What Can You Do With a Biological Science Degree?
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 (2018-2028)||5% (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*|
|Average Salary (2018)||$67,760 (zoologists and wildlife biologists)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
Biological Science Careers
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.
List of Careers in Biology
A major in biological science can lead to a wide variety of careers. These may include:
- Medical technologist
- Aquatic scientist
- Wildlife biologist
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 that medical scientists, such as pharmacologists, could see job growth of 8% from 2018-2028, while biochemists and biophysicists are predicted to see job growth of 6% during the same decade. In 2018, these professionals earned average salaries of $96,420 and $105,940, respectively.
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 average job growth of 5% for microbiologists during the 2018-2028 decade. They earned an average annual salary of $81,150 in 2018.
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 the 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 5% from 2018-2028, environmental scientists and specialists could see an 8% increase in job opportunities over this ten-year period. Zoologists and wildlife biologists' average annual salary was $67,760 in 2018. Environmental scientists and specialists earned an average wage of $77,580 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.
Another career option is to become a medical technologist who works in a medical laboratory conducting tests that aid doctors and researchers in discovering and preventing disease. Becoming a geneticist is also an option, 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, much-faster-than-average job growth was expected for most careers in this area. Forensic science technicians, for example, could see a 14% increase in employment opportunities from 2018-2028, while clinical laboratory technologists and technicians could see job growth of 11%. These lab employees earned an average of $53,880 per year in 2018. Forensic science technicians earned a slightly higher average annual salary of $62,490.
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 four-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:
- Cell biology
Master of Science in Biological Science
These are one-year to two-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 two-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.