A master's degree in biology can prepare graduate students for a variety of careers in the field, depending on their area of concentration. Some of these jobs may be more lab-oriented, while others may have extensive fieldwork. Here we explore some of the available careers and salaries for those with a master's degree in biology.
Related Careers for Those with an MS in Biology
|Job Title||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Growth (2014-2024)*|
|Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists||$60,520||4%|
|Agricultural and Food Scientists||$62,920||5%|
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists||$68,910||11%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
A master's degree in biology, specifically wildlife biology or zoology, is typically required for zoologists or wildlife biologists who wish to work in higher level research positions as they study wildlife and their ecosystems. In their graduate studies, these scientists may take classes that focus on particular groups of animals or wildlife management and conservation, which they then apply while conducting complex research projects in the field to learn about a particular species' behavior, characteristics, habitat, and social interactions. Zoologists and wildlife biologists usually publish their research findings in papers and presentations that may be applied to help improve conservation efforts of a species and/or ecosystem.
Biology graduate students interested in studying various kinds of microorganisms and working primarily in a laboratory setting may enjoy a job as a microbiologist. These professionals identify and study bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microscopic lifeforms to better understand the organism's effects on its environment. A master's degree in biology would prepare a microbiologist with the various lab skills needed to provide lab services, as well as the research skills to report their scientific findings.
Agricultural and Food Scientists
Agricultural and food scientists also include animal, plant and soil scientists, all of which require extensive study in biology and other life sciences. The primary aim of these scientists is to improve agricultural products, whether through more efficient processing, increased productivity, sustainability or higher quality. Those with a master's degree in biology can apply their knowledge of the field to improve crop yields, keep food safe, crossbreed more productive animals and more.
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
Environmental scientists and specialists use their background in biology and other natural sciences to protect the environment. Their efforts also affect human health, as they carefully monitor the air, water, soil and other natural resources for effects of pollution and contamination. After analyzing samples, they report their results to government officials, businesses or other organizations with suggestions on how to improve or solve the problem. A master's degree in a science-related field, such as biology, is usually needed for career advancement.
Biology students who are more interested in the medical or health side of the field could work as an epidemiologist and apply their knowledge of biology, statistics and causal analysis to their research projects. Their projects may be conducted in various areas, such as injury, chronic diseases, and infectious diseases, as they strive to learn about and understand the patterns and causes of these conditions. Epidemiologists present their results to the public and health officials, and the findings are often used to help shape public health programs to combat these conditions.
There are several different careers available to those who graduate with a master's degree in biology that are based on their particular area of interest and specialization in the field. These jobs typically fall within the categories of environmental, laboratory and/or health-related careers.