What can you do with a biology degree?
Biology is a science that studies life, a very broad field giving students with a biology degree numerous options when it comes to their future career path. However, the path to success is full of challenges, and the biggest one is mastering a biology major, the main requirement for all modern jobs in this field.
Is biology a hard major?
Biology indeed is a hard major, just like any other scientific discipline. It is a very serious field that demands extensive prior knowledge from high school, as well as an unwavering focus on further training. Obviously, the main requirement is to love biology, because studying this science requires dedication and a lot of sacrifice. If you have the ambition, knowledge and talent for this science, you will not struggle with lectures, because you will never lose sight of your goal.
Biology is a very broad field that leaves one plenty of room to specialize in specific areas, such as zoology or microbiology. However, the biology major curriculum also involves mastering areas such as: chemistry, humanities and social sciences. Once you have mastered the basics, you can focus on specific fields, such as cellular biology or interdisciplinary biology. Of course, studying biology does not only include theory, but additional training through scientific papers as well. The ultimate goal is to acquire knowledge that will enable you to continue with your scientific work or find a job immediately after graduation.
Types of biology degree
During studies, you will have to decide which field of biology you want to focus on. Some of the available options include:
- General Biology– provides general knowledge of biology and covers topics such as human body, and cellular biology.
- Biomedical Engineering – a very modern field that combines the latest technological achievements and medicine. Bioengineers create and improve technological aids used in treatment.
- Microbiology – studies microorganisms that can only be seen under a microscope.
- Botany – science of plant life, which also studies fungi (mycology) and algae (phycology).
- Zoology – perhaps the most widely-known branch of biology, zoology studies and classifies the animal kingdom (both living and extinct). It studies the genetics, behavior, anatomy, and other parameters of animal life.
- Environmental Studies – a multidisciplinary academic field that studies the relationship between nature and people. Possessing this degree opens the door to numerous other environmental fields, such as environmental planning and management.
- Marine Biology – studies marine life from the composition of water to plant and animal species and their interaction with the environment.
- Molecular Biology – studies biological processes at the molecular level like proteins and genes. This branch of biology seeks to better understand cells and their functioning in order to discover more efficient ways to diagnose diseases and synthesize more effective drugs to treat them.
These are just some of the available career paths when it comes to a biology degree. The American education system, primarily higher education, gives students complete freedom in choosing their major and minor. This way a bachelor’s and master’s degree enables students to acquire specific knowledge which, in turn, allows for advanced approaches in biology or other fields.
Careers in biology
Through their biology programs, colleges and universities in the USA provide general and specific knowledge necessary to pursue a successful career. Biology graduates can immediately find a job after graduation, or continue their training and specialize in a specific field. Certain fields demand further training and the acquisition of additional diplomas and certificates.
Biology is special because, in addition to knowledge, it is desirable to possess other qualities, such as: research spirit, critical thinking, presentation skills (especially if you decide to pursue a career in education or a job that entails public appearances), organizational skills, etc. All this is biology, but depending on the field of study, different jobs will require different qualities and levels of knowledge.
Although these are related fields, they often differ significantly and therefore require different skill sets, e.g. communication skills. Simply put, a teacher who teaches children, and a zoologist who studies animals in their natural habitat will not possess the same knowledge and skills. Therefore, it is important to carefully study all the different options and choose what you really like.
This is important, because every branch of biology requires dedication. Your effort will eventually pay off, because a biology degree will allow you to do extremely dynamic jobs, such as:
Biologists analyze living organisms in controlled conditions in order to answer many important questions. One can specialize in certain fields, such as agriculture, medicine, different industries, etc. Depending on your interests, as a biology scientist, you can work in the food industry, pharmaceutical companies, zoos, even media (e.g. scientific shows, blogs, or wildlife magazines).
Biology teachers have the important role of introducing children to the ways of nature and how it works. Their job is to familiarize students with science through engaging experiments, studies, and observation of the world around us.
Every next level of education, such as high school science, explains the living world in more detail. The highest level of educational work includes teaching in college and university, where professors help students to specialize in a specific field. It is a very rewarding job for people who enjoy teaching and interacting with students.
As a clinical pharmacologist, you will be involved in the research, development and quality control of pharmaceutical drugs. This requires knowledge of several branches of biology, including genetics, zoology, botany, etc. The aim is to create medicines that will help treat patients, which is a process carried out through clinical trials.
This profession offers a wide range of job positions, including healthcare, i.e. working with hospital patients, research work in institutes or pharmaceutical companies, and work in the military. A clinical pharmacologist is a very responsible position that requires continuing education in order to always be up-to-date with the latest scientific methods.
If you love nature and want to contribute to its preservation, a profession related to ecology is certainly the right choice. Our planet is faced with numerous challenges that affect the natural environment. The task of an ecologist is to study the ecosystems of a certain area, relationships between the living organisms, and human impact on the environment.
Although the first that comes to mind when environmental science is mentioned is the protection of the environment from negative influences, such as pollution, it is also important to monitor the behavior of all living organisms. By classifying animals, plants and other organisms, scientists obtain a complete picture of a certain environment, which enables them to make informed decisions. Thus, the environment in a certain area can be threatened by the appearance of a new plant of animal species the spreading of which disturbs the natural balance (e.g. appearance of an aggressive fish species in the river).
Unfortunately, with industrial development came the biggest threats to the environment, such as pollution, deforestation, urbanization, and the expansion of cities which has destroyed natural habitats of plant and animal species. For all these reasons, environmental scientists are highly sought-after, both in various environmental organizations, government institutions, and companies associated with green technologies and environmentalism.
If you have ever watched any police procedural, then you have an idea of what a forensic scientist does. Forensic science, i.e. criminalistics involves collecting, examining and analyzing crime scene evidence. Due to the complexity of the process, forensic scientists often specialize in a certain area, like finding evidence (e.g. traces of blood), or data analysis in the laboratory.
Because their job entails crime investigation, forensic scientists commonly work in government institutions, such as the police, FBI, CIA, but also in private laboratories, or research centers. It is a very responsible job that requires extensive knowledge, patience, and mental strength.
Biology offers a wide range of jobs and excellent salary
What else can you do with a biology degree? In addition to the engaging jobs mentioned above, there are numerous other options available to biology students. You may also be interested in one of the following professions after graduation:
- Physician assistant
- Physical therapist
- Biological technician
- Genetic counselors
- Pharmaceutical sales representative
Biology allows you to choose between a variety of professions, and it can also be successfully combined with other scientific disciplines. What all these career opportunities have in common is that biology experts are in high demand on the job market in the U.S. and around the world. Even entry level positions are well-paid, while experts, especially in the pharmaceutical industry have an excellent annual salary, as well as those with extensive work experience.
Of course, those salaries are very well-deserved, because these professions carry a lot of responsibility, both toward the environment, and toward other people. If you are a dedicated nature lover and want to use your knowledge to help the environment, then a biology degree is an excellent choice.