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Physiologist Assistant: Job and Career Information

Learn about the kind of work a physiologist assistant performs. Discover what skills are necessary in addition to educational requirements, salary and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for a Physiologist Assistant

Physiologist assistants aid in the study of organisms, including humans, other animals and plants. Under the supervision of physiologists, they conduct laboratory procedures and tests to help develop new pharmaceutical products, identify and prevent disease and conduct academic research. Physiologist assistants typically work for medical laboratories, biotechnology companies and academic institutions.

Education Bachelor's degree is common
Job Skills Scientific and analytical skills, excellent writing, attention to detail, ability to repeat experiments precisely
Median Salary (2015)* $41,650 for biological technicians
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% for biological technicians

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Most physiology assistants have B.S. degrees in physiology or related fields of biology, according to the American Physiology Society. During their education, aspiring physiology assistants gain experience with the types of equipment they will use in their careers. Many physiology assistants gain laboratory experience as interns to increase their employment opportunities after graduation.

Skills Required

In addition to having scientific and analytical skills, physiologist assistants need excellent writing skills in order to prepare reports that state the findings of their research. Assisting physiologists requires close attention to detail and the ability to repeatedly conduct experiments and procedures in an identical fashion.

Career and Economic Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological technicians, including physiologist assistants, earned a median annual salary of $41,650 in 2015. The BLS estimates that biological technicians will have a projected 5% employment growth for the years 2014 through 2024.

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Alternative Careers

For more advanced careers in research, consider these choices:

Microbiologist

Although some job duties overlap those performed by physiologist assistants, microbiologists focus solely on research involving microorganisms, like algae, fungi, bacteria and viruses. They classify organisms, create cultures from samples, study the effects of interactions with other living organisms, create detailed reports of findings and oversee the work of biological technicians.

To obtain an entry-level position in the field, a bachelor's degree in microbiology or a related area of study is required, and possessing laboratory experience is very important. A doctoral degree is necessary for independent research positions and work at universities. The BLS predicts a 4% increase in job opportunities for microbiologists from 2014-2024, and many of these new positions will be found in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. As reported by the BLS in May 2015, these science professionals received a median wage of $67,550.

Biophysicist

For those interested in more technical job duties in the field of physiology, becoming a biophysicist should be a consideration. Biophysicists perform research that includes exploring the interaction of drugs, food and other substances on human tissue and how cell mutations cause genetic disorders. Jobs in research will require a doctorate in biophysics, and studies should include research project planning coursework. Undergraduate degrees in biology, physics and engineering are good ways to prepare for graduate programs. According to BLS data, biophysicists and biochemists should experience 8% employment growth between 2014 and 2024. The BLS estimated the median income of biophysicists to be $82,150 in 2015.

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