Evolutionary Biologist: Job Description, Salary and Outlook

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an evolutionary biologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you.

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Whether working in a lab or in the field, an evolutionary biologist focuses on the evolution of life and the interaction of Earth's organisms. Degrees are offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level, though a Ph.D. is usually needed for positions in academia and research.

Essential Information

Evolutionary biologists study living organisms through the lens of evolutionary theory. Degree requirements vary according to the type of work. Individuals who wish to work in research or teach in college need a doctoral degree, while a bachelor's or master's degree may be sufficient for lower-level jobs.

Required Education Bachelor's or master's for entry-level jobs; doctorate for research or teaching positions
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3.7% for biological scientists
Average Annual Salary (2015)* $79,610 for biological scientists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description for an Evolutionary Biologist

Working as an evolutionary biologist means studying and researching biodiversity, the way in which life on Earth has evolved and how organisms interact. According to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, the field of evolutionary biology is closely tied to other disciplines, such as systematic biology, ecology, biogeography, and taxonomy (www.sicb.org).

Educational Requirements

A Ph.D. is typically needed for independent research, positions in academia, and administrative posts, while a bachelor's or master's degree is sufficient for less advanced jobs in related fields. Courses consist of topics like genetics, molecular and behavioral ecology, evolution, and botany. These professionals may complete lab assignments to better understand biological systems and how these systems may have evolved over time.

Work Environment

Evolutionary biologists may work in the field observing ecosystems, gathering information, and collecting specimens. They may also plan and conduct experiments in a lab and evaluate their results in an office setting. These professionals may be required to travel to attend meetings and conferences.

Salary Information and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological scientists in general earned an average salary of $79,610 per year as of 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected that employment for all biological scientists was expected to grow about 3.7% between 2014 and 2024.

An evolutionary biologist is involved in experiments, studies, and research on the theory of evolution. A bachelor's or master's degree in biology or related discipline is required at minimum, though doctorates allow for research and pedagogical positions.

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