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Biologist: Career Definition, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements
Do you have a fascination with living organisms, their composition and how they relate to the environment? Would you like to research and study this for a living? Keep reading if you're interested in a career as a professional biologist. Schools offering Clinical Laboratory Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Is the Career Definition of a Biologist?
Biologists, or biological scientists, work with and research living organisms. As a biologist, you'll use your knowledge and research of living organisms to try to find out what they're composed of and their relationship to what's around them. You may also use this information to develop and improve medical, industrial and agricultural procedures. In some positions, you'll spend time researching and developing new ways to use information from living organisms to improve health problems and cure diseases. A few areas of biology you might specialize in include botany, biochemistry, aquatic biology, microbiology, physiology, zoology and ecology.
Biologists usually work 40 hours per week in offices and laboratories where they spend time researching and analyzing data. In some jobs you may have to work overtime for certain research projects in order to meet deadlines. If you work in a laboratory, you'll have to follow very precise safety procedures when handling hazardous substances.
What Is the Job Outlook?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 91,300 biologists worked in government offices, laboratories and pharmaceutical firms in the nation as of May 2008 (www.bls.gov). The majority of biologists worked for local, state and federal governments. A 21% increase in the number of jobs for biologists was expected from 2008-2018. This was substantially above the national average for all industries due to society seeking better medical treatment and more ways to preserve the environment.
In July 2011, Salary.com estimated that biologists with less than two years of experience earned an annual median salary of $45,794. The BLS concluded in May 2010 that the median yearly wage earned by general biologists was $68,220. The 10th percentile made $38,780 while the 90th percentile made $102,300.
What Are the Education Requirements?
Biologists must have a 4-year undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Biology, for entry-level research positions. A few classes you may take are microbiology, anthropology, biochemistry and molecular biology. Most employers prefer biologists with a master's degree in biology or in any of the life sciences to work in applied research, product development, management or teaching at the high school level. If you wish to conduct independent research or teach in a university setting, you must have a doctorate degree in biology or a closely related field.
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