What Can You Do with a Biology Degree?

According to Live Science, the term biology involves the study of life. The Greek term “bios” means life, while “logos” refers to finding meaning or studying something. A biologist is a person who studies the distribution, evolution, function, growth, origin, and structure of living things. Considering how broad the term biology is, it’s not surprising that there are many different subtypes of biology.

Biochemistry, for example, focuses on the material substances which make up all living things, while cellular biology deals with the underlying cellular components and functioning. Evolutionary biology examines the origin of life and changes over time. Molecular biology concentrates on the smaller constituent parts of everything that lives. Botany is the study of agriculture and plants, while ecology sits at the interaction between living organisms and their environment. Still other subfields of the discipline include genetics (inherited diseases and genetic patterns), physiology (the investigation of functioning of living organisms), and zoology (the study of animal behavior).

For those interested in a career that studies life, earning a degree in biology can be an ideal entry-level credential. Below are ten potential careers in science to consider. Please note that in order to present the most reliable salary and job growth projections, this list was limited to scientific occupations with detailed data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2018).

Arizona State University
Biological Sciences (BS)
Biochemistry (BS)
University of Cincinnati Online
BS - Medical Laboratory Science (MLT/CLT Cert Required)
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Agricultural and Food Science Technician

In this entry-level role, professionals assist food and agricultural scientists by completing tasks such as analyzing and measuring the quality of agricultural products and food. They work on a farm or ranch or in a greenhouse, laboratory, office, or processing plant. Specific duties include operating farm equipment, ensuring that agricultural production areas meet the requirements for scientific testing, measuring the ingredients of animal feed, and analyzing the chemical properties of food.

People in this position often choose a specialization in fields such as agricultural chemicals, animal health, farm machinery, fertilizers, or processing technology. Most agricultural and food science technicians have an associate degree.

  • Salary average: $40,470
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $23,930, 50th (median) $37,550, 90th $61,450
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 6 percent

Anthropologists and Archeologists

Anthropologists and archeologists are responsible for studying the behavior, development, and origin of humans. This involves examining the archeological remains, culture, language, and physical characteristics of people worldwide. Professionals in this field might travel for several months at a time for fieldwork research, but most anthropologists and archeologists work for consulting firms, the government, or a research organization.

This position requires the minimum of a master’s degree and sometimes a doctorate. Specific job duties include planning social research, preparing reports and presenting findings, recording observations from fieldwork, and customizing the collection of data according to the region studied.

  • Salary average: $66,440
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $36,910, 50th (median) $63,190, 90th $99,590
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 4 percent

Atmospheric Scientists and Meteorologists

Although not strictly related to biology, the strong scientific background imparted by a degree in the biological sciences could be an entry-level degree in understanding the macro-forces which impact life on earth.

This career involves studying the climate and weather to better understand how they affect the earth as well as human activity. The general public depends on atmospheric scientists and meteorologists to prepare them for weather emergencies such as hurricanes, floods, and blizzards. Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists occasionally complete outdoor fieldwork. One of the primary duties of this job is to measure the atmospheric pressure, dew point, humidity, temperature, wind speed, and other atmospheric properties.

A bachelor’s degree is the typical entry-level requirement for this role, although a master’s or doctorate is usually needed for research-based positions. Atmospheric scientists and meteorologists (or space scientists) use computer models to analyze data, conduct research to better understand weather patterns, and generate current weather reports, among many other duties.

  • Salary average: $94,840
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $51,840, 50th (median) $92,460, 90th $140,830
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 12 percent

Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists study physical and chemical principles of living things as well as biological processes. This includes cell development, disease, growth, and hereditary. Most people in this position work in a laboratory or office.

For some positions, bachelor or master’s degrees may qualify, however, a doctoral degree is expected for most positions, especially independent research and development. Some of the many duties of a biochemist or biophysicist include planning and conducting complex research projects, managing a team of laboratory technicians, writing grant applications to secure funding, and analyzing, isolating, and synthesizing DNA, fats, proteins, and other types of molecules.

  • Salary average: $94,340
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $45,000, 50th (median) $82,180, 90th $158,410
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 11 percent

Chemical Technicians

A chemical technician helps chemical engineers and chemists develop, produce, research, and test chemical processes and products. Most work is conducted in a laboratory or manufacturing facility. Chemical technicians will conduct experiments if they work in a laboratory or monitor the process of production if they worked in a manufacturing facility.

The position of a chemical technician is entry-level and requires a minimum of an associate degree. The specific duties of chemical technicians are setting up laboratory equipment and keeping it in good repair, preparing chemical solutions, determining the problem with malfunctioning equipment, and conducting and interpreting results of physical and chemical experiments.

  • Salary average: $49,770
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $27,730, 50th (median) $45,840, 90th $76,930
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 4 percent

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

Professionals in this position are responsible for managing the quality of natural resources, including rangelands, forests, and parks. Most people in this occupation work for social advocacy organizations, private landowners, or for city, state, or federal government.

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. Specifically, conservation scientists and foresters negotiate land use contracts, establish plans to manage the resources of forest lands, and oversee conservation efforts. These duties are only a small representation of what is expected.

  • Salary average: $65,130
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $37,270, 50th (median) $61,810, 90th $82,400
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 6 percent

Epidemiologists

Epidemiologists are public health officials who determine the causes and patterns of diseases and injuries affecting humans. Their goal is to reduce negative health outcomes through community education, health policy, and research. They typically work in a laboratory, in an office for a local or state government health department, in a hospital, or at a university or college.

Epidemiologists usually have a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in public health. Some of their duties include planning and directing research studies of public health issues, managing public health programs, and communicating your research findings to the public, policymakers, and healthcare practitioners.

  • Salary average: $77,720
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $46,870, 50th (median) $70,820, 90th $114,510
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 9 percent

Medical Scientists

The primary mission of medical scientists is to improve human health. They are frequently involved in clinical trials and other types of investigation methods. Medical scientists typically work in an office or laboratory.

It is common for them to have a doctoral degree in biology or another type of life science, but they have the option of earning a medical degree in place of or in addition to a doctorate in biology. Common examples of duties include designing and carrying out research studies on human diseases and methods of prevention, creating and testing medical devices, helping the public to avoid contamination from contagious disease, and writing research grant proposals.

  • Salary average: $95,000
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $44,550, 50th (median) $80,530, 90th $159,570
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 13 percent

Microbiologists

The role of a microbiologist is to study algae, bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and other bacteria to gain an understanding of how these tiny organisms grow and interact within their natural environment. Most microbiologists work in an office or laboratory, where they spend most of their time conducting scientific experiments.

While the entry-level requirement is a bachelor’s degree, microbiologists should expect to earn their doctorate if they are interested in pursuing independent research at a college or university. Some of their specific job duties include isolating bacteria cultures, supervising biological technicians in their duties, and classifying microorganisms taken from animals, humans, and plants.

  • Salary average: $76,850
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $39,480, 50th (median) $66,850, 90th $128,890
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 8 percent

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

The main function of zoologists and wildlife biologists is to study animals and wildlife to understand how they interact with their environment. They study animal behavior, their physical characteristics, and the impact of human actions on natural and wildlife habitats. They likely work outdoors, as well as in an office and laboratory.

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum educational credential for these positions. However, zoologists and wildlife biologists should earn a master’s degree for scientific or higher-level investigative work or a doctorate to conduct independent research. Typical duties include collecting specimens and biological data for analysis, developing and conducting animal studies, and implementing programs to reduce the impact of human behavior on animals.

  • Salary average: $64,890
  • Salary percentiles: 10th $39,150, 50th (median) $60,520, 90th $98,540
  • Projected growth in job openings in the U.S., 2016-26: 8 percent