Biological science is the study of life and is therefore one of the broadest subjects you can study. Biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes right up to the study of animal and plant communities.
Read on to find out where your biology degree could take you, and download our guide on how to find a job after university.
So, what can you do with a biology degree?
Biology degrees are extensive, so as you might expect, careers for biology graduates are equally as wide-ranging. Careers you could pursue with a biology degree include:
- Research scientist
- Nature conservation officer
- Forensic scientist
- Government agency roles
- Science writer
Biology careers can lead you to study living organisms to help develop biological knowledge and understanding of living processes for a number of different purposes, including treatment of disease and sustaining the natural environment.
Many biology degree graduates choose to study at postgraduate level within a specialization or related field, in order to further their expertise and help career progression, although further study often isn’t necessary for many.
Read on to find out more about the selection of typical – and less typical – biology careers available for both undergraduates and postgraduates.
Typical careers with a biology degree
Biology careers in research
Scientific research is not only crucial within society but also a highly stimulating career for biology graduates. As a research biologist you’ll aim to develop knowledge of the world around us by studying living organisms. Careers in research provide perhaps the broadest scope of all careers with a biology degree, as research can be conducted across all specializations.
Most common is research within the medical and life sciences, covering areas such as health and disease, neurology, genomics, microbiology and pharmacology. Researchers help to develop societal knowledge within many areas and, with the right additional qualifications, can be found within academia, research institutes, medical facilities and hospitals, and also within business and industry.
Biology careers in healthcare
Working in healthcare as a biologist will see you developing campaigns to help treat and cure illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, heart disease, and many lesser-known illnesses and diseases. Although many roles are out of reach to students holding just an undergraduate degree (such as doctor and practitioner roles), the sector has a huge hiring capacity, and biologists are well sought-after in the medical world.
Biology careers in environmental conservation
As an environmental biologist you’ll be interested in solving environmental problems and helping to protect natural resources and plant and animal wildlife to conserve and sustain them for future generations. Careers with a biology degree which fall under this remit include marine and/or aquatic biologist, zoo biologist, conservation biologist, ecologist and environmental manager. Biologists in these roles carry out recovery programs for endangered species and provide education for the general public. Hiring industries include charities and not-for-profit organizations, government and the public sector and ecological consultancies.
Biology careers in education
With a biology degree and a teaching qualification you’ll be equipped to work within education. You’ll enjoy working with young people and encouraging them to learn about the world, be that in a classroom, a lecture theater, a laboratory or a museum. The higher up in the education world you go, the more qualifications you’ll need; for instance, a university lecturer will often be required to have gained a master’s degree or even a PhD, while a primary or secondary school teacher will usually only need an undergraduate degree and a teacher training qualification. If you do choose to undertake further study and go on to work within higher education, you may be able to produce your own research, have your work published and/or become a member of an advisory board within your field.
Less typical careers with a biology degree
A biology degree will equip you with many transferable skills that are sought-after in the workplace, whether that workplace is within a scientific industry or not.
Below is a selection of some of the less conventional careers you can pursue with a biology degree.
Careers in biotechnology
Biotechnology is the use of scientific principles to develop and enhance technology within a number of sectors, including the consumer goods market, the technology market and business and industry. Focuses are often within agriculture, food science and medicine, where biotechnologists can be involved with genetic engineering, drug development and advancing medical technologies such as nanotechnology.
Careers in forensic science
As a forensic scientist you’ll be working within the legal sector, alongside police departments or law enforcement agencies, in order to test and process evidence gathered in criminal investigations. Many forensic scientists specialize in specific areas such as forensic odontology (dental evidence), forensic anthropology (the examination human of decomposition), crime scene examination and medical examiner roles (requiring further study).
Careers in government and policy
Biology careers in government will involve working closely with government officials and policy makers in order to advise on and create new legislation for growing topics such as biomedical research and environmental regulation. Your role will be to ensure that changes to the legal system are made based on solid science. You may work at regional or national level as a political advisor for scientific organizations and agencies or not-for-profit entities. You may also act as a representative for a political committee or group.
Careers in business and industry
The pharmaceutical sector is a multi-billion dollar industry and is in constant need of biologists to work in research and development and to test new products and prepare them for the marketplace. Other commercial industries where biologists may find roles include scientific services companies, marketing, sales and public relations.
Careers in economics
If you have a strong numerical brain, you may want to go pursue a career in biological economics. This will require you to work within government or other organizations to examine the economic impact of biological problems on society, including such problems as extinction, deforestation and pollution. Related roles include socioeconomics (focused on humans), environmental economics (focused on preserving natural capital) and ecological economics (focused on the connection between natural ecosystems and human economies).
Careers in science publishing and communication
Lastly, what can you do with a biology degree if you’re also interested in the world of media? You might be surprised to discover that media and journalism careers with a biology degree are fairly wide-ranging as well. If you’re interested in publishing or journalism you may want to use your biology degree to enter the industry as a science writer or working on a science publication such as a journal, magazine, website, TV program or film. Within these roles you’ll be able to play a role in informing and educating the general public about biological issues that are becoming relevant in contemporary society.
This article was originally published on topuniversities.com and written by Laura T.