The best biology degree jobs to start a rewarding career

Biology degrees aren't just for doctors and teachers. Rewarding, lucrative biology degree jobs exist throughout healthcare, academia, and science-related industries.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor

As the study of living organisms, their processes, and their functions, biology extends from microorganisms to the largest plants and animals. Biology comprises numerous branches, including medical science, botany, and zoology, all of which provide unique opportunities for biology degree jobs. 

With a biology degree, individuals can work as teachers and prepare for further training to become healthcare workers, veterinarians, and science researchers. Undergraduate degrees in biology prepare students for entry- and mid-level positions, while graduate programs lead to senior roles in biology-related professions. 

Biology professionals research humans, plants, animals, and their relationships with the environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nearly 114,000 new positions for life, physical, and social science occupations from 2020 to 2030. This bodes well for individuals with expertise in natural sciences like biology.

Types of biology careers

Biology breaks down into various branches and fields. Each biology subset provides an array of career options. Some subcategories of biology include:

  • Agricultural science: The study of crops, livestock, soil, and natural resources
  • Bioengineering: The blending of biology with engineering to create devices, software, and equipment
  • Botany: The study of plants
  • Cell biology: The study of cells at the molecular level to extract information about structures, interactions, and cell properties
  • Ecology: The study of plants, animals, and their environments
  • Evolutionary biology: The study of species, their origins, and changes over time
  • Genetics: The study of heredity as it relates to living organisms
  • Marine biology: The study of ocean plants and animals and how they relate to their environments
  • Medicine: Biology that focuses on preventing, treating, and preventing disease
  • Pathology: The study of the causes, development, and outcomes of disease
  • Zoology: The study of animals, their structures, development and various classifications

Best jobs for biology majors

Below are some common jobs held by individuals with biology degrees. A biology degree may lead directly to careers as technicians and technologists. They also serve as a foundation for more education and training. To become a physician or veterinarian, for example, individuals need to earn advanced degrees, while teaching biology often requires additional certification.

To rank the best jobs for biology majors, we assessed roles based on salary, job demand and projected growth, work-life balance, and work satisfaction. The criteria that we weighted the most heavily were salary, work-life balance, and work satisfaction.

1. Epidemiologist

  • Median salary (2020): $74,560
  • Minimum degree required: Master's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Public health investigator, infectious disease specialist, medical scientist
  • Good fit for: Individuals who are curious, analytical, detail-oriented, and possess strong mathematical, statistical, and communication skills

Description: Epidemiologists investigate occurrences of disease and injury. They determine patterns and causes of disease and injury to identify risks, develop prevention plans, and find treatment options. Epidemiologists may work with the public, government agencies, and in laboratory settings. 

2. Dentist

  • Median salary (2020): $164,010
  • Minimum degree required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Alternate job titles: Dental surgeon, periodontist, orthodontist
  • Good fit for: Individuals who have attention to detail, manual dexterity, compassion and strong communication skills, and organizational and decision-making abilities

Description: Dentists care for teeth, gums, and other areas of the mouth. Dentists perform checkups, treat dental diseases and injuries, and prescribe medications to patients. By working with colleagues like dental hygienists, dental assistants, and receptionists, dentists oversee administrative and medical duties within a dental office.

3. Physician

  • Median salary (2020): $208,000
  • Minimum degree required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Alternate job titles: Surgeon, doctor, general practitioner, healthcare provider
  • Good fit for: Individuals with extensive knowledge of the human body, patience and empathy, communication skills, effective time-management and leadership abilities

Description: Physicians perform exams, treat illness and disease, provide preventative care, and prescribe medications. Physicians may be general in nature, caring for an individual's whole body. Specialization areas for physicians include cardiology, oncology, and neurology. Physicians often work in an office caring for patients, but may also take care of patients at hospitals and comparable medical facilities.

4. Pharmacist

  • Median salary (2020): $128,710
  • Minimum degree required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Alternate job titles: Apothecary, druggist, pharmacologist, chemist
  • Good fit for: Individuals who are detail oriented, patient, and possess strong communication skills, knowledge of medical terminology, and organizational and administrative abilities

Description: Pharmacists dispense medications prescribed by physicians and other healthcare professionals. They also provide information about non-prescription medications and general health and wellness. Pharmacists administer shots and vaccinations, supervise pharmacy technicians, and have knowledge of insurance policies and practices as they relate to medication.

5. Medical scientist

  • Median salary (2020): $91,510
  • Minimum degree required: Doctoral or professional degree
  • Alternate job titles: Health scientist, immunologist, toxicologist, biomedical scientist
  • Good fit for: Individuals with research, analytical and observational skills, who can work independently and with others, and possess knowledge of natural sciences, laboratory equipment, and scientific methods and tools

Description: Medical scientists conduct research to improve general health. Medical scientists develop experiments to determine causes, treatments, and prevention of diseases. They collect data, identify potential drugs and medicinal treatments, and may help implement clinical trials and larger research studies. Medical scientists often specialize in areas such as cancer research, pathology, or toxicology.

6. Veterinarian

  • Median salary (2020): $99,250
  • Minimum degree required: Doctorate or professional degree
  • Alternate job titles: Animal specialist, animal doctor, veterinary-surgeon
  • Good fit for: Individuals who are compassionate, love animals, are patient, are manually dexterous, have organizational and communication skills, and possess extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology

Description: Veterinarians care for animals by performing examinations, treating illness and injury, and prescribing medications. They give vaccinations to animals, as appropriate, and euthanize them when needed. Veterinarians may specialize in small animals like dogs and cats or take care of livestock, horses, and other large animals. Some veterinarians also focus on caring for aquatic creatures. 

7. Forensic science technician

  • Median salary (2020): $60,590
  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Forensic DNA analyst, polygraph examiner, digital forensics expert, forensic toxicologist
  • Good fit for: Individuals who are detail-oriented and possess analytical skills, mathematical and scientific training, knowledge of laboratory equipment and processes, and problem-solving abilities

Description: Forensic science technicians assess, analyze, and interpret evidence used in crime scene investigations or laboratory settings. Forensic science technicians keep detailed records, have strong observational skills, and communicate their findings effectively. They may also be required to testify their findings in court. In a laboratory, forensic science technicians perform biological, chemical, and comparable analyses on evidence such as DNA and toxic substances. 

8. Registered nurse

  • Median salary (2020): $75,330
  • Minimum degree required: Associate degree
  • Alternate job titles: Licensed practical nurse, nurse practitioner, general nurse
  • Good fit for: Individuals who are patient, compassionate, effective communicators, are able to handle a crisis, and possess strong time-management and problem-solving abilities

Description: Registered nurses care for patients at hospitals, in physicians offices, and at other medical facilities. They serve as intermediaries between medical professionals and patients, preparing the latter for treatments and providing information, as appropriate. Registered nurses may administer medicines and treatments, provide advice about health and wellness, offer emotional support, and perform diagnostic tests.

9. Zoologist or wildlife biologist

  • Median salary (2020): $66,350
  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Life scientist, conservationist, botanist, naturalist, preservationist, ecologist
  • Good fit for: Individuals with dedication, an affinity for animals and the outdoors, leadership and communication skills, and analytical and technological abilities

Description: Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and wildlife creatures to understand their anatomy and physiology and how they interact with their environments. They may conduct research in wild habitats or controlled areas, observing and gathering information about animals, animal behaviors, and their surroundings. Zoologists and wildlife biologists also identify risks to the animals they study, write research papers, and develop conservation and preservation plans and policies.

10. High school biology teacher

  • Median salary (2020): $62,870
  • Minimum degree required: Bachelor's degree
  • Alternate job titles: Natural science teacher, biology instructor
  • Good fit for: Individuals with a strong understanding of biology fundamentals, the ability to communicate with adolescent and teenage students, an engaging classroom presence, and supervisory and listening skills

Description: High school biology teachers plan lessons, instruct students, develop and supervise experiments, and assess overall comprehension and understanding for individuals in the ninth through twelfth grades. They grade assignments and exams, work closely with colleagues and administrators, and communicate with parents about student performance. High school biology teachers also interact with students outside the classroom at activities and events. 

In conclusion

Getting a biology degree job requires hard work and dedication, but with the right degree, training, and experience, careers for biology students abound. From healthcare and medical positions to educational roles, biology degree jobs like the ones listened here are just some of the potential opportunities available. 

This article was reviewed by Nicole Galan, MSN, RN

Nicole Galan, a woman with medium-length brown hair, smiles at the camera

Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who started in a general medical/surgical care unit and then moved into infertility care, where she worked for almost 10 years. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer, specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students. Galan currently works as a full-time freelancer and recently earned her master's degree in nursing education from Capella University.

Nicole Galan is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education freelance review network. 

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