The biological sciences examine living organisms, their habitats and their life processes. If you choose a career in this field, you could conduct research in the field or in a lab. Keep reading to learn more about your academic and career options in the biological sciences.
If you choose to study biological sciences, you can take biology courses to learn about plant and animal evolution, cell structure and genetics. You can also look at organisms' relationship to the environment. This field involves a high level of research and the use of data analysis software and technological tools, such as electron microscopes. Some biological scientists spend their time in the field, studying organisms in their natural habitat, while others conduct laboratory research. You can study these topics in biological sciences bachelor's degree programs. You can also pursue graduate degrees.
Bachelor's degree programs in biological sciences include studies in mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology. You may engage in research, and you can often select from areas of specialization that include microbiology, plant science, biology education, genetics, neurobiology, biochemistry and evolutionary biology. Master's degree programs in biological sciences are research-based, and you can typically conduct independent lab or field research. Specializations are available in neuroscience and plant biology. Doctoral degree programs are also research-based and explore advanced studies in genetics, immunology, plant science and public health.
Biological science education can lead to various careers in biology, mostly research-related. You could also receive teacher training to take instructional positions at high schools and colleges. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2008 and 2018 the employment demand for biochemists should increase by 37%, while expected growth was 12% for microbiologists and 19% for other biological scientists (www.bls.gov). Science technicians could see 12% job growth. The median annual salary for biological technicians as of May 2010 was $39,020. Biological scientists made $68,220, biological science college professors made $72,700, biochemists and biophysicists made $79,390, the BLS reported.
A bachelor's degree program is the most common starting point for a career in biological sciences. These programs give you a foundation in the different sciences and provide a background in conducting research related to the study of living organisms. This can lead to entry-level lab positions. If you are interested in a job as a high school biology teacher, you need to meet your state's teacher licensing requirements, which includes additional schooling. You can also pursue advanced studies in biological science or a related science, such as zoology, biochemistry, medical science or pharmacology.
Master's degree programs in biological science typically take two years to complete. A doctoral degree program can take 4-5 years of study and research. Graduates may work in labs conducting medical research or studying genetics. You could also work in the field, studying botany, zoology or ecology.