The biological sciences examine living organisms, their habitats and their life processes. If you choose a career in this area, 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.
Preparation in a bachelor's degree program 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 may include additional schooling. You can also pursue advanced studies in biological science or a related science, such as zoology, biochemistry, medical science or pharmacology.
Students who complete graduate programs may work in labs conducting medical research or studying genetics. You could also work in the field, studying botany, zoology or ecology.
There are many different kinds of biological scientists, with varying employment and earnings potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for biochemists and biophysicists is expected to increase by 19% from 2012-2022, while expected growth is 7% for microbiologists and 19% for postsecondary biological science teachers (www.bls.gov). Biological technicians can anticipate 10% job growth during that same decade, and high school teachers can expect 6% job growth.
The BLS also reported that biochemists and biophysicists earned median pay of $81,480 in 2012. Microbiologists earned $66,260, postsecondary biological science teachers earned $74,180, and biological technicians earned $39,750. High school teachers had a median salary of $55,050 in 2012.
A bachelor's degree program is the most common starting point for a career in biological sciences. 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 science typically take two years to complete. 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. A doctoral degree program can take 4-5 years of study and research.