There are a wide range of programs that incorporate studies in the biological sciences. Degree options related to biological science include Associate of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences, Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry, Bachelor of Science in Microbiology, Master of Science in Biophysics and Master of Science in Physiology.
Labwork is required in a bachelor's degree, and a thesis or final project is required for master's programs.
Associate Degree in Agricultural Technology
Students who are interested in studying biology as it relates to agriculture and animals might consider enrolling in an associate's degree program in agricultural technology. Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Agriculture degree programs prepare students to work with large-scale gardens and domesticated animal production. Some 2-year programs allow students to choose between plant and animal science concentrations. Applicants are required to have completed high school and are recommended to have a background in algebra, geometry, biology and chemistry.
In addition to working with the genetics of cows, chickens, sheep and horses, students learn about microbiology, greenhouses, hydroponic systems and the production of organic foods. Programs also offer training in:
- Animal anatomy and physiology
- Animal disease
- Farm management
- Sustainable agriculture
Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology
Classroom training and hands-on laboratory experimentation prepare students to design advances in the agricultural, medical and environmental fields. Some of these 4-year programs allow students to obtain a master's degree with as little as one year of additional study. Applicants to undergraduate programs are simply required to have completed high school.
In addition to learning about molecular biology and metabolic manipulation, schools often offer interdisciplinary training in topics like intellectual property and ethics. Commonly offered coursework includes:
Master's Degree in Environmental Technology
Students of environmental technology use computer technology, mathematics and engineering principles to manage waste, clean pollution and otherwise preserve the environment. Graduate degree programs focus on preventing the spread of corrosive chemicals, toxic compounds and heavy metals so that they may be safely disposed of and transported. Completing a Master of Science or a Master of Science Technology degree program in environmental technology management, environmental technology or environmental chemistry and technology takes 18-24 months. Thesis and project-based programs are available.
Some schools admit bachelor's program graduates from disciplines other than one related to science, technology or engineering. Programs at these schools require that these students make up for their deficiencies in training by taking additional coursework.
In order to emphasize the holistic nature of environmental concerns, graduate training includes work on terrorism, environmental auditing, geographic information systems and risk assessment. As preparation for careers in academia, environmental consulting, research and resource management, students learn about:
- Waste management
- Hazardous chemicals
- Environmental regulations
- Air pollution
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 29,200 agricultural and food science technicians worked in the U.S. in 2018 (www.bls.gov). Associate degree program graduates can qualify for employment in positions that include animal food salespersons, artificial insemination laboratory technicians, dairy farm managers and agricultural product inspectors.
According to the BLS, about 85,000 professionals were employed as biological technicians in 2018. Depending on the degree programs' areas of emphasis, bachelor degree-holders were qualified to find work as biological technicians, clinical laboratory technologists, diagnostic medical sonographers and engineering technicians.
Earning a graduate degree could offer advanced career opportunities in biological science research and academia. Graduate-level training in biotechnology is found through a variety of programs. Advanced training in master's or doctoral programs might cover intellectual property rights, biomedicine, the molecular genetics of forests, bioinformatics or general environmental biology.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS reported that environmental scientists and specialists were expected to see an 8% increase in job opportunities from 2018-2028. In 2018, main employers of scientists in this specialty included management, scientific, and technical consulting services, state and local government agencies. The mean annual wage for environmental and health scientists and specialists in May 2018 was $77,580. Higher-paying industries included oil extraction companies and management companies (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education and Certification Information
Some schools offer transfer opportunities that accept credit earned in an associate's degree program to count toward a bachelor's degree. Training at the bachelor's degree level ranges from general agricultural technology programs to specialized training in fields like agricultural mechanization or agricultural equipment technology. Earning a bachelor's degree could expand career opportunities for graduates in the areas of management, research and other professional disciplines.
Voluntary certification is available through the National Environmental Health Association (www.neha.org). Available credentials include the Registered or Certified Environmental Health Specialist, Certified Environmental Health Technician and Registered Hazardous Substances Specialist. Credentials need to be renewed every two years by completing the required continuing education.
For those interested in careers in academia or research, relevant doctoral training is available through a variety of universities. Depending on the focus of the training, doctoral programs are available in environmental engineering and environmental chemistry.
Overall, there are a wide range of associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree programs that cover aspects of biological science and technology. The curriculum can vary significantly depending on the program, ranging from agriculture to medicine, which can affect the student's future career options.