Careers in Biological Services: Job Options and Requirements

Oct 04, 2019

Biological science careers require significant formal education and training. Learn about a few possible careers in the biological science field, their respective job duties, and requirements of each career option to see if this is the career for you.

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If you love biology, but don't want to spend your workday in a lab, then this article is for you. It covers the career options of conservation scientists, forensic science technicians, and genetic counselors. Those who have these biological service occupations typically spend their work time in offices or the great outdoors.

Essential Information

Biological science encompasses many disciplines, including conservation biology, forensic biology and genetics. Many of these disciplines involve offering a particular service to the public. Career options in the biological services can range from genetic counseling to crime solving.

Possible Careers Conservation Scientist Forensic Science Technician Genetic Counselor
Required Education Bachelor's in Environmental Science field Bachelor's in hard science area Master's
Other Requirements Certification varies by position and state Internship/minor in criminal justice field AGBC Certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 4%* 14%* 27%*
Median Salary (2018) $61,310* $58,230* $80,370*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Conservation Scientist

Conservation scientists offer their services to governments, landowners and farmers. The goal of these scientists is to create a balance between environmental preservation and economic goals. Conservation scientists include soil conservationists, water conservationists and range managers.

Soil conservationists suggest methods that conserve water and prevent erosion, such as crop rotation, terracing, permanent vegetation and contour plowing. Water conservationists work to improve water quality by implementing techniques including vegetative filter strips, furrow diking and irrigation. Range managers protect the county's rangelands, which include grasslands, deserts, wetlands and prairies. These conservation scientists offer advice about animal grazing, construction plans, soil stability, preventing wildfires and restoring ecosystems.

Requirements

Employers usually require conservation scientists to have bachelor's degrees in the environmental sciences. According to the BLS, many soil and water conservationists earn degrees in agriculture science, natural resource management, agronomy, wildlife biology or forestry. Aspiring range managers typically earn degrees in range management. Range managers seeking advancement to management and research positions may need certification by The Society for Range Management. To become certified, candidates must pass written exams and have five years of work experience and three letters of recommendation.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that jobs for conservation scientists are expected to increase by 4% from 2018-2028. The BLS also reports that in 2018 conservation scientists earned a median salary of $61,310; the middle half of conservation scientists earned annual salaries of $46,210-$79,600.

Forensic Science Technician

Police departments, local agencies and federal agencies employ forensic science technicians to investigate crimes. Technicians visit crime scenes to collect physical evidence, which is later identified and analyzed in laboratories. Forensic science technicians also reconstruct crime scenes and provide court testimony.

Requirements

A bachelor's degree in forensic science, biology, physics, chemistry or physical anthropology is the minimum education requirement for forensic science technicians. To become more familiar with investigation methods and laws about acquiring evidence, aspiring technicians can minor in programs such as criminal justice. To gain necessary work experience, students should apply for internships at the medical examiner's office, district attorney's office or a private lab.

Career and Salary Information

According to the BLS, forensic science technicians can look forward to job growth of 14% from 2018-2028. The agency also reports that forensic science technicians earned a median salary of $58,230 in 2018. The 25th-75th percentile salary range for forensic science technicians was $44,340-$76,440 that same year, per the BLS.

Genetic Counselor

Working in a variety of medical settings, genetic counselors provide families and individuals with information about genetic disorders and birth defects. A genetic counselor determines if an individual carries genes for an inherited disorder by evaluating the family's medical history. Genetic counselors also refer families to local support services.

Requirements

Aspiring genetic counselors must first earn an undergraduate degree in a program such as healthcare, medical sciences or biology. After earning a 4-year degree, students can complete a master's degree in genetic counseling at an institution accredited by the American Board of Genetic Counselors (ABGC). As of 2018, 20 states require genetic counselors to have licenses before they can practice. Although it's only required by states issuing licenses, genetic counselors can receive board certification from the ABGC after passing exams.

Career and Salary Information

The BLS reports that the number of jobs for genetic counselors is expected to grow at a rate of 27% from 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average compared to other job sectors. It also reports that in 2018 genetic counselors earned a median salary of $80,370 .

While genetic counselors and forensic science technicians can expect much faster than average job growth through 2028, this does not necessarily mean that prospective conservation scientists will be hard pressed to find work. Regardless of occupation, jobseekers can benefit from certification and technical knowledge to keep up with new scientific discoveries.

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