What can you do with a biology degree
For those with an interest in science, a biology degree may be appealing. Biology students study humans, animals, insects, microscopic organisms and more. They learn how the world’s organisms affect each other, the impact they have on human lives, how energy is processed, how much food each animal needs in order to survive and more. All these skills transfer to the workplace — for a variety of career options.
Biology students use scientific research as well as learned knowledge in lecture, and skills learned in the laboratory, in order to discover more about the problem at hand. Those with biology degrees tend to be good at applying scientific fact to everyday problems, which applies to many fields.
If you are interested in learning about the world’s organisms, you may want to pursue a degree in biology. But what can one do after graduation with such a degree?
What types of job can you get with a biology degree?
The most obvious of biology-related careers — biologists study and conduct research and experiments on the earth’s organisms. For those who would prefer a more isolated career rather than working with people, biologists mainly conduct their work inside a laboratory. However, certain types of biologists do leave the laboratory to conduct research — i.e. environmental biologists venture out to their subjects’ habitats to conduct their research properly.
If you mostly enjoyed your time in the laboratory, becoming a biology technician will allow you to transfer those skills into the real world. Technicians do the actual hands-on work of scientific studies; they record results and carry out calculations to gather scientific reports. Technician positions do not require graduate school or continued education, which offers a potential path for those postponing extended study, especially for financial reasons. Technicians can find work at government agencies, research centers, medical schools and more.
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
Biology majors who enjoy studying and learning about science but are more on the outgoing side may express an interest in pharmaceutical sales. Pharmaceutical sales representatives work with drug companies to help sell their latest medications. Sales representatives normally travel frequently to visit different clients at hospitals or medical centers, and their salaries are higher than that of most other Biology-related careers — after gaining a few years of experience, sales reps can make well over $100,000 per year.
Genetic counselors also get to work with people. Genetic counselors study the genetic makeup of their clients and explain, layman’s terms, exactly what it means. For example, a genetic counselor may inform a client of her chances of developing multiple sclerosis or diabetes through her lifetime, as well as her chances of transferring these chances to any future children. Biology majors use their knowledge of anatomy, diseases and biotechnology, as well as any communication and writing skills in order to present findings.
Biology majors can also pursue a career in health education. Health educators work to teach clients the best health and wellness practices, and biology degrees prepare graduates with proper and adequate knowledge of nutrition, exercise, disease, public health concerns and more. A biology major’s developed communication skills also come in handy when working to explain scientific research and studies on nutrition, stress reduction, etc. to clients who may not be informed.
Jobs that require more than just a Bachelor’s degree
Certain Biology-related fields require more than just a four-year degree from a university. A doctorate degree in biology can allow you to explore the field in different ways. You can specialize within biology — in biochemistry, zoology, evolutionary biology, neuroscience, genetics and more. Microbiologists can go on to study diseases, viruses, bacteria and more. A zoologist may go on to work with larger animals at a national zoo. And a doctorate in biology can allow one to teach at a university level.
How much should you expect to make?
Like most fields, the salaries of people with biology degrees vary depending on the field and career path of that person. A biology major can make anywhere from $40,000 to over $100,000 per year. For example, a food science technician makes, on average, $62,000 a year, while a pharmaceutical sales representative can make over $121,000 annually. While a biological technician may make around $47,000, an environmental scientist may be making $76,000. More often than not, the jobs that require further education, i.e. a Master’s or a Doctorate, will pay more than a job that requires a Bachelor’s degree.
Skills that biology majors have that are useful in all jobs
Biology majors focus on research, writing, mathematics and more — all skills that can be valuable and useful in many fields. In obtaining a biology degree, students develop:
- Data analysis
- Attention to detail
- Chart and graph creation
- Critical thinking
- Deductive reasoning
- Observational skills
- Outcome prediction
- Time management
- Verbal and written communication
Where to look for jobs
Jobs in biology-related fields can be found on most career search sites, such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster, Simply Hired and more. There are also science-specific search sites, like ScienceCareers.org, BiologyJobs.com and Sciencejobs.com.
Hear from a biologist
While a career in biology can seem intimidating, it can ultimately be rewarding. Angela Santin, a biologist who works as a cancer researcher at Cornell University, told Cosmopolitan, “Working in a research lab helped me realize that I really enjoyed putting ideas together on how things work and being able to test my own ideas.” Santin received her Bachelor’s in natural sciences and biology from the University of Akron in 2010 and her Master’s in biological sciences from Idaho State University in 2012.
And with biology, there is always room for exploration in your field.
“I enjoy working with students and watching them learn how to conduct scientific research. I love my current job, and it is a great fit for me right now, but this job has opened my eyes to further possibilities for a career. I plan to pursue a Ph.D. in a few years and eventually have a lab of my own at a university,” she said.