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Biological Sciences Major Careers

Biological Sciences Career Information

Area

Employer

Information/Strategies

Research and Development

  • Basic
  • Applied
  • Quality Control
  • Administration
  • Grant Writing
  • 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/agencies
  • Colleges and universities
  • Learn to set up, operate, 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

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

  • Some Areas of Specialization:
  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Cytology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Virology
  • 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
  • Gain laboratory experience through coursework and/or research projects with professors.
  • Learn to set up, operate, 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

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Allied Health
    • Occupational Therapy
    • Physical Therapy
  • Medical Technology
  • Nuclear Medicine
  • Hospitals
  • Medical centers and clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Private practice
  • Armed services
  • Government agencies
  • 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 is denied.
  • Consider alternative but related careers such as physician 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
  • Colleges and universities
  • Private research foundations
  • Independent laboratories:
    • Organic and agricultural chemicals
    • Drug and pharmaceutical
    • Medical device 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
  • 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
  • Universities and colleges
  • Medical and other professional schools
  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Nature centers and parks
  • 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.
  • Ph.D. is needed for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.

Communication

  • Technical Writing
  • Editing
  • Illustrating
  • Photography
  • 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
  • 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
  • Federal and state government
  • Law firms
  • Large corporations
  • 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

  • Technical and Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Management
  • Consulting
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing companies including:
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Animal pharmaceuticals
    • Laboratory equipment
    • Medical supplies and prostheses
  • Marketing firms
  • Consulting firms
  • 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 and Strategies

  • 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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