Careers for Integrative Biology Majors: Options and Requirements

Degrees in integrative biology typically cover more general knowledge than a specialized biology major. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for integrative biology graduates.

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Students who decide to major in integrative biology are usually preparing themselves for more vigorous research studies and career fields. Since interactive biology provides knowledge and training across a wider range of areas, this major should prepare individuals for some entry-level positions, as well as provide the groundwork for continuing on to specialized master's and PhD biology degree programs.

Essential Information

Integrative biology is most frequently offered as a four-year bachelor's degree program. Integrative biology majors have wider, more general knowledge than most of the specialized biology majors currently offered at universities. This general knowledge base translates to a wide variety of career options. Some of these careers require education beyond the bachelor's degree, and some of them have their own subspecialties. Even in specialized careers, integrative biology majors are wanted for their ability to use a broader approach to come up with unique solutions to specialized problems.

Career Titles Medical Scientist Biological Science Teacher, Postsecondary Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist
Required Education Ph.D. Ph.D. usually, but some schools may offer positions to those with just a master's degree Bachelor's degree for entry-level positions, graduate degrees for more advanced positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 8%* (except epidemiologists) 13%* 4%*
Median Salary (2015) $82,240* (except epidemiologists) $75,320* $59,680*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Integrative biology (IB) includes both whole-organism biology and ecology. Many different careers are open to IB majors because of their well-rounded knowledge in their field. These students have the potential to follow almost any career path involving biology, provided that they get the proper degrees or certifications required for the field in which they are interested. IB majors can find employment in government, education, industry, conservation and non-profit organizations. Some of the most common career titles include medical scientist, university teacher and zoologist or wildlife biologist.

Medical Scientist

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), medical scientists, not including epidemiologists, earned a median annual income of $82,240, as of May 2015. From 2014-2024, an 8% job growth is expected within the field.

Practicing medicine requires four years of medical school after receiving a bachelor's degree. After graduation from medical school, medical students must pass a licensing exam in the state in which they wish to practice medicine. They can acquire a specialization by completing a residency program in that specialty and passing the certification exam. Biology research generally requires a Ph.D., although research assistants sometimes need only a bachelor's degree.

Biological Science Teacher

Teaching at a college or university requires at least a master's degree, and usually a Ph.D., but no state certification is required. As of May 2015, postsecondary biological science teachers earned a median annual income of $75,320, per the BLS. Employment is expected to rise quickly, with a 13% increase in jobs projected from 2014 to 2024.

Zoologist/Wildlife Biologist

Employment as a museum or zoo curator generally requires a master's degree. Those who only have a bachelor's degree can sometimes find employment as museum or zoo technicians. Wildlife and field researchers and conservationists generally have the same education requirements as their laboratory counterparts, but also need the ability to spend many hours outside in potentially uncomfortable or hostile environments.

Zoologists and wildlife biologist brought in a median annual salary of $59,680, according to the BLS as of May 2015. Employment is expected to increase slowly, with only a four percent rise in jobs expected from 2014 to 2024.

Those who major in integrative biology will receive a wider range of training than those who major in more specific biological fields. In terms of careers, most integrative biology majors will need to go on to graduate level studies to pursue such research-based positions as postsecondary educators, zoologists, or medical scientists. Job growth for these three career fields has been projected at a slow to slightly above average growth rate between 2014 and 2024, per BLS data.

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