Did you recently graduate with a degree in biology, and you are looking for a job that will fulfill you financially, intellectually, or emotionally? Or are you prospecting for a degree course, and you wonder what job opportunities would be there for you in biology?
In this article, we explore the typical careers with a biology degree and highlight some of the highest-paying jobs for biology majors. We also offer you tips on finding a job with a biology degree and tips for growing in your chosen career in biology.
Let’s dive in.
What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology?
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you just graduated with a degree in biology, you are likely to get a job soon and one that pays well. Statistics show that most biology scientists make $69,000 per year on average. Furthermore, the Bureau projects 8-11% growth in the number of job opportunities in the fields of life, physical and social sciences.
There are as many career options for a biology degree as there are biology topics. You could work in either the private sector or the government. Other potential employers include pharmaceutical companies, laboratories, research institutes, institutions of higher learning, laboratories, etc.
While some jobs only require a degree in biology, others require that you pursue further studies and get professional certifications. In the next session, we will look at some of the top biology jobs in various fields.
Top 10 Fields In Biology Which Have High Salaries And Have High Job Expectancies
Below are some of the top biology career options in various fields.
1. Biology Careers in Research
Research is crucial in solving the world’s problems. Some biology career options in this field include neurology, microbiology, research in health, disease, and pharmacology. With a biology major, you may find a job in research in the areas of academia, hospitals, medical facilities, research institutes, and pharmaceutical companies.
2. Biology Careers in Healthcare
Biologists are commonly sought after in the medical field. You can work as a healthcare biologist or biological technician to help develop campaigns and treatment regimens for many diseases.
However, in this field, you will be required to specialize in the area of medical biology and pursue further studies. For instance, you could pursue an additional degree to become a doctor, nutritionist, dentist, or get certifications in nursing.
Healthcare biologists can also work outside hospitals and medical facilities, including policy-making, war-torn regions, and pharmaceutical companies.
3. Biology Careers in Environmental Conservation
If you are an environment conservation enthusiast, this field may be ideal for you. You can work as a marine biologist, zoo biologist, ecologist, or environmental strategist to help protect and solve environment-related problems. Environmental biologists can find jobs in not-for-profit organizations, charities, governments, conservation bodies, ecological consultancies, and government, among others.
4. Biology Careers In Education
A biology career in academia is a great option for you if you enjoy teaching and academic research. To become a university biology lecturer, you would require a Master’s degree and, in some instances, a Ph.D. in biology.
However, you can work as a biology teacher at a primary or secondary school with only a biology degree, but you would need to get a teaching qualification. Should you decide to further your studies, you can research, write, and publish papers and become a part of the advisory board in the particular field.
5. Biology Careers in Biotechnology
As a biotechnologist who has a master’s in biotechnology, you can use scientific principles to develop or improve technology in different fields, including genetics, agriculture, medicine, food science, medical technology, and drug development, among others.
6. Biology Careers in Forensic Science
Forensic biologists mainly work in either the legal or law enforcement agencies such as police departments and law firms. Forensic scientists can specialize in areas such as forensic anthropology, forensic odontology, and crime scene examination. You could also pursue a career as a forensic medical examiner, but it would require furthering your studies in the area of medicine.
7. Biology Careers In Government and Policy-Making
In this field, you would work closely with policy makers, government agencies, and political groups to give recommendations in your field of expertise. This type of job requires significant experience and, in some cases, a Ph.D.
8. Biology Careers in Business
The pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion-dollar sector that needs biologists to help in research, development of new drugs, and testing.
9. Biology Careers in Economics
As a biological economist, your main role would be to assess the economic effects of biological problems such as pollution, deforestation, human interaction with the ecosystem, etc.
10. Biology Careers in Publishing and Communication
With a biology degree, you can also work in media and journalism. There is a growing demand for science writers in journalism and communication who help present science issues affecting society in an easy to understand approach.
You could also establish yourself as an expert in a given field of biology by publishing articles in science magazines, journals, and websites. Also, filmmakers and documentary makers who make biology-related films require biology professionals to help fact check and expound on the various subjects being covered in the film.
Top 8 Highest Paying Jobs for Biology Majors
As evidenced in the list below, for most of the highest-paying jobs in biology, a biology major is only an entry-level course. You will be required to pursue further education, including a certification program, post-graduate diploma, associate’s degree, a master’s degree, and/or Ph.D.
You will also notice that the most lucrative career opportunities for a biology major are in the medical field. With that said, there are some high-paying opportunities in the field of research, environment, and finance as a research scientist, medical scientist, environmental engineer, biological scientist, and so many more career opportunities.
Here are the 8 most lucrative jobs for biology majors in this career field:
A physician diagnoses and treats diseases and injuries. They also keep medical records and prescribe medication to their patients.
Education and qualifications: Being a physician is a lucrative career option for biology majors. However, to become a physician, you have to go through rigorous training. You have to join a medical school, undertake a 3-7 year residency, and join an internship program for your specialty.
Average annual income: $186,300
Dentists help patients maintain optimal dental health care and diagnose and treat any dental issues.
Education and qualifications: To become a dentist, you would need to upgrade your bachelor’s degree in biology with a medical school dentistry course.
Average annual income: $196,417
3. Nurse Practitioner
Nurse practitioners work independently or collaborate with doctors to diagnose health issues, order medical tests, and prescribe and administer medication. They also provide primary care to patients.
Education and qualifications: To become a nurse practitioner, you have to undertake specialty nursing courses and certification programs. You may also opt to undertake a post-graduate diploma in nursing.
Average annual income: $106,523
Biochemists work in the ever-evolving fields of biotechnology and biomedical research to develop new products and improve existing ones. A background in biological science helps biochemists understand the effects of the various products on the human body.
Education and qualifications: You will require to do a master’s and Ph.D. in biochemistry.
Average annual income: $94,490
5. Financial Analysts
This may seem like a far-fetched job opportunity for a biology major, but it is lucrative. Financial analysts with specialty training in biotechnology, medical products, health services, energy and conservation, and pharmaceuticals are highly sought after. Their clients or employers rely on them to evaluate stocks, bonds, and other investment opportunities.
Education and qualifications: To become a financial analyst in the field of biology, you may require to double up your bachelor’s degree with a finance course and to get practical skills in the stock market.
Average annual income: $81,590
6. Genetic Counselor
The main role of a genetic counselor is to guide individuals undergoing genetic testing. They offer to counsel, undertake the testing, and explain to the clients the results. Genetic counselors need strong knowledge in the fields of genomics and biotechnology.
Education and qualifications. You will need a master’s degree in genetics or genetic counseling.
Average annual income: $80,860
Microbiologists primarily work in laboratories to study lifeforms such as bacteria, fungus, and algae.
Education and qualifications: A career as a microbiologist is one of the most lucrative, jobs for masters in microbiology degree majors. As a microbiologist, you can work in pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and government agencies.
Average annual income: $70,000
8. Environment Scientist
The main role of an environmental scientist is to conduct research whose results help to protect the environment and promote a healthy ecosystem.
Education and qualification. This is an entry-level but lucrative job in the science career field that requires a bachelor’s degree in biology. However, you can further your studies in the area to increase your knowledge level and income capabilities.
Average annual income: $69,400
Well-Paying Entry Level Jobs for a Biology Degree
While most of the above high-paying jobs for biology graduates may seem to have steep qualification requirements, you can still find a well-paying entry-level biology job that does not require experience or further studies. Below is a look at the top 8 well-paying entry-level jobs for biology graduates.
1. Research Assistant
Biological research assistants work with a medical scientist and biological scientist to collect and prepare biological research samples such as food, blood, and bacteria. A research assistant also helps in other research capacities, including maintaining equipment, going to the field to collect samples, and documenting research findings. You can find career opportunities to work as a research assistant on a full-time, part-time, or per-project basis.
Average wage: $15.88 per hour
2. Biology Teacher
Another easily accessible job opportunity for biology majors is as a high school biology teacher. Your role as a health educator would be to educate students about the fundamentals of biology as per the curriculum. This job requires excellent communication and time-management skills. Most states require that you get a teaching license or certification.
Average annual income: $45,516
3. Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
A pharmaceutical sales representative is one of the most lucrative entry-level jobs for biology majors. Their primary role is to sell new medications to doctors and other medical professionals to prescribe to their patients. It requires excellent communication and sales skills. You also require a working knowledge of pharmacology. It is an ideal career option if you are interested in the business side of medicine.
Average annual income: $71,613
4. Physician Assistant
Physician assistants serve as personal assistants to doctors. They serve as the liaison between the physician and medical facilities that the physician works with. In the cases where a physician has a private practice, the assistant serves as the liaison between the physician and patients. They book appointments and follow-up calls with the patients.
This position requires excellent communication, interpersonal, and organization skills.
Average annual income: $52,553
5. Teaching Laboratory Technician
A teaching laboratory technician works in educational institutions such as high schools, colleges and universities to support teachers’ overseeing experiments. They ensure lab equipment safety, prepare the equipment needed for a specific experiment, and keep equipment records.
They also liaise with the teaching staff about timetables and upcoming projects and assist students with their research projects. You require excellent organization skills and strong scientific knowledge for this job as a health educator.
Average annual income: $29 721
6. Conservation Scientist
As a conservation scientist, you would be tasked with developing technologies and solutions for environmental conservation. With experience and further studies, conservation scientists can also serve in policy making boards to provide recommendations pertaining to climate and the environment.
Average annual income: $64,532
7. Content Writer
There is a growing demand for science writers in digital and print media. Content writers are tasked with the responsibility of researching and writing about complex science-related topics in a factual yet easy to understand manner.
You can find career opportunities to work as a part-time, full-time, or freelance science writer for media houses, magazines, websites, content marketing agencies, or independent organizations. Some companies require you to go to their office, while others offer an option to work remotely. Some science content writers make $50,000 and above per year.
Average wage: $17.29 per hour
8. Pharmacy Technician
Pharmacy technicians help in the overall operations of a pharmacy. They work closely with pharmacists to organize and keep an inventory of medical supplies. Under the pharmacist’s direct supervision, they can also be tasked with processing prescriptions and dispensing medication. With additional training, a pharmacy technician can become a pharmacist.
Average annual income: $31,000
9. Graduate Teaching Assistant
A graduate teaching assistant acts as a personal assistant for a university lecturer or professor. They help to mentor and tutor students undertaking undergraduate biology courses.
They also help the lecture in issuing and marking exams and assignments, conducting lab sessions, facilitating study groups, grading papers, and preparing lectures for those pursuing an undergraduate degree.
For this job, you require a good understanding of the course content and excellent communication skills.
Average annual income: $38,000
10. Occupation Health Specialist
Occupation health specialists assess working conditions and procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of employees. These professionals can work in a wide range of industries, including insurance companies, medical facilities, nursing homes, government agencies, and companies. You may require additional training in the various occupational health standards.
Average annual income: $75,000
How to Find a Job with a Biology Degree
Below are some tips for finding a biology job.
Check Job Boards Frequently
Regularly check relevant job sites such as Glassdoor, Indeed, and Monster for advertised positions that would be a good fit for you. Also, check science-specific job boards such as Science Careers, Sciences Jobs, and Biology jobs.
Network with People Who Have Successful Careers in Biology
You can find them through LinkedIn, referrals, or industry-related events. They might know of opportunities that you would be suited for. They may also help you understand the industry and career field as they provide valuable information for career planning and career growth. You may also ask your professor to connect you with alumni who are doing well in the industry.
Focus Your Search on Your Area of Interest
Since the opportunities in the field of biology are unlimited, you want to develop a strategy for finding the most suitable jobs that align with your qualifications, interests, and career growth projection. For example, if you have an advanced degree in molecular biology, you will probably not be interested in the financial sector.
Fine Tune Your CV
Take your time to compile your qualifications, experience, and skills in a properly formatted CV. This will give a potential employer an idea about the value you will bring to the company once hired.
Cast Your Net Wide
Apply to as many suitable openings as possible to increase your chances of landing an opportunity. Avoid sending a template application – take time to customize each cover letter to each job posting.
Critical Skills Required for People Pursuing a Job in Biology
There are key skills that are critical to getting a job in biology and building a long-lasting career. While the skills required may vary from one job to another, below are the vital skills for all biology-related jobs:
- Communication skill both presentation and writing skills
- Basic IT and computer literacy
- Data analysis
- Critical thinking
- Ability to work in teams
- Project management
- Time management
- Organization skills
- Observation skills
- Attention to details
How to Get Work Experience in Biology Careers
Work experience is critical for landing a job. It gives you a competitive edge and negotiating power for better pay. It also shows that you are committed to developing practical skills in your career.
Work experience also helps you clarify if you want to go into a given field of biology. Through being in the work environment of your desired career field and doing the day-to-day tasks that pertain to the given position, you will be able to determine if it is something you would like to keep pursuing.
Some biology degree courses require that you undertake at least a year’s internship. With others, you may get a placement in different organizations after graduating. If you do not have access to any of these opportunities, consider volunteering or working part-time.
Tips for Interviewing for a Job in Biology
Below are some tips to help you nail your next interview for a biology job.
- Review the possible biology interview questions. Although every interview is unique, and the questions asked will depend on the particular position you are seeking, there are some commonly asked interview questions for any biology job. Search only for such, and the best ways to answer them.
- Research the company. This is not only an important step to do to pass your interview, but it gives you a glimpse into the company and helps you decide whether you want to work there. Check out the company’s website for information on what the company does, any ongoing projects, as well as its culture.
- Go through your coursework, specifically in the area you are interviewing. Ensure you have all the working knowledge about the specific area at your fingertips.
- Show up in time for the interview. Plan your time carefully to ensure you arrive at least 20 minutes earlier. If you have never been to your interview location before, map up the route you will use with the help of Google maps and leave early enough to allow some time in case you miss the directions.
- Endeavor to make a first good impression on the interviewing panel. Dress appropriately, take time to compose yourself before entering the interview room and present your authentic self.
Tips for Growing in Your Career in Biology
As you continue to work in biology, you will get a good understanding of the industry. Identify what you are most interested in in your area or work or other related fields.
Individually or with the help of a career coach or mentor, come up with a career plan. Begin to develop the necessary skills and qualifications to move you to the next level professionally.
Pursue further studies in your specialty area and worked to obtain a more advanced degree if required. Most biology graduates find it beneficial to pursue a post-graduate course either in the area they are already working in or in an area they would like to move to. The higher level of education equips them with more knowledge and skills. In some cases, a post-graduate course is a qualification for certification in a given field.
Ensure to carefully research the post-graduate course you would like to pursue to ascertain that it will be beneficial for your career growth. Some universities offer an integrated master’s degree, which, if you qualify, allows you to complete the master’s degree within a year of graduating with your bachelor’s degree in biology.
Look out for and apply for open job opportunities that will offer you career growth and better rewards financially, mentally, and emotionally. Keep networking with other people in the industry. And stay updated with the upcoming trends in the industry.
Most Commons Biology Jobs FAQs
This section answers some of the most common biology job FAQs concisely.
What are the most common hands-on biology careers?
Generally, biology careers are hands-on, including jobs as technicians, biologists, physicians, nurses, zoologists, teaching assistants, research assists, etc. However, some biology careers are communication-based such as pharmaceutical sales representatives, teaching, and biology jobs in policy-making and advisory.
What are the most common lab-based careers?
Several biology jobs are lab-based, including biochemists, biologists, biotechnologists, lab technicians, forensic science technicians, food scientists, etc. With lab-based careers, you will spend most of the time in the lab, but you might get a few opportunities to go to the field to collect samples.
What are some emerging fields of work for biology majors that may become lucrative?
An emerging field of interest in biology is systems biology: Systems biology’s main premise is looking at life science in a holistic approach, therefore designing an all-encompassing approach to biology-related issues. Systems biology can be applied in different biology-related fields, including biotechnology, medicine, and research.
What should you look for in a workplace environment and a long-term career?
A good job goes beyond a job description that fits well with your skill and good pay. It also encompasses a favorable work environment. When evaluating whether a company is a good fit for you and your long-term care goals, consider the following:
- Are the company’s values in alignment with yours?
- Is the company’s culture a good fit for you? For instance, consider whether you like working in a company with a conservative or relaxed culture.
- Are your colleges easy to work with?
- Are there opportunities for growth and learning? Does the company offer training and opportunities to attend industry-related events?
- Is the company’s management supportive?
- Does your role equip you with transferable skills?
- Does your role challenge you positively?
Get clear about the values, work culture, and opportunities you would like a dream company to offer. When searching for a job, go through its website to find out about their culture, values, work environment, and employee appraisal procedures.
Clearly look through the job posting you are applying for to confirm its job description and terms of work. Look out for provisions on working time, salary, organizational management hierarchy, etc. At the interview, ask for any clarifications on any matters that are not clear.
There you have it. Whether you are considering a biology course or just graduated with a Bachelor’s in biology, there are many well-paying job opportunities for you to consider.
While you will need to pursue further education with some, others do not require any further education experience. Determine which area of biology you would like to work in and find open positions you can apply for.