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How to Become a Biological Scientist: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a biological scientist. Research the education, training information, and experience required for starting a career in biological science. View article »

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  • 0:00 Biological Scientist
  • 0:37 Career Requirements
  • 1:14 Step 1: Obtain a…
  • 2:28 Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree
  • 3:22 Step 3: Consider a…
  • 4:03 Step 4: Pursue Career…

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Video Transcript

Biological Scientist

Are you thinking about becoming a biological scientist? Biological scientists examine the relationship between the environment and living organisms. This is done to gain an understanding of life processes and to create new scientific techniques or products to better the world. These scientists might work at laboratories, research organizations and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. They can also conduct research and possibly teach at a university. Most biological science jobs allow workers to maintain regular full-time schedules.

Career Requirements

What are the career requirements to become a biological scientist? Bachelor's degree may allow for entry-level positions, but a doctorate is needed for most positions. The field of study should be biology, biological sciences or related science. Key skills for a biological scientist include things like critical thinking, problem solving, communication, mathematics, understanding of specialized lab equipment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for biological scientists is $79,200. H

Step 1: Obtain a Bachelor's Degree

How do you become a biological scientist? Step 1: obtain a bachelor's degree.

The first educational step to becoming a biological scientist is to acquire a 4-year bachelor degree in biology. An aspiring biological scientist takes classes in biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science. General education requirements might include English, a foreign language, communications, social sciences and arts. Classes that require laboratory work are important due to the skills acquired in them. Students learn to operate technical equipment like burners and work with glass beakers and vials.

Here are some tips for success:

  • Choose well within the larger degree. Meet with a professor or advisor to choose the right concentration or track for your professional goals.
  • Apply for lab assistant work study. Many college labs offer opportunities to gain lab experience through work-study programs. This involves tasks such as cleaning the lab, organizing equipment, and aiding researchers in their studies. It may also offer a chance to watch researchers go about their job.

Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree

Most employers hiring biological scientists prefer applicants with a master's degree. This 2-year graduate program in biological science can include specializations, independent study and a capstone or a research project. Advanced classes at the graduate level may cover subjects like biochemistry, neurobiology, ecology, evolution and molecular, developmental and cell biology. Master's programs may offer the opportunity to work with a professor to individualize a plan of study.

Here is a tip for success:

  • Seek an internship. An internship in a biochemistry or biophysics lab provides students with hands-on experience in biological science. Internships can often be arranged through a university. Some professional labs also offer internship opportunities.

Step 3: Consider a Doctoral Program

Biological scientists looking for work in management, inspection, product development and applied research can get by with a bachelor's or a master's degree. A doctoral program involves conducting original research, writing a thesis and defending the thesis to a council of scholars, and earning this degree allows biological scientists to seek advanced positions in academia or independent research. Areas of research will vary depending on the institution attended, but may include neurobiology, molecular biology, developmental and cell biology or behavior, evolution and ecology.

Step 4: Pursue Career Advancement

Biological scientists who gain enough experience may qualify for work as natural sciences managers. In this position, they'd oversee the work of other scientists in labs or in the field.

In order to become a biological scientist, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, along with experience will pave the way for this great career.

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