What can I do with a Biological Sciences degree?

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

AREAS

Basic
Applied
Quality Control
Administration
Grant Writing

EMPLOYERS

Industry and laboratories:  pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture production, food processing and safety, environmental
Private research institutions
Public health departments
State and federal government:  National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Armed Services, Department of Homeland Security
State and local governmental laboratories/agencies
Colleges and universities

STRATEGIES

Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments.  Select courses with laboratory components
Seek research experience with professors.  Gain related experience through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteering.  Complete a certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized laboratory techniques
Take a course in grant writing.  A bachelor's degree in biology qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions.  Earn master's degree for better positions, advancement opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay. 
Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams.  Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations to gain admittance into graduate school.

ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY

AREAS

Some Areas of Specialization:
Botany and plant sciences
Ecology and wildlife
Marine and aquatic
Systematic (Taxonomy)
Zoology
Entomology
Genetics
Microbiology:  bacteria, algae, fungi, molds, yeasts, viruses, protozoa

EMPLOYERS

Colleges and universities, especially colleges of agriculture and veterinary medicine
Veterinary hospitals
State and federal government:  Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Health
Independent laboratories:  food production, textiles, chemical, pharmaceutical, and forestry products
Zoos and aquariums
Fish hatcheries
Wildlife preserves and parks
Conservation agencies
Botanical gardens and arboretums
Museums
Agricultural experiment stations
Inspection agencies and control boards
National and international environmental organizations
Private recreation organizations

STRATEGIES

Seek related experience through coursework, part-time jobs, internships or volunteering.  Conduct research or assist in research including the collection of information and samples of water, soil, plants, animals, etc.  Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest.  Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research and management positions.

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES

AREAS

Some areas of specialization:
Biophysics
Biochemistry
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Cytology
Genetics
Immunology
Pathology
Pharmacology
Physiology
Virology

EMPLOYERS

Colleges and universities
Professional schools including colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture
Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies:  National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration
State and local public health departments
Clinics and hospitals
Private research foundations
Independent laboratories
Pharmaceutical companies

STRATEGIES

Gain laboratory experience through coursework and/or research projects with professors.  Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments.  Seek internships, part-time employment and volunteer opportunities in the biomedical field.  Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest.  Take courses in area(s) of specialization and/or consider an advanced degree.  Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research and management positions.

HEALTHCARE

AREAS

Medicine
Dentistry
Optometry
Podiatry
Pharmacy
Veterinary medicine
Allied Health:  occupational therapy, physical therapy
Medical technology
Nuclear medicine

EMPLOYERS

Hospitals
Medical centers and clinics
Nursing homes
Private practice
Armed services
Government agencies

STRATEGIES

Plan on attending medical school or other related graduate program.  Maintain an outstanding grade point average, particularly in the sciences.  Secure strong faculty recommendations.  Meet with a pre-health advisor periodically.  Join related student organizations and demonstrate leadership abilities.  Seek experiences in hospital or healthcare settings through volunteering, shadowing, part-time positions, or internships.  Develop a back up plan in case medical/graduate school admission in denied.  Consider alternative but related careers such as physician assistants.  Research all of the various fields within medicine to determine career goals.

BIOINFORMATICS

AREAS

Algorithm and statistics development
Data analysis and interpretation
Information management:  organization and retrieval

EMPLOYERS

Colleges and universities
Private research foundations
Independent laboratories:  organic and agricultural chemicals, drug and pharmaceutical, medical device and equipment, research, testing, and medical
Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies:  National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture
National Biological Information Infrastructure

STRATEGIES

Develop multiple areas of specialization through coursework, minors, double-majors in molecular biology, mathematics, statistics, computer science, or machine learning.  Develop strong programming and database management skills; fluency in several programming languages is helpful.  Learn biological software systems.  Complete an internship in area of interest.  Seek master's degree for increased advancement opportunities.

EDUCATION

AREAS

Teaching:  elementary, secondary, post-secondary
Non-classroom Education

EMPLOYERS

Universities and colleges
Medical and other professional schools
Public and private schools, K-12
Museums
Zoos
Nature centers and parks

STRATEGIES

Gain experience working with students through tutoring, part-time employment, interning, or volunteering.  Learn to work well with all types of people.  Develop excellent interpersonal and public speaking skills.  Certification is required for K-12 schoolteachers and varies by state.  Master's degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community or two-year institutions.  Ph.D. is needed for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.

COMMUNICATION

AREAS

Technical Writing
Editing
Illustrating
Photography

EMPLOYERS

Publishing companies including scientific magazines, professional journals, periodicals, textbooks, and online publishers
Newspapers
Educational and scientific software companies
Zoological and environmental societies
Medical, dental and veterinary colleges
Research centers
Federal government agencies
Related nonprofit organizations
Museums

STRATEGIES

Acquire thorough knowledge of photographic procedures and technology.  Take specific courses in biological, medical, and ophthalmic photography; courses in illustration and printing are also helpful.  Develop strong writing skills and command of the English language.  Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism classes or consider a minor in either.  Join professional associations like the National Association of Science Writers.  Seek related volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications to increase marketability.  Obtain an advanced degree in scientific journalism.

LEGISLATION/LAW

AREAS

Lobbying
Regulatory Affairs
Science Policy
Patent Law
Environmental Law

EMPLOYERS

Federal and state government
Law firms
Large corporations

STRATEGIES

Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  Maintain current knowledge of industry-specific laws and policies.  Acquire internships in federal or state government.  Take courses in history, political science and/or legal studies.  Acquire a Ph.D. for advanced positions.  Earn a J.D. degree to practice law.

BUSINESS/INDUSTRY

AREAS


Technical and pharmaceutical sales
Management
Consulting
Marketing

EMPLOYERS

Manufacturing companies including:  pharmaceuticals, animal pharmaceuticals, laboratory equipment, medical supplies and prostheses
Marketing firms
Consulting firms

STRATEGIES

Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  Demonstrate a high energy level.  Take courses in anatomy, pharmacology, and chemistry.  Obtain sales experience and/or a business minor.  Join related student associations and hold leadership positions.  Consider an MBA or Professional Science Master's for advanced management and consulting opportunities.

GENERAL INFORMATION

A Bachelor's degree will qualify one for work as a laboratory assistant, technician, technologist, or research assistant in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens.

An undergraduate degree can also be used for nontechnical work in writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation.

Master's degrees allow for more opportunities in research and administration. Some community colleges will hire Master's level teachers.

Doctoral degrees are necessary for advanced research and administrative positions, university teaching, and independent research.

An advanced degree provides the opportunity to specialize in fields of interest.

The biological sciences are good preparation for a career in healthcare such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science, but professional degrees and licenses are also necessary to practice in these fields.

Learn laboratory procedures and become familiar with equipment.

Obtain summer, part-time, volunteer, co-op, or internship experience to test the fields of interest and gain valuable experience.  Take independent research classes if possible.

Participate in summer research institutes.  Submit research to local poster competitions or research symposiums.

Develop strong analytical, computer, mathematics, and communications skills.

Join professional associations and community organizations to stay abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts.

Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.

Maintain a high grade point average to improve chances of graduate and professional school admission.

Become familiar with the specific entrance exam for graduate or professional schools in your area of interest.

Secure strong relationships and personal recommendations from professors and/or employers.

Consider completing a post-doctoral experience after graduate school.

Learn federal, state, and local government job application process. The federal government is the largest employer of biologists.

Gain experience with grant writing and fundraising techniques. Often research must be funded in this manner.

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