List of Biology Careers

Sally Painter
Reviewed by Human Resource Management Expert Mary Gormandy White
scientist and DNA

The field of biology encompasses a vast array of potential careers. Just think about it - everything that has life on this earth is a part of biology, which is or the study of life. While it is possible to pursue a career that investigates biology from a more general standpoint, most biology careers focus on a subset of biology as a whole. This list includes popular biology career fields, but the options are practically endless if you want to pursue advanced education within the biology field.

Most Popular Biology Career Field

The list of potential biology careers includes several career fields to explore. Each of these career fields is broken down into more specialized job positions based on specific interests and goals. Due to the very scientific and specialized knowledge required in most careers in biology, the minimum of a bachelor's degree is required. Some jobs require an advanced degree. Unless otherwise indicated, information is obtained from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Medical Field

Humans are naturally part of the study of biological life. A degree in biology often ls leads to a career in medicine or medical/health-related fields.

Physician or Surgeon

A physician examines, diagnoses and treats patients' illnesses and injuries. This includes ordering diagnostic tests, prescribing medicines and referring patients to specialists when needed to correctly diagnose illnesses and diseases. A surgeon performs surgery on patients to repair, correct and treat all kinds of medical issues. Most surgeons specialize in a field of medicine. As a physician or surgeon, you may have a private practice, be part of a clinic, work in a hospital, university, or for the government.

Education, Licenses, and Median Salary

You will need a bachelor's degree, a four-year degree from a medical school and a minimum of one-year internship to take the medical board exam and receive your license to practice medicine. Most doctors complete three to seven years of residency (internship often included). Most surgeons spend five years in their internship and residency. Being board certified isn't mandatory, but in today's world is desirable. Being board certified requires renewal of certification every seven to ten years. The median annual salary $208,000.

Physician Assistant

A physician assistant is a team member along with physicians, surgeons and various healthcare professionals. You will find work in a physician's office, clinics, outpatient clinics or other types of healthcare institutions.

Education and Median Salary

You will need a master's degree in general practice or chosen area of medicine. The median annual salary is $108,000.

Nurses

There are several types of nursing positions you can explore. These include LPN, RN, NP, NA, and NW.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) does not hold the same certification as an RN. The LPN takes the patient's vital signs, administers medicines, gives injections, and is supervised by RNs. The LPN must pass a different licensing exam than an RN. Some states require a one-year diploma program of Practical Nursing while others don't require diplomas. The median annual salary is $48,000.

Registered Nurse (RN)

There are two paths to becoming an RN (Registered Nurse). The first is a four-year degree, Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the other is a two-year degree, an ASN (Associate of Science in Nursing). For both degrees, you'll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and any other licensures your state requires. A BSN degreed RN often earns more than an ASN degreed RN. RNs can work in hospitals, private practice doctor offices, clinics, operating room, ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and many medical specialty arenas. The median annual salary is around $72,000.

Nurse Practitioner (NP)

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is an RN trained in a specialty field of medicine. NPs can see patients, prescribe medicines, order tests, and can perform many of same duties as a doctor. Most states require a Master of Science degree in Nursing. NPs can work in various medical environments, such as doctor private practices, clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities. The median annual salary is $114,000.

Nurse Anesthetists (NA)

A Nurse Anesthetist (NA) administers anesthesia to patients while monitoring the patient's vital signs. The NA also oversees the patient's recovery from anesthesia. This position may also assist anesthesiologists, dentists, surgeons, etc. With this degree, you can find employment working in doctor offices, medical/surgical hospitals, outpatient centers, academia, home healthcare, and other medical specialty fields. An NA must be an RN with a specialty master's degree in APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse). NAs must pass a national certification exam and be licensed in their state. The median annual salary is around $175,000.

Nurse Midwife (NW)

Nurse Midwives (NW) are RNs with a master's degree APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse). Some complete an accredited midwifery education program. The duties include coordinating the patient's care. In some instances, NWs provide the primary and specialty healthcare, such as prenatal and postnatal care. National certification is required, along with any state licensure requirements. The median annual salary is around $104,000.

Physical Therapist

A physical therapist works with injured and ill patients to assist them in learning and training their bodies to move to improve and quicken recovery, adjust to limited movements, and/or to manage their pain. With this career, you'll work in clinics, private offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and patients' homes.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You will need a bachelor's degree preferably in biology and a three-year degree in PT (Physical Therapy). Some physical therapists go on to earn their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. You'll need to be licensed by your state. The median annual salary is around $88,000.

Chiropractor

A chiropractor treats the neuromusculoskeletal systems of patients through various manipulation techniques. This system includes nerves, muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments. You may open a private practice or join a group practice.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need to earn a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree. Three years of undergraduate work is typically required to attend an accredited chiropractic school, but a bachelor's degree is not required for entrance. A chiropractor isn't a medical doctor but is state licensed to practice. The median annual salary is around $72,000.

Podiatrist

A podiatrist specializes in medical care for feet, as well as ankles and lower leg ailments, diseases and injuries that includes surgery. As a podiatrist, you'll may have your own practice, work for a hospital, government, outpatient center, or be part of a clinic group of other doctors.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need to earn a Bachelor of Science degree and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM). This is followed by a three-year residency program. You must pass a National Board exam. Each state requires licensing through oral and written exams. The median annual salary is around $130,000.

Exercise Physiologist

As an exercise physiologist, you'll be responsible for developing fitness and exercise programs for patients suffering from illnesses and injuries. You may decide to open your own practice, work in a hospital or a clinic.

Education, Licenses and Salary

This career requires a bachelor's degree and a focus in various health and medical courses, especially biology. The median annual salary is around $50,000.

Nutritionist or Dietitian

A nutritionist and dietitian work with patients to devise a healthy lifestyle approach to eating. As a nutritionist or dietitian, you may work in a hospital, clinic, nursing home, cafeteria, government institution, or other type of medical facility.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need to complete a bachelor's degree that include a training period through an internship. Some states require licensing. The median annual salary is around $60,000.

Pharmacist

A pharmacist is trained to dispense various prescription medicines while offering drug and medicine expert advice about the medicines. You will work either in your own pharmacy, a chain drug store or a pharmacy in a grocery store. You may decide to work in the hospital or other medical facility pharmacy.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You will need a bachelor's degree followed by a four-year Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree program. A pharmacist must pass two exams in order to be licensed. The median annual salary is around $126,000.

Lab Technologist or Technician

Lab technicians and technologists collect samples of body fluids, tissues and other types of substances. The lab tech analyzes these samples by using various technology and tests. You can find careers working in hospitals, clinics, doctor offices, or diagnostic laboratories.

Education, Licenses and Salary

As a lab technologist you'll need a bachelor's degree. A lab technician only needs an associate degree or in some instances a postsecondary certificate awarded for a specific related program. Most states require licensing for lab techs. The median annual salary is around $52,000.

Coroner

Coroners are typically elected county government officials. Your duties will conduct inquests into unexplained citizen deaths, murder victims and establishing the identity of unknown dead people.This includes determining the cause of death of citizens and undertake investigations of the death of unknown citizens. As the coroner, you'll rely upon various professionals, such as forensic specialists and physicians to make cause of death determinations.

Education, Licenses and Salary

The requirements for the coroner's position can be different from one county to another. Some counties require coroners be certified death investigators. Most coroners are only required to hold a high school diploma or GED. Most coroners are required to have death investigation experience - 640 hours and pass the Registry Examination. The median annual salary is around $62,000. A private practice physician also serving as the coroner median annual salary is around $100,000.

Forensic Science Technicians

A forensic science technician works with criminal investigators or as part of the team. If you opt for this career, you'll analyze evidence collected at crime scenes in a forensic lab. If you work as part of the crime scene investigative team, then you'll travel to crime scenes to collect the evidence as well as analyze it.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A bachelor's degree is required along with on-the-job training for both crime scene forensic science technicians working in labs and at crime scenes. The median annual salary is around $58,000.

Pathologist

A medical pathologist is typically referred to as a pathologist. You will need to be a licensed physician and trained in clinical and anatomical pathology of human diseases. You'll examine, study and diagnose bodily fluids in a laboratory environment, using various technological diagnostic equipment and tools.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A typical education of a physician is required with a bachelor's degree in biology or chemistry, a four-year medical degree from an accredited college and three or more years in a residency program. You'll need to pass the medical exam and attain your license to practice. Most pathologist are also board certified. The median annual salary is around $187,000.

Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedics

An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and paramedics answer emergency calls. You will provide medical services to patients. This includes transporting patients to hospitals and other medical facilities.

Education, Licenses and Salary

EMT training is required to perform this job. This training is typically provided by community colleges or technical schools. Depending on your location and state requirements, the coursework can take a little as six months or involve an Associate degree that takes two-years to complete. The median annual salary is around $34,000.

Animal Science

Like the medical field, careers in animal science require an understanding of biology with a keen focus on the animal kingdom. If you pursue a career in animal science, you may have to choose whether you want to focus on a broad view of the animal kingdom, like all mammals, or if you want to specialize in a particular subset of the animal kingdom, like large cats. There are almost unlimited possibilities when looking at career options within animal science. A few possible careers include:

Veterinarian

A veterinarian provides medical care for all types of animals, including surgery when needed. Some veterinarians specialize in specific animal species, such as farm animals, while others choose a general practice. You can open your own private practice or work in an animal clinic. Other positions can include working for zoos, laboratories, federal, state and county governments.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need a Bachelor's degree to attend an accredited veterinary college for a four-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. All veterinarians must pass the North American Veterinary Licensing Exam (NAVLE) and some states have additional licensing requirements. The median annual salary is around $94,000.

Veterinary Assistant

A veterinarian assistant helps the veterinarian in caring for animals. You may find work in an animal hospital, laboratory or clinic. The duties can include, feeding, exercising, monitoring, and bathing animals in your care. You'll also be responsible for disinfecting and hygienic cleaning of cages, pens, examining rooms, and operating rooms.

Education, Licenses and Salary

Most veterinary assistants need a high school diploma or GED. You'll receive on-the-job training, but prior experience caring for animals is always a plus! The median annual salary is around $28,000.

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

A zoologist and wildlife biologists study and interact with ecosystems to understand current conditions and threats to wildlife. You may work in a laboratory, office or in the outdoors, depending on your position. Some zoologists spend their time conducting field work to collect data about habitats. You may work for a variety of industries, including zoos, studying endangered species and their habitats, research of disease control, develop animal medicines/drugs, and various types of animal research.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need a bachelor's degree. Many zoologists go on to earn a master's degree needed for scientific research. If you desire working in a university or research position, you'll most likely be required to have a PhD. The median annual salary is around $63,000.

Marine Biologist

A marine biologist studies and researches the ecosystems, biology and interaction of animals and plants in saltwater environments, such as oceans, coastal lands, wetlands and marshes. The human impact on these is also evaluated and monitored. You'll conduct field and lab work. Researchers often work with universities, aquariums, governments, coastal institutes, corporations, or private organizations.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A bachelor's degree is required for some positions, while a PhD is needed for many research careers. The median annual salary is around $62,000.

Animal Trainer or Animal Care Service Worker

An animal trainer or animal care service worker attends to the welfare and health of animals. You may find work with a zoo, stable, kennel, pet store, veterinary clinic, or animal shelter. You may decide to work independently by providing various services to individual pet owners or clinics, zoos, and others. These services may include, grooming, training, and/or animal exercising.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need a high school diploma or GED. On-the-job training is typically provided by your employer. The median annual salary is around $24,000.

Biology Careers in Education

If you love biology class, including reading slides, dissecting animals, talking about plants, evolution and more, then you may want a career that lets you have a broad focus on the science of biology. One of the best ways to do this is to pursue a career in education. After earning a bachelor's degree in biology, you can study to become a licensed teacher, then you can work at the middle school or high school levels, teaching biology and general science courses. You can also choose to pursue a masters or doctorate in science that would enable you to teach courses at the junior college or university level.

Biology Careers in Research

Humans continue to learn new things about how life forms interact, develop and degrade. If you're the inquisitive type who wants to be on the cutting edge of scientific discoveries, you may want to pursue a career in biological research. Research is typically conducted at universities and requires an advanced degree within a more specialized field, like nutrition, medicine or animal science.

Biology Careers in Plant Life Sciences

In addition to human and animal life, biologists may also investigate plant life. These careers are also practically endless as you can specialize in studying a specific plant or you can study an entire ecosystem. Some of the careers related to plant life include:

Agricultural Research Scientist

An agricultural research scientist explores solutions for agricultural issues and challenges, such as product safety or agricultural efficiency. You may find a job in a laboratory that may also require field.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A bachelor's degree is required for entry-level positions. As you advance in your career path, you'll most likely need to earn a master's degree. Many research positions demand a PhD, depending on the level of research involved. The median annual salary is around $64,000.

Botanist

A botanist studies plant life, especially the molecular level and the interaction between plants and their environments. Jobs can include those in the agricultural/food industries, research and development environmental companies, and other industries that affect or work within environmental ecosystems. You can find other positions within universities and governments.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need at least a bachelor's degree, but to be competitive, a master's degree is usually preferable. The median annual salary is around $63,000.

Conservation Scientists and Foresters

If you opt for a forest service career or a conservation scientist position, you'll be managing and researching forests and their relationship with land quality. You may choose to work in a state or national park or range lands. Other positions include working for lumber harvesting companies, government agencies or even a conservation organization.

Education, Licenses and Salary

You'll need a bachelor's degree while some positions require a master's degree. Depending on the type of research you wish to pursue, you may need a PhD. The median annual salary is around $62,000.

Soil Scientist

A soil scientist analyzes the soil composition and its relationship to plants, especially agricultural crops. You'll be concerned with the soil properties, such as chemical, morphology, and distribution. There are many career options within agricultural industries. Positions within various government agencies concerned with wetlands, watersheds, crops, farming, etc.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A Bachelor of Science degree is required. If you go into a specialized field, additional training, Master's degree or PhD degree may be required. The median annual salary is around $71,000.

Horticulturist

A horticulturist works with the processes of plant life that include plant growth, production and various aspects of working with plants, such as landscaping, nursery plant production, and even research positions for developing new hybrid plants. Many horticulturists operate their own nurseries, greenhouses or landscaping business. You may decide to go into research for developing new plant breeds for food or ornamental plants.

Education, Licenses and Salary

A bachelor's degree with an emphasis in horticulture is required. If you decide to go into research, you'll need a master's degree and if you decide to specialize in a specific research, other educational requirements may be needed. The median annual salary is around $42,000.

Exploring a List of Biology Career Fields

An undergraduate degree in biology offers you many career options and provides a solid base for building a more advanced career. You can explore these and other biology related careers offered in the public and private sectors.

List of Biology Careers