Updated on April 4, 2018 Linda Crampton moreLinda Crampton has an honors degree in biology. She has taught high school biology, chemistry, and other science subjects for many years. Biology offers a wide range of fascinating and often exciting careers for people who are interested in the living world. Biologists study nature in the field and in the laboratory. They carry out research, protect and manage living things, educate the public, and discover new facts about animals, plants, microorganisms, and the functioning of the human body. Biology is a broad subject that can be subdivided into many different topics, giving students a large choice of concentration areas. Biologists may focus on one group of animals, plants, or microorganisms, such as mammals if they are zoologists, flowering plants if they are botanists, or bacteria if they are microbiologists. They often specialize further within their chosen group. A mammologist may study only primates instead of all mammals, for example.
Biologists may decide to study a certain aspect of living things, such as their genetics, embryology, physiology, behaviour, biochemistry, or ecology. Some researchers study the organisms in a particular environment. Marine biologists explore life in the ocean, for example. Others, such as cell biologists, study a particular level of body organization. There is a huge number of specialties to choose from in biology. People who have a biology degree can work in research, environmental management, conservation, education, or technology. They may find work in an interdisciplinary area such as biostatistics, epidemiology, or bioinformatics, depending on the courses that they’ve taken in addition to biology. Some biologists enter the field of scientific writing or scientific illustration. Others may get a job in business, working in marketing or sales of items related to biology. A biology degree is also excellent preparation for careers that require further training, such as medicine, dentistry, or veterinary science. Biologists whose research concentrates on microorganisms, mosses, or aquatic environments may all study Centropyxis aculeata. Different subtopics of biology often overlap.
Research biologists study nature in the field and in the laboratory. They carefully design experiments, make detailed observations, record data, analyze the data, and then report their findings. Biology labs have sophisticated tools and computer software programs to help researchers do their jobs. Portable electronics are very useful for collecting data in the field and even for doing some analysis. A research biologist may work as a member of a team instead of on their own. Researchers work for government agencies, private companies, and industry. Some educational organizations such as museums, zoos, and aquariums also hire biology researchers. University professors carry out research as well as teach. People with a bachelor’s degree in biology may be able to get a job related to biology research, but the jobs that involve more responsibility and offer more potential for career advancement require a master’s degree or a PhD. Some students work as an assistant in a research lab when they get their bachelor’s degree in order to gain some experience (and money) and then go to graduate school later. Conservationists work to protect endangered animal and plant populations.
They try to solve conflicts between humans and wildlife and help people live in peace with their animal neighbours. They also try to find solutions to problems of habitat destruction and fragmentation. Conservationists monitor the status and health of vulnerable animal or plant communities and attempt to stop the spread of disease through a population. Education of the public is a big part of a conservationist’s job. Wildlife management is not the same as wildlife conservation. Managers are concerned about the health and status of wildlife populations, but they also look at issues of animal overcrowding, interference with human activities, and human use of animals. They try to balance the needs of animals with the needs of humans. Wildlife managers deal with topics such as controlling pests, determining the number of animals that can be hunted without endangering a population, and improving habitat to support the lives of certain animals. They may recommend wildlife culls if they think they are necessary. As in biology research, a bachelor’s degree in biology may be useful in a wildlife conservation or management job, but an advanced degree would give more career choices.
A major goal of biotechnologists is to change the genome (the complete genetic information) of a living thing in order to benefit humans. Microbes are often used as the experimental organisms, but plants or animals may be used as well. An organism which contains a gene or genes from another organism is said to be transgenic and the creation of the transgenic organism is known as genetic engineering. Some results of genetic engineering are the production of bacteria that make human insulin for diabetics, the production of plants that produce their own insecticides, and the production of cows and goats that contain human medicines in their milk. The number of biotechnology applications is growing rapidly, although the creation of transgenic organisms is often controversial. A bachelor’s degree might allow a person to get a job as an assistant in biotechnology. As in many areas of biology that involve research or practical applications, however, a graduate degree is preferable for people who want to work in biotechnology.