When you think of careers in biology, your mind might immediately turn to images of a doctor treating an elderly patient in the hospital or a veterinarian performing surgery on a golden retriever. While these traditional careers that often require a master’s or doctoral degree can certainly be rewarding, it’s important to realize how diverse the spectrum of biology careers actually is.
Earning a bachelor’s in biology degree can open the door to a large pool of unique career options, especially when it comes to finding entry-level roles. Consider the following diverse careers in biology with a bachelor’s degree.
1. Forensic biologist
One of the more enticing careers in biology involves working as a forensic biologist. A professional in this role is responsible for examining a variety of materials collected in certain environments to support thorough criminal investigations. Many times, this work is conducted to identify victims in criminal cases.
Forensic biologists may examine blood, human hair, bones, and animal and plant remains. Some of this material may be found on a door handle or the floor in a house, clothing, in vehicles, or other surfaces. In many cases, the evidence is analyzed in a lab using high-tech methods to determine the time and nature of a crime or the cause of death. Upon making determinations, the forensic biologist will write up a report that is then passed on to others involved in the investigation.
On occasion, a forensic biologist may be involved in the investigations behind public health threats such as some type of gas leak or contamination to the environment.
2. Genetic counselor
A genetic counselor is a healthcare professional who works with individuals on a range of genetic issues. Their role is to gather, examine, and interpret family history information on a patient who may have one or more genetic conditions. The counselor can run calculations to help patients considering having children determine the probability of genetic conditions being passed down to offspring. In addition, they can also provide information and guidance on available types of genetic testing and procedures relevant to specific genetic conditions.
A primary goal of a genetic counselor is to communicate complex information in an easily understood, layman’s-terms language. Because human beings can be at risk of having one of a countless number of genetic conditions, and many conditions present themselves uniquely from one person to another, the counselor must be able to translate these details into plain English.
Plus, genetic counselors educate families on how genetic conditions are related to familial and cultural aspects. They can also refer patients to relevant services, groups, and resources.
3. Lab assistant/technician
Laboratory assistants and technicians help scientists studying an array of subjects carry out experiments in a lab setting. This role often involves preparing, cleaning, and maintaining various types of lab equipment, along with recording results from the experiments. They may also be responsible for performing basic analyses and documenting the results.
The responsibilities of lab techs can vary depending on the type of lab in which you work. However, the basic principles of compliance with detailed protocols and always maintaining safety and accuracy are paramount in this environment.
4. Science writer
A science writer, sometimes called a science journalist, writes about news developments related to science, achievements in research, and issues or challenges facing a specific area of the science field.
Science writers may either work for themselves as a freelancer, or they can find employment with print and electronic publications. Some of the more prominent publications include National Geographic, Scientific American, and Popular Science. However, science writers may contribute to non-scientific publications such as newspapers.
In other cases, a science writer may produce articles for scientific journals intended for industry professionals rather than a more mainstream audience. These types of publications include the Journal of Molecular Biology, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The American Naturalist. Of course, there are countless niche publications under the biology umbrella and even more across the broad field of science in general. Plus, it’s important to keep in mind that it may take time to earn writing opportunities for larger publications, so don’t be afraid to pick up some “clips” by getting published in smaller outlets early in your career.
Entomology is considered a subset of the zoology field. An entomologist is a scientist whose primary focus is the study of insects. Entomologists examine the life cycle, classification, physiology, and behavior of all types of insects. They even explore distribution, ecology, and population dynamics of these small yet intriguing creatures.
With over 1.3 million insects having been formally classified, entomologists have their work cut out for them in terms of the mere number of species across a diversity of environments. Plus, they explore how these insects interact with environments, animals, and humans.
6. Conservation biologist
A conservation biologist conducts research on plant and animal life, environments, and the broader ecosystems. Their primary goal is to determine and develop potential solutions to environmental challenges through advocacy work. Conservation biologists typically represent the professionals who work out in the field.
More specifically, a conservation biologist identifies and attempts to find ways to repair areas of the environment that have been negatively impacted by civilization. While they often try to conserve large habitats and animal populations, they also work to protect animals and plants facing extinction.
In some cases, these professionals will travel to a particular site in question. They examine it by running tests on the air, soil, and water. They may collect samples from the environment for further exploration in a lab setting. They then record all of these findings and create presentations or write papers based on their findings. In the end, they provide professional recommendations on strategies to maintain or improve an environment for purposes of conservation.
An astrobiologist is a science professional whose work involves studying the potential for life to exist outside of the Earth. Astrobiologists attempt to understand the origins of life in other areas of the solar system and how forms of life are able to survive in environments outside of our planet.
To make such determinations, an astrobiologist will study various forms of life in harsh environments around the globe. They then use this information and essentially translate it into how life would survive on other planets and moons. They spend time working in labs to test and record vital information on bacteria, their life cycle, and how they exist in extreme conditions. Examining fossils is another aspect of their work.
Astrobiology can be an incredibly fascinating career in biology because it allows you to learn about the early period of the Earth and how life may have evolved, in addition to uncovering unique findings about life around the solar system.
8. Biology teacher
Do you want to teach biology to students at the K-12 level? This can be one of the mostrewarding careers in biology.
In this role, you get to help students uncover life’s mysteries through unique classroom activities and lab experiments. Ultimately, you’ll have the chance to empower students to use science for the better through hands-on activities that make science real and fun.
Typically, biology is not introduced to students until middle or high school. So, earning a biology degree with a minor in secondary education can help you attain such a teaching position. In addition, biology is offered as an advanced placement (AP) course in many high schools. This means you could be helping students actually earn college credit while still in high school if you get the opportunity to teach these high-level classes.
Considering Earning a Bachelor’s in Biology Degree?
If you’re thinking about earning an undergraduate biology degree, consider your options with Saint Leo University. Check out the bachelor’s in biology degree program page to learn more about this exciting curriculum and how it can prepare you for a host of rewarding careers in biology.
In addition, Saint Leo’s TriBeta Biological Honor Society chapter offers students a number of unique opportunities to connect with and speak directly to professionals across a variety of industries related to biology and the sciences. This allows students to gain a much stronger understanding of specific career options to help them determine their best path upon completing a bachelor’s in biology.