Computational biology is the process of creating mathematical equations which compute trends in the way life works. Computational biology experts can work as computer and information research scientist or biological science professors. Typically, these careers require a Ph.D.
There are many research applications for this career, such as devising computer modeling simulations and analyzing large amounts of information and data. Those who work in academia can devise models and predictions for molecular biological systems. In order to obtain a faculty position, students must obtain their Ph.D. In the commercial industry, computational biologists can work for pharmaceutical companies. Master's degrees are generally required for this career path. Students can also work for the federal government.
|Career||Computer and Information Research Scientists||Postsecondary Biological Science Teachers|
|Education Requirements||Bachelor's degree sufficient for some positions with federal government; Ph.D. required for the private sector||Ph.D.|
|Job Growth (2018-2028)*||16%||12%|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$118,370||$82,550|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Students who get a degree in computational biology have many career options, such as working in the government, academic and commercial industries. Specific job titles for this degree include postsecondary teachers and computer and information research scientists. Below are overviews and detailed sections about two possible career options for computational biology majors.
Computational Biology Professor
Computational biologists in academia can work with other theoretical and applied researchers to devise models, simulations and predictions for molecular biological systems and interactions. They can also analyze large quantities of data related to genetics and genomics. Academic researchers typically teach courses in their field and supervise student research projects in addition to conducting their own research.
Careers in academia commonly require a graduate degree in computational biology. To obtain a faculty position at a university, a Ph.D. is recommended, though a master's degree is typically sufficient to teach at a 2-year college. In addition, working in a postdoctoral position for several years after graduation is usually necessary before a permanent faculty or research position can be obtained.
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Pharmaceutical companies, scientific software companies and biotechnology companies all employ computational biologists in research and development. Modeling drug interactions, developing analytical software for use by biologists and analyzing large data sets for biotech companies that provide genetic analysis services are all potential applications of computational biology. Commercial research is more controlled by the requirements of business and profit than academic research.
Individuals aspiring to work in research and development may benefit from completing a graduate degree, though a bachelor's degree may be sufficient for some positions. Master's degree programs in computational biology are generally designed for the industry career path. A Ph.D. may be preferred, however, and is usually required for higher-level or independent research and development positions.
Career Options in Government
The federal government employs computational biologists in various health and research institutes. Analyzing large quantities of data for research in areas such as genomics and epidemiology is a possible application of computational biology in this career path.
As with research jobs under other employers, the required level of education for this field is commonly a graduate degree in computational biology or related field such as bioinformatics, though a bachelor's degree may suffice for some positions. Those with a Ph.D. obtain jobs with more responsibility and pay than those with a master's degree. It is common for the government to have more thorough background checks and requirements than commercial institutions.
Due to faster than average job growth, both biological science professors and computer and information research scientists should have good job prospects over the next decade. In addition, the high level of education required for both careers means that there are not a large amount of applicants for many positions.