20 Careers You Can Pursue with a Biology Degree
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 will be spending the next 23 years confined to a laboratory all day long.
When students begin their first year in university or college, they are excited about their future as they are consumed by every aspect of their biology major, thinking about the first steps they will take after completing their postsecondary studies. However, as the 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.
A biologist is a scientist who applies everything he or she has learned in order to study organisms – humans, animals, plants and bacteria – and their relationship to our environment. The purpose is to better understand how the body functions and how external factors can affect every organism. Your findings as a biologist can lead to new treatments for a diverse array of diseases and the sustaining of natural resources.
Biologists can specialise in multiple areas, including wildlife, marine, botany and much more. Also, it is likely that a biologist’s first employment gig will be that of a graduate job.
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.
Who doesn’t want to work with animals when you’re a kid? Elephants, lions, monkeys and hyenas – they’re all so adorable. 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 behaviours as well as the impacts that humans can have on their natural habitats.
4. Registered Nurse
There is an old joke about two Frenchmen. One man says to the other, ‘It’s time to put that theory into practice’. The other responds, ‘Only if we can put that practice into theory’.
When it comes to your biology degree, you have studied everything there is to learn, from textbooks to case studies to 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
Although you will likely be required to finish a doctorate degree if you wish to advance to the position of pharmacist, a biology degree – associate’s or bachelor’s – qualifies you for several pharmacy-related jobs, including that of a pharmacy technician.
This is an employment opportunity that assists pharmacists in organising, measuring, labelling, packaging and dispensing prescription medicines in a hospital or retail setting.
We guarantee that, when you were six years old, you shouted to the heavens that you want to be a phlebotomist when you grew up. Well, 20 years later, and you are about to enter this field, which is in part because of your desire to find careers in biology.
For the uninitiated, a phlebotomist uses venepuncture – 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
Similar to that of a registered nurse, a respiratory therapist uses their education in biology and transfers it to the area of respiratory therapy.
While you will 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 is from an emergency situation (heart attack or drowning) or a chronic respiratory disease (asthma or emphysema).
After years of studying the attributes of living organisms, you will become instrumental to pharmacology.
Unsure what this is aside from the fact you heard it on CSI or Law and Order? 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
Sure, you will become the enemy to thousands of teenagers throughout your multiyear teaching career, but being a high school teacher who specialises in biology is a great career choice to make.
Superb pay, tremendous benefits, nine months off and all the pecuniary perks of being a teacher – what more could you ask for in a job? Just be sure you buy army protection and an additional set of tyres – you will be the target of so many perturbed teens!
10. Environmental Scientist/Engineer
Environmental scientists, also identified as environmental engineers, utilise the principles of biology, chemistry and engineering to locate and develop solutions to common environmental issues. These include but are not limited to 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. Moreover, environmental scientists can start their own environmental inspections business.
11. Quality Control Technician
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 globalised.
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
When you wonder what to do with a biology degree, you should consider the agriculture industry. Food companies, farms and everything in between are needing agricultural technicians.
In addition to establishing lab equipment and maintaining the technology used in daily operations, agricultural technicians are also 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
Financial analysts contend that the biotech industry is in a bubble. While this might be true, there is still plenty of work available for the position of a biomedical engineer.
This job consists of designing biomedical equipment, 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.
Hydrologists will primarily work with water, but their daily tasks are essential to ensuring that the water we consume is safe. Hydrologists will measure the properties of bodies of water, collect water samples, test for specific properties and analyse data to determine if there is pollution, drought or erosion.
15. Medical Manager
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
Physician assistants will 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 Counsellor
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
A biologist can become an attorney as long as they attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor degree. However, if you are uninterested in becoming a lawyer, you can also serve as a legal specialist.
Many law practices that specialise in patent and intellectual property rely on biologists to understand the science of drugs, medical instruments and biotechnology products. Environmental lawyers will get involved in environmental projects, while medical malpractice lawyers will need to analyse medical interventions.
19. Higher Education Lecturer
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 will 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.
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.
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 paycheque 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 is important to realise now that the world is your oyster and everything can come up roses because you will find a career.