Biologists research and analyze living organisms and their relationship to each other and their environment. They seek to understand all aspects of living things — origin, structure, function, growth and evolution.
Careers in biology typically focus on research and development in a variety of disciplines. Fields such as medicine, microbiology and zoology are popular career paths for biologists.
A bachelor’s degree in biology is a good foundation for positions as research assistants, high school teachers or laboratory technicians. A bachelor’s degree in biology is also a popular choice for those who wish to attend medical, dental or veterinary school in the future.
Typically, a doctorate degree is required for most research and university faculty positions, but some applied research positions and product development jobs can be obtained with only a master’s degree in biology or one of its subfields.
Biologists work in a number of fields — all centering around the science of life in some shape or form. The majority of biology jobs are in research and development. Positions are most plentiful at universities, the government or privately funded laboratories. Biologists often take positions that combine aspects of other sciences — like chemistry or physics — with their biology training.
Some common areas in which biologists work include:
Study of the structure, function, behavior and evolution of animals.
Exploration of the development and life of plants, algae and fungi.
Investigation of microscopic organisms, too small to be seen by the human eye, such as bacteria.
Revolves around the chemical makeup and processes behind living things.
Investigates how cells, tissues and organisms function separately, similarly and together.
Study of marine organisms and their environment.
Explores the relationship between living things and their environment.
A scientist who studies the origins, behavior, life processes, and other characteristics of animals.
A zookeeper is responsible for the care and well-being of wild animals in zoos and parks.
Through examination of fish life cycles and habitats, a fisheries biologist is responsible for protecting and improving natural environments.
Horticulturists are scientists who study plant cultivation, or the growth and development of plants.
The different career paths one can follow with an education in biology are wide ranging and can also be quite lucrative.
Biologists’ salaries vary depending on area of specialization and work environment. According to the U.S. Department of Labor biological scientists working in federal government funded positions earned an average salary $72,146 in 2007. Broken down by specialty — microbiologists earned $87,206; geneticists, $91,470; physiologists, $100,745; zoologists, $110,456; ecologists, $76,511; and botanists, $67,218.
Many positions are driven by research funding, which depends on the economy among other factors. The U.S. Department of Labor predicts average growth for biology positions over the next decade.