PhD in Cancer Biology Jobs

Jan 13, 2021

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program in cancer biology includes the study of such topics as tumor cell signaling, cancer immunology and epidemiology. With this background you can pursue research and academic careers or combine your studies with a medical degree and treat patients. If you'd like to know more about what you can do with a PhD in cancer biology, we'll take a look below.

Salaries and Job Outlooks for PhD Cancer Biology Jobs

Position Average Salary (2019)* Career Outlook (2019-2029)*
Biological Science Professor $98,700 9%
Medical Scientist $98,770 6%
Veterinarian $104,820 16%
Physicians and Surgeons (all other) $203,450 4%
Health Specialties Professor $121,620 21%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for a PhD in Cancer Biology

Biological Science Professor

The biological sciences cover a wide range of areas. Biological science professors can teach subjects ranging from microbiology and biochemistry to biomedicine and ecology. A PhD is the standard degree required to reach a tenure-track position in a university, and with a degree in cancer biology, you'll be qualified to provide a specialized education in oncology and cancer studies. You'll find that many large universities provide grants and sabbaticals for research in specialized areas. These grants can help you research cancer biology and treatments while maintaining the school's backing.

Medical Scientist

This career is one where you can really shine with a PhD in cancer biology. As a medical scientist, you could design cancer studies and tests for different treatments. You'll gather medical samples and patient data to help with your studies as well as create new medical compounds and equipment. You will also need to continually research grant proposals for additional research funding. An additional job duty may be to explain your research projects to the company or organization you work for.


Though it may seem a stretch to consider a PhD in cancer biology useful for those who want to treat animals, the degree could be very beneficial as a secondary program. Unfortunately, animals get cancer, just like humans. With a doctorate in an area like cancer biology, you could focus your veterinary expertise in the oncology field, both as a researcher and practitioner. Some colleges even offer dual PhD and DVM degrees to get you your medical background as a vet while also giving you specialty knowledge and research experience in an area like cancer pathology.

Physician or Surgeon

Physicians and surgeons provide care for every part of the body. Individuals interested in studying oncology and cancer biology might want to consider positions as oncologists and oncology surgeons. Some universities pair a Doctor of Medicine (MD) with a PhD in cancer biology. As an oncologist, you'll diagnose and treat patients who have cancer. You may choose to focus your oncology profession even further with a specific area or demographic, such as pancreatic or pediatric cancer. As a surgeon, you'll operate on patients who are able to undergo invasive treatment.

Health Specialties Professor

A health specialties professor teaches courses in areas such as dentistry, pharmacology, or veterinary studies. Depending on the university, these classes could include the study of is radiology or oncology for prospective health care professionals. With a cancer biology PhD and additional training in a health specialty, you could teach students about cancer biology and treatment. You might cover topics such as dosimetry, or the preparation of prescription dosing. The health specialties courses tend to not focus directly on biological science topics, but they can allow your cancer biology knowledge to benefit future health care professionals.

A PhD in cancer biology can prepare you for teaching and research careers that are expected to experience faster than average job growth from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you'd like to treat patients, you'll can seek a dual medical degree with the PhD.

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