, park ranger, zoologist, or wildlife biologist.
Health Care: Biologists working in the health care industry may be placed in charge of increasing public awareness of a contagion or researching how to eradicate a specific disease. Positions such as these will often require a graduate degree where additional research, knowledge, and skills will come to fruition within the nexus of health care.
Education: Biologists working in the education field may work for a college, high school, museum, conservatory, aquariums, park, ab setting, nature center, or in the field collecting data.
Research Biology: Research biologists utilize the latest research methods and cutting-edge tools and techniques to gather relevant data about an area of research. Empirical data can be gathering in a lab or in the natural environment, albeit domestic or international locations.
Forensics: A biology major interested in forensics could launch a career as a forensic biotechnician, medical examiner, forensic pathologist, crime scene investigator, forensic anthropologist, criminalist, crime lab analyst, forensic toxicologist, forensic scientist, forensic psychologist, forensic document examiner, forensic psychiatrist, or forensic computer examiner.
Journalism & Graphic Design: Jobs are required to correctly illustrate biology textbooks, websites, journals, and magazines. As a result, publishers and media outlets seek out biology majors to add credibility and depth to projects or departments within their organization.
Biotechnology: Biotechnologists extend learning in a field or work to improve existing products on the market within specialties such as agriculture, medicine, genetics, nanoparticles, cell biology, molecular biology, pharmacy, and food science.
Politics: Political biologists are called upon to consult with legislators and private industry for topics such as environmental protection, environmental law, and various related biology issues.
Math: Mathematical biology is a newer field of study built upon deep analytics and advanced computer models for use in complex research projects in field such as biotechnology, genetics, and cell biology.
Business & Economics: Biologists with a business concentration may find employment opportunities with large multinational corporations such as pharmaceutical manufacturers as they are able to provide deep insights to provide helpful research and lend credibility to the marketing and public relations teams in a company.
How Much Do Biologists Make?
The median annual income for a biologist will vary depending on your area of specialty, geographic location, job duties, hours worked, organization type, and work experience. Below we have gathered averages of associated careers in biology to help you understand the income ranges by occupation type.
Biochemist: The annual median income for a biochemist is $82,180 with an 8% growth rate expected over the coming decade with some 11,900 job openings projected.
College Biology Teacher: Median income for a post-secondary biology teacher is $76,650 with a 14% growth rate projection equating to 21,800 job openings over the coming decade.
Biological Scientist: Median income for a biological scientist is $74,790 a year with an expected steady employment projection over the coming decade.
Biological Technician: The annual median income as a biological technician is currently $42,520 with an expected growth rate of 8% which translates to some 26,000 job openings over the coming decade.
Biomedical Engineer: Annual median income for a biomedical engineer is $85,620 based on the latest data available. Jobs for biomedical engineers are expected to grow at a 14% clip over the coming decade resulting in 10,900 new job openings during that time.
Molecular & Cellular Biologist: Median annual income for a cellular and molecular biologist is $74,790 with a steady job growth projected over the coming ten year period.
Additional Resources for Biologists
Students intrigued by biology may consider a degree in chemistry, physics, or environmental science. For further information on a career path in biology, visit our Definitive Career Guide in Biology and Top College Degrees for Animal Lovers.
Additional resources for biology majors can be obtained from third-parties such as associations in the field of biology. Popular national organizations offering insights and support for biology professionals include associations such as AIBS, APB, NABT, Society for Conservation Biology, and HBA.