For many people, a biology degree is a step on the way to medical school or another health care specialty. But there are plenty of biology jobs that don’t involve going anywhere near a stethoscope or drawing up patient charts, including lab-based research, direct involvement in policy or even the sale of new prescription drugs.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Avant Career put together a list of 9 jobs you can get with a biology degree.
What you’d do: The job description for a biologist depends on your specialty. Most biologists spend their days studying organisms and conducting research and experiments. Most work occurs within the lab, but not always. For example, plant biologists and environmental biologists are often in the field, observing their subjects in their native habitats.
What you'd need: Your bachelor’s degree can get you in the door, but to earn a big-time salary, you’ll want to pursue a master’s or a Ph.D.
What you’d make: $77,190 per year
What you’d do: Biomedical engineers design and create the equipment used by health care professionals and researchers. Although “biomedical” comes first in the name, the emphasis is on engineering in this role, with the goal of developing devices and software that are specialized for medical and biological work.
What you'd need: Enhance your biology degree with appropriate electives from the engineering department. To enjoy better job prospects, you can also pursue a graduate degree in biomedical engineering.
What you’d make: $86,220 per year
What you’d do: By working to lessen humanity’s negative impact on the planet, environmental scientists are the ultimate guardians of good. Environmental scientists are involved in pollution cleanup and they also advise government and business officials on how to reduce waste and avoid harmful missteps.
What you'd need: Your bachelor’s degree qualifies you for entry-level work. Graduate-level work in your specialty will help your career progress more quickly.
What you’d make: $67,460 per year
What you’d do: The kitchen is a food scientist’s primary laboratory. Food scientists have various areas of specialty, including research (working on better food additives or storage methods to make food safe and usable for longer periods) and quality assurance (working with regulatory agencies or overseeing food production for a business).
What you'd need: A bachelor’s degree in biology, microbiology, or a related field qualifies you for entry level, but advanced degrees are expected for mid-career and senior jobs.
What you’d make: $62,470 per year
What you’d do: Jobs for biology majors don’t always have a primary focus on the sciences. Pharmaceutical sales reps promote new drugs to doctors and other medical professionals for them to prescribe to patients. Communication and persuasion skills are crucial in this role, but so are knowledge of pharmacology and chemistry, and an interest in the business side of medicine.
What you'd need: Your bachelor’s degree meets the entry-level requirements; a minor in sales, marketing and advertising will make you a stronger candidate.
What you’d make: $59,080 per year
What you’d do: Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals—either in the wild or in captivity— and their behavior to see how they interact with their natural habitats.
What you’d need: A bachelor’s degree is needed for entry-level positions, but for high-level investigative or scientific work, you’ll need an advanced degree to lead independent research or obtain a university research position.
What you’d make: $59,680 per year
What you’d do: Geographers study the Earth’s natural environment and its human and animal inhabitants. The occupation is broken into two categories: physical geographers, who study the physical aspects of the Earth like glaciers and mountains, and human geographers, who study cultures and their political and economic characteristics.
What you’d need: Your bachelor’s degree is good for federal government and entry-level positions, but advanced degrees in geography or geographic information systems (GIS) will advance your career.
What you’d make: $74,260 per year
What you’d do: Forensic scientists aid criminal investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. As a forensic scientist, you would typically specialize either in crime scene investigation or laboratory analysis.
What you’d need: In addition to a bachelor’s degree, on-the-job training is generally required if you want to investigate crimes or work in a lab.
What you’d make: $56,320 per year
What you’d do: Using their expertise of water quality and availability, hydrologists study water movement. Their time is generally split between working in the field, where they may find themselves wading into lakes and streams to collect samples or read monitoring equipment, and an office, where they use computers to analyze data and model their findings.
What you’d need: While your bachelor’s degree qualifies you for entry-level work, some workers begin their careers with a master’s degree.
What you’d make: $79,550 per year