What Can You Do With a Biology Degree?
Careers in biology are as varied as the people who pursue them. A degree in biology can be the first step to a career in research, health care, environmental protection, or even education. During your studies, you’ll learn how to make predictions, conduct research, and deliver presentations as you work to uncover the fundamental mysteries of life.
You might find yourself asking, What does a biologist do? There's not just one answer; in fact, there are so many things you can do with a biology degree. A bachelor of science (BS) degree in biology can help prepare you for a future that includes research, lab work, and graduate or medical school, among many other career options. Here are some common paths pursued by biology majors:
Medical school: You’ll be well prepared for the biology-heavy coursework involved in the medical school curriculum once you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree in biology.
Medical researcher: If you’re more interested in studying human diseases than practicing medicine, a career in research might be a good option for you. Often, researchers conduct clinical trials and employ other investigative methods to learn about preventing and treating diseases.
Biomedical engineer: A combination of engineering and biology, the field of biomedical engineering involves designing and creating medical equipment, devices, computer systems and software that are used in health care settings.
Law school: In order to specialize in patents or environmental law, you’ll need a degree in biology or another science field. But even if you don’t plan to practice in those areas, a biology degree might help you stand out from other law school applicants.
Animal care and research or veterinary school: Biology coursework can prepare you for success in veterinary school or go into other areas of animal care. Veterinary schools don’t have a specific major they require for admission, but they often prefer candidates with a science-heavy course load, in addition to strong performance in English and public speaking courses.
Environmental conservation: Conservationists can work in laboratories, museums, universities or at various other sites around the world. In the field of conservation, there are several avenues: a conservationist could work “on the ground” cleaning and preserving artifacts or in a lab researching conservation materials and methods. Conservationists also work to preserve history in museums and are employed as professors at universities.
Plant biology: Also known as botanists, plant biologists study plant life, including the effects of pollution, environmental protection, or identification of new species. In addition to working in plant gardens, zoos and laboratories, botanists are hired by educational institutions as both teachers and researchers.
Genetic counselor: Genetic counselors work with families to evaluate their risk of inherited medical conditions. In addition to a degree in biology, genetic counselors have medical degrees. They work in places such as doctors’ offices, hospitals and insurance companies.
Quality control: Quality control involves making sure a company or lab is in compliance with regulatory requirements through auditing and other quality assurance methods.
Science education: In order to teach biology to middle and high school students, you’ll need to earn a teaching certificate in addition to an undergraduate degree in biology. Of course, you also have the opportunity to continue your education. In order to teach at the postsecondary level, you’ll likely need a master’s or PhD.
Government positions, including health and agriculture officials or lobbyist: Biologists can work for the Environmental Protection Agency or can focus their careers on wildlife, forestry, or marine biology. Some biologists choose to go into lobbying to encourage politicians to vote on legislation that favors the environment or supports investment in biological research.
A biologist's salary can depend on a number of factors, including education level, geographic location, and industry. There's no one answer for a biology major salary, but below are some common salaries of professionals with a degree in biology:
|JOB||2015 MEDIAN PAY|
|High School Science Teacher||$57,200|
In essence, biologists study life in all its forms. Biology is the science of life, and biologists study the structure, function, growth origin, evolution and distribution of all living organisms. This may include bacteria, fish and wildlife, or humans.
Biologists generally choose to focus their studies in one subfield of biology, including biochemistry, cellular biology, ecology, genetics, molecular biology, or physiology. Many of these fields overlap at times. At GMercyU, for example, students who pursue biology degrees automatically earn a minor in chemistry.
Regardless of which area biologists choose to specialize in, they all conduct research based on the scientific method, whereby they form a hypothesis, run an experiment, and document the results.
GMercyU students have the benefit of small classes, taught by professors with doctorate degrees. In addition to labs that accompany all required courses, summer research opportunities are available for interested students. These opportunities have paid off, as students at GMercyU routinely score well on the nationally-normed ETS® Major Field Test in Biology.
In fact, GMercyU's biology students scored in the top 18% for biochemistry and the top 5% for celluar biology among all other institutions tested in 2017 and routinely score above the national average.
Once accepted into the biology program at GMercyU, you can apply to join the Ethics in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (E-STEM) Program, our National Science Foundation-sponsored program that provides scholarships to students in the sciences.
Whatever career you intend to pursue after graduation, a biology degree from GMercyU can be a great first step!