Careers for Biology Majors

Learn how to begin a career in biology. Here, we outline what you need to know to get started.

November 10, 2021

Careers for Biology Majors

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Careers Paths for Biology Majors

Individuals interested in beginning a biology career can explore many diverse fields, including medicine, zoology, botany, and ecology. Learners can pursue a degree in biology at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral level.

Biology majors need an analytical mind and strong critical thinking skills. They should enjoy learning about living organisms and studying biological systems. They should also enjoy working in laboratory settings and processing data.

Biologists often make discoveries and help solve major scientific challenges. This page details some potential biology careers, including salary outlook and certifications for biology professionals.

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Questions Considering a Career in Biology

true Q. What can you do with a bachelor's degree in biology?

Graduates can pursue a variety of careers in many workplace settings. Biology degree-holders may work as biological technicians, biochemists, biology teachers, agricultural scientists, microbiologists, or environmental scientists.

true Q. What are the highest-paying biology jobs?

Microbiologists, environmental scientists, and agricultural and food scientists earn some of the highest entry-level salaries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

true Q. Do biologists get paid well?

Biological scientists earn a median annual salary of $85,290. Professionals in the highest percentile earn $137,030, significantly exceeding the median annual salary of $41,950 for all occupations.

true Q. Can I go to nursing school with a bachelor's in biology?

Learners with a degree in biology can enroll in nursing school. Some colleges allow students to pursue an accelerated track. This can allow biology degree-holders to enter the nursing field in less than two years.

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Biology Specializations

Biology specializations enable learners to focus on a niche area within the field. For example, biologists who want to study wildlife may major in biology but concentrate on animal biology. These students may specialize by taking classes like mammalogy or ornithology.

Colleges and universities may call specializations concentrations or tracks. Biology majors can choose from specializations by subject area. Certain specializations may require a different degree and certification requirements. See below for some common biology specializations.

What Are the Education Requirements for Biology?

Biology majors can pursue careers in many diverse fields. A lab or internship can help students further define their career paths. Learners may pursue an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in biology. Students should consider their career aspirations when choosing degree levels.

How Much Does a Biology Degree Cost?

On average, tuition costs range from $8,505 at in-state public colleges to $38,585 for out-of-state private colleges. Students can often reduce their degree costs by enrolling in an online biology program. Some online programs charge in-state students less than $5,000 per year in tuition. Out-of-state students may pay $15,000-$20,000 per year.

Online institutions typically cost less overall. Some online schools offer more transfer credit options and allow students to capture credit for on-the-job training. Online courses can range from $12-$66 per credit. Prospective biology majors should account for lab fees, which vary by school.

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How Much Do Biology Majors Make?

Salaries for biology graduates vary depending on many factors, including education level and employer. For example, biological technicians earn an annual median salary of $46,340 while zoologists and wildlife biologists earn $66,350. Environmental scientists and specialists earn a median annual salary of $73,230 while postsecondary educators earn $80,790.

Biologists can increase their salary potential through certifications or advanced degrees. While biology-related careers can pay well, the highest-paid positions typically require the most extensive training.

Career and Salary Outlook for a Biology Degree

Biology majors can pursue several careers that lead to varying salaries. The highest-paid positions require an extensive amount of training and education. However, professionals with an associate or bachelor's degree can still find lucrative career opportunities.

Career Salary Potential
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Wildlife Biologist $66,350 4%
Biological Technician $46,340 5%
Microbiologist $84,400 3%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Biology

Biology professionals can attain a variety of certifications and licensure for their particular career. The requirements to earn the credentials vary widely. See below for some potential certifications for specific occupations.

This credential from the ASCP Board of Certification demonstrates professional competency among laboratory personnel. Candidates must complete academic prerequisites and fulfill clinical laboratory education prior to the examination. Applicants must also satisfy a specified minimum of degree requirements. Medical technologists, embryology laboratory scientists, andrology laboratory scientists, molecular diagnostics technologists, and medical laboratory technicians can certify their credentials through the AAB Board of Registry. Certain states require medical technologists and medical laboratory technicians to pass a certifying or licensing examination through the AAB Board of Registry examinations. This certification program offers the highest certification for professionals who practice wetland science. The certification upholds wetland science standards of professional ethics and fulfills both educational and experience requirements.

Resources for Biology Majors

AIBS works with organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The institute offers a scientific journal, professional development opportunities, and information regarding science policy. The National Science Foundation offers this robust collection of lessons and web resources to help classroom teachers develop lesson plans. ESA offers membership to professionals who research, teach, and use ecological science to address environmental issues. Students can use the ESA as a resource for natural resource management, ecological restoration, and ecosystem management. Students can use this website to explore various marine career fields. They can also browse job responsibilities of those who work in marine-related roles at colleges and universities, state and federal agencies, and independent organizations. The site details job responsibilities in research laboratories and consulting firms.

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