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What can I do with a Degree in Biology?

Biology, the study of life, is an all-encompassing subject and allows for degree holders to choose from a large variety of career options. Although the possibilities for what to do with a degree in biology are vast, most fit into these main categories: research, healthcare, education, science writing, administration and management, consulting, natural resource management, government, or industry. Below is a short description of some of the paths biology majors take.

Research. People who participate in research tend to be highly inquisitive, think critically, are creative problem solvers, and are persistent. People can participate in research in a variety of roles, from principle investigators to volunteer staff. Students who are perusing degrees in biology are encouraged to participate in many research opportunities in multiple fields that our department offers.

Careers in research are highly diverse, a person who chooses to enter the realm of research generally enters into either biomedical or biological research and further specializes from there. Fields within biomedical research include physiology, molecular biology, genetics, bacteriology, virology, neuroscience, immunology, kinesiology, cell biology, and many more. People who research in these fields study anything from how proteins fold to how the central nervous system is formed in development to brain damage and recovery in football injuries. Fields within biological research include ecology, conservation science, marine biology, botany, evolutionary biology, zoology, and many others.

Healthcare. Although it seems like a specialized subject, careers in health care are diverse and a degree in biology or cell biology helps prepare students for their future careers in healthcare. Careers in healthcare may or may not require additional education and can include physician, medical researcher, pharmacist, dentist, epidemiologist, physician's assistant, clinical laboratory technician, veterinarian, or genetics counselor as well as many more.

Education. Instructors who focus on the life sciences are in high demand for all levels of education from elementary to college-aged students. There are different requirements for teaching at different age levels and public/private institutions. The Department of Biology works with the College of Health and Human Services to meet the requirements for public educators in the elementary to secondary education grade levels. Students of biology may also choose to enter into alternative teaching experiences such as instructing at a university or community college, outdoor education, or public health education.

Science Writing. Students who are interested in writing as well as biology can combine both passions into a career in science writing. Careers in science writing can include writing scientific journals such as Science, Nature, or Evolution, writing articles for news magazines like Time or Wired, writing life science based text books for all levels of education, or writing for local or national newspapers. Editors of all these possible writing opportunities are also required for publishing. Science writers who can translate technical, specialized information to English for the biological publishers are in high demand as well as those who can write technical manuals for complicated biological equipment. Grant writing is also a valuable skill and a possible form of employment. Included within the realm of science writing are science illustrators. People who enjoy the life sciences and who are skilled artists may find a career in medical or scientific illustration.

Administration and Management. This category of careers involves oversight and organization of resources, people, or laboratories. Career options include grant administrator for a science funding organization like the National Institute of Health (NIH) or the American Cancer Society, safety and compliance officer, director of a professional society, lab managers for life science based research and development companies, or university administrators.

Consulting. There are many independent companies and governmental organizations that require consultations on a wide variety of biological based projects. Biologists in this field may be asked to assess possibilities of disease outbreak, environmental/habitat impacts, or soil conditions for farming locations.

Government. People who have obtained a degree in life sciences can be employed at all levels of the government from local and state to national and international. Agencies that would be possible employers are the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Park Service, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Department of Agriculture. Positions are available in natural resource management and environmental regulation that include field research, forest management, park ranger, park interpreters, water quality control, and many others. With in the realm of molecular, cell, and physiological biology positions include food safety inspectors, drug testing and development, and pathologist/evaluation and characterization of new diseases to name a few. If you would like to focus more closely on politics, a back ground in biology is valued for positions like science policy analysts, researchers, and administrators as well as for lobbyists for science, technology, and education.

Industry. Many positions that are available within the government are also offered through private companies. Industry careers generally focus on product development and testing, sales and marketing, and market research. If you have a background in biology, great communication skills, and enjoy interacting with other people positions in sales, public relations, and marketing for companies that focus on science related products are available.

Other possibilities. There are many more careers that either do not fit into one of these categories or have not been mentioned that biological knowledge would be a great asset for. Many other careers may blend biology with other specialties that can open up many different worlds; a few examples of this are environmental law (biology/law), bioinformatics (biology/computer science), biostatisticians (biology/mathematics and statistics), and astrobiology (biology/astrology). Biology offers many opportunities and pathways to future careers within and related to the subject. If you are still unsure of biology or future career paths, make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss your own personal interests and passions.



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Last modified on 08/23/13 05:00 PM
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