Biology is a fascinating field to study and even attain a career in.
Studying the molecular nature, physiological mechanisms, evolution, and physical structure of life and living organisms is compelling, especially if you’re able to earn a living doing this. And believe it or not, there is a career in this area, but don’t think you’ll be spending the next 23 years confined to a laboratory all day long.
When students begin their first year in university or college, they’re excited about their future as they’re consumed by every aspect of their biology major, thinking about the first steps they will take after completing their postsecondary studies. However, as their fourth year approaches, students start to wonder if there are jobs involving biology, creating consternation and fear of the future.
Is this concern justified? No, because there are plenty of careers with a biology degree that do not contain the job title “biologist”. You don’t even need to be involved in science to land a job.
Don’t believe it? Here is a list of professions you can pursue with a biology degree.
Average salary: $82,530
A biologist is a scientist who applies everything they have learned in order to study living organisms — humans, animals, plants and bacteria — and their relationship to our environment.
Their aim is to better understand how the body functions and how external factors can affect every organism, and their findings can lead to new treatments for a diverse array of diseases and the sustaining of natural resources.
Average salary: $66,750
Botanists are plant explorers. They study environmental impacts (such as pollution, acid rain and soil degradation) on plants. With their research, they publish conclusions that propose environmental protections for plant life.
Moreover, botanists can discover new types of plants, examine their parts, and potentially generate new uses for these plants that could lead to multiple health benefits.
Average salary: $64,650
After a couple of viewings of The Lion King, you want to save the Simbas of the world. So, perhaps zoology is your career calling — unfortunately, you won’t be able to communicate with these animals à la Dr Dolittle!
Zoologists study animals and their ecosystems and learn about their physical traits and behaviors as well as the impacts that humans can have on their natural habitats.
4. Registered nurse
Average salary: $77,600
When it comes to your biology degree, you have studied everything there is to learn, from textbooks to case studies and classroom lectures. Well, now is the time to apply all that study to real-world aspects of human biology.
What better way to use this science than as a registered nurse at a hospital or medical clinic alongside doctors and other healthcare professionals?
5. Pharmacy technician
Average salary: $36,740
Although you’ll likely be required to finish a doctorate degree if you wish to advance to the position of pharmacist, a biology degree — whether an associate or a bachelor’s degree — qualifies you for several pharmacy-related jobs, including that of a pharmacy technician.
This is an employment opportunity that assists pharmacists in organizing, measuring, labeling, packaging and dispensing prescription medicines in a hospital or retail setting.
Average salary: $37,380
A phlebotomist uses venipuncture — an incision in the vein to draw blood — to collect blood samples for a whole host of reasons, from transfusions to testing to research. If you’re nervous around needles and if blood makes you ill, then perhaps this is not the job for you. If they don’t, then phlebotomist is great for new graduates.
7. Respiratory therapist
Average salary: $61,830
Respiratory therapists use their education in biology and transfer it to the area of respiratory therapy.
While you’ll need additional training in this subject, your biology degree can be a tremendous aid in treating and caring for patients who have difficulty breathing, whether it’s from an emergency situation (heart attack or drowning) or a chronic respiratory disease (asthma or emphysema).
Average salary: $95,310
A pharmacologist will study toxicology and drugs and their effects on the human body.
For the most part, you will attempt to understand how drugs and other toxic substances are absorbed into the human system and how the body will medically react to each ingredient.
9. High school teacher
Average salary: $61,820
Sure, you will become the enemy to thousands of teenagers throughout your multiyear teaching career, but being a high school teacher who specializes in biology is a great career choice to make.
Superb pay, tremendous benefits and all the pecuniary perks of being a teacher — what more could you ask for in a job?
10. Environmental scientist
Average salary: $76,530
Environmental scientists, also identified as environmental engineers, utilize the principles of biology, chemistry, and engineering to locate and develop solutions to common environmental issues. These include recycling, public health, air pollution control, waste disposal and water.
Many of these experts will also work with public policy makers to devise plans that address common issues. They will further partner with businesses to ensure they either follow government regulations or improve their own practices.
11. Quality control technician
Average salary: $49,030
Quality control is of the utmost importance for companies in most industries, including food and pharmaceuticals. Now more than ever, quality control technicians are in immense demand — and it is only ballooning as the economy becomes more globalized.
So, this is your opportunity to put many of your biology skills to real-life situations by aiding businesses to test the effectiveness, purity, and quality of their products. You can also find these jobs in the public sector, too.
12. Agricultural technician
Average salary: $40,430
In addition to establishing lab equipment and maintaining the technology used in daily operations, agricultural technicians are tasked with collecting samples from crops and animals. They also prepare samples for data recording and assist scientists in conducting experiments.
This position gives you the best of both worlds: working directly with nature and using your craft.
13. Biomedical engineer
Average salary: $97,410
This job consists of designing biomedical equipment, and working with machines to diagnose medical problems, develop artificial intelligence organs and offer technical support for biomedical devices. If that sounds like a tough and complicated job, then you would be right.
Average salary: $84,030
Hydrologists will primarily work with water, but their daily tasks are essential to ensuring that the water we consume is safe. They will measure the properties of bodies of water, collect water samples, test for specific properties, and analyze data to determine if there is pollution, drought or erosion.
15. Medical manager
Average salary: $101,340
Otherwise known as healthcare administrators, medical managers typically take care of an entire practice, department, clinical area, or facility. This role will consist of planning, administrating, directing, and coordinating with medical and health services — internally and externally.
16. Physician assistant
Average salary: $121,530
Physician assistants work with licensed physicians. Under their supervision, physician assistants will assess, diagnose, and treat patients. Moreover, they will treat small wounds, interpret medical tests, and prepare casts.
Typically, if a professional physician is looking after someone else, then the physician assistant will be the first line of medical care, particularly in rural and underserved areas.
17. Genetic counselor
Average salary: $80,150
The genetic counsellor is an integral member of a healthcare team, in addition to offering risk assessment, education and support to families that could potentially be at risk for or diagnosed with multiple inherited conditions. Also, these professionals will act as patient advocates, as well as assess genetic testing and proffer supportive counselling.
18. Legal specialist
Average salary: $127,990
A biologist can become an attorney as long as they attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor degree. However, if you’re uninterested in becoming a lawyer, you can also serve as a legal specialist.
Many law practices that specialize in patent and intellectual property rely on biologists to understand the science of drugs, medical instruments, and biotechnology products. Environmental lawyers, meanwhile, will get involved in environmental projects, while medical malpractice lawyers will need to analyze medical interventions.
Average salary: $79,640
A higher education lecturer will have the same role as a high school teacher, except your role will be to teach biology and other academic subjects to undergraduate and postgraduate students who are over 18.
In this job, you’ll be required to hold tutorials, host seminars, have lectures and perform fieldwork. Also, in this technologically advanced society, you’ll potentially have a role in e-learning, too.
Average salary: $79,260
Can you envision yourself working with fungi, bacteria, algae, and viruses? Well, that’s the role of a microbiologist, who will attempt to understand how these organisms form, live, grow and interact with their environments.
This is a critical job amid exploding population growth, tumbling vaccination rates, and increasing risks of a health epidemic that could send the world into a panic.
21. Fish and game warden
Average salary: $60,730
If you’re a biology grad craving some adventure in one of the best criminal justice jobs in the world, trade in your lab coat for a uniform and a really cool hat. Fish and game wardens act as guardians of wildlife and their natural habitats. This includes forests, mountains and lakes, as well as campgrounds and parks.
You’ll issue licenses and permits, and enforce all boating, fishing, and hunting laws. Fish and game wardens conduct search and rescue operations, investigate accidents, and track down poachers. Most state and federal jobs will require additional academy training for investigation techniques, self-defence, arrest procedures and other areas of law enforcement.
Average salary: $294,520
A biology degree is the perfect foundation for a variety of careers in the medical field, including as a general or specialist surgeon. With coursework focused on human biology, you’ll be well-prepared for a job that requires precise knowledge of anatomy and the complex processes of the human body.
Surgeons repair injuries and treat diseases through precise operations that require a steady hand, critical thinking skills, intense concentration and a high stress tolerance. While it takes a lot of hard work and additional schooling, you’ll be rewarded for your perseverance by landing one of the highest paid jobs in the US.
23. Pharmaceutical sales representative
Average salary: $94,840
A sales job may not seem the obvious choice, but it’s one of the more lucrative careers in biology. Pharmaceutical sales representatives work for manufacturers and distributors and must know their products inside and out. Your biology degree can help you communicate effectively with healthcare providers, explaining how each pharmaceutical product works, what conditions it treats, and how it compares to alternate or competitor drugs.
Pandemic-era universities have given most students a crash course in remote learning and video conferencing. Those added skills in virtual communication will serve you well, as a recent study found that 87% of healthcare providers now prefer virtual meetings with sales reps at least part of the time.
24. Occupational therapist
Average salary: $85,570
If you’re looking for an emotionally rewarding job, consider a career as an occupational therapist. Through physical exercises, tasks, and carefully designed activities, you can help injured or ill patients return to full autonomy. You’ll also assist disabled clients with utilising their own range of abilities to successfully navigate their daily routines.
Your biology degree coursework should ideally focus on human biology and physiology. You can pursue a master’s in occupational therapy after graduation or combine your bachelor’s and master’s degrees in an accelerated program.
Average salary: $100,370
This is one of the top jobs for pet lovers, and veterinarians need all their patient, intuitive understanding of dogs, cats and other domesticated animals. Whether at an office, clinic, animal hospital or farm, you’ll be spending a lot of time with your four-legged friends for diagnosis, testing, and treatment, as well as preventative healthcare.
A biology degree is one of the best options to land a spot in veterinary school. If you’re currently in university and considering a career as veterinarian, be sure to add chemistry and animal science coursework to your studies.
Think there aren’t enough jobs involving biology? Tempted to drop out of university or, at the very least, quit your program?
Well, think again, because there are many careers with a biology degree that will provide you with steady work, a reliable paycheCK and a rewarding career. Can you ask for much more? Probably not.
So, as you grab your microscope and study bacteria, crack open a textbook to learn about chemical properties and come face to face with squid, it’s important to realize now that the world is your oyster and everything can come up roses because you will find a career.
Do any of these careers take your fancy? Let us know in the comments section below.
Originally published on June 8, 2019. Updated by Valerie David.