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Biological Sciences: What Can I Do With This Degree?

Research & Development

  • 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 government laboratories or agencies
  • Colleges and universities

Information & 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, advance opportunities, more responsibility, and higher pay.
  • Obtain PhD 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

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, 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

Information & 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 PhD for teaching, and advanced research and management positions.

Biomedical Sciences

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

Information & 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 PhD for teaching and advanced research and management positions.

Healthcare

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Allied health: Occupational therapy, Physical therapy
  • Medicinal technology
  • Nuclear medicine

Employers

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

Information & 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 backup plan in case medical/graduate school admission is denied.
  • Consider alternative but related careers such as physicians assistants.
  • Research all of the various fields within medicine to determine career goals.

Bioinformatics

  • 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 devise and equipment; research, testing, medical
  • Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies: National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture
  • National Biological Information Infrastructure

Information & 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

  • 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

Information & Strategies

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

Communication

  • 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

Information & 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

  • Lobbying
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Science Policy
  • Patent Law
  • Environmental Law

Employers

  • Federal and state government
  • Law firms
  • Large corporations

Information & 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 PhD for advanced positions.
  • Earn a JD degree to practice law.

Business, Industry

  • Technical and pharmaceutical sales
  • Management
  • Consulting
  • Marketing

Employers

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

Information & 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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Next Steps

Learn more about North Park's biology program.

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