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Careers for Biological Science Majors: Job Options and Requirements

Biological science is generally a bachelor's or graduate degree program. Continue reading for an overview of the majors, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Are you wondering what you could do with a degree in biological science? Wonder no more! This article introduces a variety of interesting careers available to biological science graduates.

Essential Information

Through the study of living organisms and how they relate to the environment, graduates of biological science degree programs often focus on a specific area of science. Majoring in biological sciences provides a knowledge base for a variety of career opportunities. Most biological science careers require a minimum of a bachelor's degree; however, advanced education is common, particularly in positions related to research or teaching.

Education Requirements Bachelor's degree for technician jobs, graduate degree for more advanced positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 4% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*
Average Salary (2015) $64,230 (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Career Options

Careers for biological science majors typically break down into five groups. While this list is not entirely comprehensive, it gives a good idea of the variety of opportunities available to those who graduate with biological science degrees.

These career options exist in private industries, health care, education, government agencies, research fields and several other areas. A general biological science degree can be sufficient for entry into many of these career options; however, more specialized study is often required for career advancement.

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Careers

Biological science majors may become biophysicists, who focus on studying how organisms live, think and develop. Other professional research scientist career options for biological science majors include pharmacologists, who test and develop drugs to prevent and treat disease, and toxicologists, who conduct studies to evaluate the impact that radiation and toxic materials have on health and the environment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected jobs in this field to grow at a rate that is comparable to the average for all other occupations. Medical scientists, such as pharmacologists, and biochemists and biophysicists could see job growth of 8% between 2014 and 2024. In 2015, these professionals earned average salaries of $93,730 and $93,390, respectively.

Microbiology Careers

Microbiologists focus their work in areas such as food, health, veterinary, medical, environmental and agricultural science. These scientists study microorganisms such as fungi, viruses, bacteria, protozoa and algae. They focus on how these organisms develop, distribute themselves and cause disease. Primarily, microbiologists hope to treat and prevent disease within their given field.

The BLS projected a slow job growth of 4% for microbiologists during the 2014-2024 decade. They earned an average annual salary of $76,230 in 2015.

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Environmental Science Careers

Biological science majors might focus on plant life and become botanists, where they can study topics from the largest trees on Earth to the smallest bacteria in plants. Their studies may also lean towards ecology, which deals with plants' relationships with their environment and world as a whole. Others might work in marine or aquatic fields as scientists who study life within streams, lakes and oceans. They can work for fisheries or even as wildlife biologists, where their careers focus on wild animals in their natural habitats. These scientists might help endangered species.

While zoologists and wildlife biologists were expected to see employment growth of only 4% from 2014-2024, environmental scientists and specialists could see an 11% increase in job opportunities over this 10-year period. Zoologists and wildlife biologists' median annual salary was $59,680 in 2015. Environmental scientists and specialists earned a median wage of $67,460 per year.

Human Biology Careers

Human biology is another area of interest for biological science majors. These careers range from becoming a forensic biologist, who focuses on DNA, bodily tissues and fluids, to being an exercise physiologist, who works with people in overcoming injuries or improving physical health and well being.

Becoming a medical technologist, who works in a medical laboratory, conducting tests that aid doctors and researchers in discovering and preventing disease, is another career option. Another option is a geneticist, which is a biological science career choice for those who wish to study hereditary traits and issues, as well as genes and human DNA.

According to the BLS, below average or average job growth was expected for most careers in this area. Forensic science technicians, for example, could see a 27% increase in employment opportunities from 2014-2024, while medical and clinical laboratory technologists could see job growth of 14%. These lab employees earned an average of $61,860 per year in 2015. Forensic science technicians earned a slightly lower average annual salary of $60,090.

Requirements for Biological Science Careers

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences have sufficient opportunities to work in technician, inspection, testing, laboratory and research positions, among many others. Graduate degrees are generally required for most other careers related to biological sciences. Specializations in biological science education often become more focused as degree programs become more advanced.

Bachelor of Science in Biological Science

These 4-year degree programs provide graduates with the ammunition to enter into biological science careers. The specialized study area can further refine required coursework. Common courses include:

  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology
  • Cell biology

Master of Science in Biological Science

These are 1-year to 2-year degree programs often used by graduates who are looking to enter into teaching or research careers. These programs require a bachelor's degree in biological science or a related degree.

Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences

These are 2-year degree programs, which often include thesis and dissertation courses as part of the curriculum. The specialized area of study determines the specific coursework in a program.

Medical scientists, biochemists, and biophysicists have the highest average incomes. Forensic science technicians and medical and clinical lab technologists have the fastest projected rates of growth through 2024.

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