What Can You Do with A Biology Degree and How Can You Get One

What Can You Do with A Biology Degree

What can you do with a biology degree? It is more than just looking through a microscope taking samples from pipettes. Learn about the job, what educational tracks you can choose from, and where it can take you professionally.

Biologist Job Description

Biologist-Job-Description

A biologist, in its very simplest terms, studies organisms of all kinds of life and learns more about how they work. In the job, they will assist the team by collecting samples, performing tests, taking measures, and analyzing results. The backbone of a biologist position is through very strong research skills. You should also know how to collaborate with other people and share the following traits with them:

  • A knowledgeable understanding the topic at hand
  • Excellent critical analysis skills
  • Highly observant
  • Detail-oriented
  • Great communication skills

These are just the base responsibilities handled by a biologist. What can you do with a biology degree that will allow you to specialize and take your job in a specific, career-oriented direction?

  • Botany

A biologist can concentrate on the functions of plants — how they grow and evolve over time. This does not just apply to a common houseplant like a rose, but also to non-animal organisms such as algae, fungi, and bacteria. These are all linked to the total ecosystem of the plant. The job of a botanist can be found in places like botanical gardens, medical labs, or any research center based on agricultural matters.

  • Human Biology

Improving people’s lives asks for a careful examination of the human body and its populations from the cellular to the environmental level. Careers included in human biology that you might know include doctor, dentist, or veterinarian, but as the position gets more specific, so does the discipline. Doctors can become geneticists, bacteriologists, virologists, or more.

  • Wildlife Biology

A biologist who studies or uses his or her skills to manage wild animals and their habitats knows the important roles in the environment and the organisms that live in them. They study their physical characteristics and behaviors. This has become more important as the human impact on the environment has increased at an alarming rate worldwide. There is a difference between a wildlife biologist and zoologist — the former specializes in a species and its habitat, while a zoologist normally concentrates on one species.

  • Population Biology

This is a more research-intensive role where biologists investigate the factors that affect the population sizes of specific biological organisms. This can be used in jobs that focus on ecology and conservation efforts. This can lead to positions in government or nonprofit organizations.

Education & Certification

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The field biological sciences are ever-changing, so that makes what can you do with a biology degree a variable as well. An undergraduate degree in biology is one that offers comprehensive information on life sciences. If you include the right minor to your undergraduate program, you can begin a path towards the desired career. There are specially designed undergraduate programs created for dedicated students.

  • Bioinformatics

This is the crossroads between biological sciences and technology, which has become a necessary component in a post-genome laboratory world. Students learn how to develop and apply software tools to integrate with their laboratory-based science. Bioinformatics programs include mathematics, statistics, computer science, chemistry, and biology in order to enter the field.

  • Ecology and Evolution

The interconnectedness of organisms and the environment has also picked up the interest of prospective students. Their curiosity to learn about ecology leads them to understand how modern organisms developed into their habitat — that is where evolutionary studies come in. Courses in genetics, public health, physics, and mathematics are key to attaining a degree in this major.

  • Microbiology

The details of life are what biologists need to learn in order to master them. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa — these are some microscopic organism students with a microbiology degree carefully study. Once they learn the methods of those organisms, they can manipulate them in labs by modifying DNA sequences to generate the medical or environmental outcome desired. Courses included in an undergraduate microbiology program include genetics, biochemistry, physics, genomics, virology, immunology, and more.

  • Molecular Biology

For an even deeper dive into the study of an organism, look at the very molecules that create them. Molecular biology explores the various interactions of cellular and subcellular parts that are essential to all processes of life. An undergraduate microbiology program can split into two tracks: biochemistry or cell and development biology. The former puts an effort on protein biochemistry, microbiology, biotechnology, protein function, and molecular evolution. The latter concentrates on topics such as human disease, neurobiology, RNA biology, epigenetics, and systems biology.

  • More education options

What can you do with a biology degree that is past the standard four-year undergraduate course? You can further your education with a graduate course, specializing it in more biological science. You can take it in a different direction and pick up an MBA if you are interested in going for a more business-oriented career in science.

If either of those options seems too strong for your time or expenses, there are short-term certification programs that can help you gain employment in certain industries and government positions. You also have to consider that most school departments have internship programs available or have affiliations with companies that offer job opportunities for biology undergrads.

What Can You Do with a Biology Degree?

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The most common opinion people will tell you to what can you do with a biology degree is that you should pursue a career in medicine. The actual range of opportunities for a college degree is much larger than that, however. There are jobs in both the public and private sector, in both small to large scales, which can be equally lucrative and fulfilling.

  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Sales representatives with a biological science background have an advantage over others, which is important since sales is a high-turnover business that demands tenacity and strong familiarity with the background. Courses you can do with a biology degree for this job include chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, public speaking, English, and finance. The last three are logical choices since as a sales rep you will be in contact with hundreds of clients and have to know about business practices and the best way to convey complicated scientific facts to companies.

  • High School Teacher

Becoming a high school biology teacher is equal parts being a motivator and being a fountain of knowledge for students on a specific area. People always mention the passion teachers have, and in this case, this means a teacher must be excited about interacting with their students just as much as they are with the life sciences. What you can do with a biology degree is not enough if you want to be a high school teacher — you will most likely need an education minor, an education preparation program, and public school license.

  • Biological Technician/Research Assistant

The name is just a catch-all term that covers a wide variety of professionals with a biology degree or a closely related field. It can vary from being a laboratory technician, lab specialist, bacteriology technician, or more:

  • Aquatic Scientist
  • Artificial Breeding
  • Artificial Breeding Technician
  • Artificial Inseminator
  • Babcock Tester
  • Bacteriology Lab Specialist, Bacteriology Research Assistant
  • Biochemistry Technician
  • Biological Aide

Technicians must know how to understand the growing scientific world in their lab. They need to pay impeccable attention to detail and be great problem solvers that can analyze the hardest subjects in their specialty. It takes several years of work-related experience to be truly considered a research assistant.

  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

A firm understanding in engineering is necessary to go along with what you can do with a biology degree in this career. Courses on law, public safety, and education are also beneficial towards attaining an OHS specialist career. Because of the number of existing codes and regulations made by governmental departments, many employers will require health and safety specialists to be certified, and continue their education.

  • Outside of Biology

There are some career choices that may ask of what can you do with a biology degree, but they are different in the duties and responsibilities normally found in a laboratory-based job.

  • Nanotechnologist
  • Science writer
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Health promotion specialist

Conclusion

Whether it is the human body, a wild zebra, or genetically engineered bacteria, the knowledge students learn from biology-related courses is invaluable to a future career. What can you do with a biology degree that can lead to a promising scientific career? It is about looking at the long view of life, seeing which part of it captivates you, and then making it the one you are willing to place your time in, whether that is in a lab, coding in Java, or re-writing the genes on e.coli. Your educational choices, like life, find a way.

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