What Can You Do With a PhD in Biology?

By earning a PhD in Biology, recent graduates will have learned how to properly conduct independent research and have gained valuable hands-on laboratory experience. Their educational background and experience will help them secure jobs as medical scientists and natural sciences managers.

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In the pursuit of a PhD in Biology, students will not only have a deeper knowledge of micro-organisms, genes, and the environment, but they will also develop the skills needed to be productive in the laboratory. They will learn not only how to conduct proper research, but also how to properly analyze and catalog data that they have collected, allowing them to secure jobs outside of academia. Found below are five careers best suited for those with such degrees, along with their job growth and median salary information.

PhD in Biology Careers/Salary

Like many doctoral programs, individuals have the choice of selecting their degree concentration in cell and molecular biology, ecology, behavior evolution and marine biology, and neurobiology. Additionally, they will spend a large portion of their time doing independent research both in and outside of the laboratory. While the degree concentration and course requirements may differ, graduates will have the tools and skills necessary to hold many different jobs within the field of science.

Job Title Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Microbiologists $69,960 8%
Environmental Scientists and Specialists $69,400 11%
Natural Sciences Managers $118,970 10%
Medical Scientists $82,090 13%
Postsecondary Biological Sciences Teachers $78,240 15%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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PhD in Biology Jobs


Microbiologists engage in research that is aimed at creating new drugs used to fight infectious diseases or geared toward improving sterilization. They oversee work done by laboratory technicians to ensure that their results are accurate. Additionally, they observe microorganisms to determine their effect on animals, plants, the environment, and other microorganisms. Individuals who have achieved a PhD in Biology will have the degree necessary to conduct research at the highest levels.

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists spend their time gathering water, soil, air, food, and other materials from the environment in an effort to identify potential problems. They will use the skills they have gained during their degree program to then properly analyze all data collected and formulate plans designed to reverse or control the situation. Additionally, they make the general public, government officials, and businesses, aware of possible heath and environmental hazards.

Natural Sciences Managers

Natural sciences managers discuss the strategies and goals for research with their employers and request funding for a given project. They oversee all aspects of the research process and run evaluations on current laboratory workers, as well as hire on new staff. Individuals within this job also make certain that laboratories are properly stocked and offer their assistance in operating laboratory tools and equipment. Since recent graduates have been instructed on the proper usage of laboratory equipment, they will be able to help others in the operation and maintenance of laboratory instruments.

Medical Scientists

Medical scientists aid in the development of new drugs and determine the dosage, potency, and methods of manufacture for said drugs. They use their educational background to investigate various human disease and illnesses, and uncover new treatment and prevention methods. These same individuals work with physicians, health departments, and industry personnel to develop programs designed to improve patient outcomes.

Postsecondary Biological Sciences Teachers

Postsecondary biological sciences teachers lecture students in subjects such as botany, molecular biology, microbiology, and marine biology. They continue to conduct research much in the same way they did on their way to a PhD in Biology and publish their finding in academic journals. Additionally, they supervise students within the laboratory and teach them how to properly operate all lab equipment.

Earning a PhD in Biology helps students foster a greater understanding of all living things and gives them the education and skill necessary to research and teach at the highest levels. They are able to use what they know to improve the well being of others and identify problems within our environment.

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