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Applied Biology Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Degrees in applied biology typically cover scientific research and development topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for applied biology graduates.

Biological technicians, food scientists and environmental engineers are all careers within the field of applied biology. Each career begins with the completion of a bachelor's degree although some fields, specifically food scientists, may require a graduate degree.

Essential Information

The two prominent career routes in the field of applied biology are as technicians and research scientists. Researchers formulate, direct and conduct studies in the field of applied biology, while technicians perform routine procedures and tests, maintain equipment and manage supplies.

Technician educational requirements vary by field, but almost always require postsecondary education, which could be an associate's or a bachelor's degree related to the desired career field, such as crop science, agricultural science, biotechnology or bioengineering. Research and scientist positions typically require at least a master's degree and usually a doctoral degree in the appropriate specialization. Several years in a post-doctoral position are often needed for high-level research positions.

Career Title Biological Technician Food Scientist Environmental Engineer
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Bachelor's degree minimum; graduate-level degree often required Bachelor's degree
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% 5% (food scientists and technologists) 12%
Median Salary (2015)* $41,650 $65,840 (food scientists and technologists) $84,560

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Applied biology focuses on solving specific real-world problems and creating biological products. Most applied biology careers are with government agencies or private industries, and while some applied biology professionals work in labs to manufacture pharmaceuticals, others create better methods for growing food and maintaining natural resources. Besides the careers detailed below, other applied biology work options include pharmaceutical research, bioengineering, civil engineering, rural development and environmental toxicology.

Biological Technicians

Biological technicians assist scientists as they carry out experiments by maintaining lab equipment and aiding in research and data-gathering processes. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of biological technicians was expected to increase by 5% between 2014 and 2024, which is about the same as the average rate for all occupations within the United States. Biological technicians are listed as earning a median salary of $41,650 per year, as of May 2015.

Food Scientists

Food scientists study the composition of food, including nutrient content, by using chemistry and other sciences. They develop foods with better nutritional value, quality or taste. The BLS reported that the employment of food scientists and technologists was expected to increase by 5% from 2014 to 2024. Their website also lists the median annual income of food scientists and technologists as $65,840, as of 2015.

Environmental Engineers

Environmental engineers try to solve environmental issues by using engineering, biology, and other scientific approaches. Protecting plants from environmental and human elements is a focus for many applied biology scientists. The BLS projected a 12% increase in employment for environmental engineers from 2014 to 2024. The median annual income for these professionals was $84,560 in 2015, according to the BLS.

Applied biology, as the title suggests, takes the science of biology and applies it to real life needs, creating biological products. Biological technicians work in the research process of applied biology, assisting scientists in the laboratory. Food scientists work to develop better variations of foods and environmental engineers use science to solve environmental issues.

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