What Are the Top 10 Entry-Level Jobs for Biology Majors?
If you’ve recently completed your bachelor’s degree in biology, you may be wondering what to do next. Or, perhaps you’ve not yet chosen your major, and you’re curious about employment options if you pursue biology.
Biology is a large and varied field, so there are many potential career pathways open to you. However, as you may be aware, getting started in many of these careers requires a Master’s degree or Ph.D. Fortunately, Bachelor of Science entry-level jobs in biology do exist. If you don’t wish to enroll in further education, or you’d like to begin earning a living straight away, there are several career options available to you.
Today, we’ll share with you ten entry-level jobs for biology majors. These are some of the easiest jobs to get after college, without pursuing a graduate degree, while still paying well. Most offer opportunities for a pay rise and advancement as you continue in your career.
Table of Contents:
- 1 1) Biological Technician
- 2 2)Microbiologist
- 3 3) Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
- 4 4) Food Scientist
- 5 5) Medical Laboratory Technician
- 6 6) Environmental Scientist
- 7 7) Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
- 8 8) Forensic Science Technician
- 9 9) Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist
- 10 10) High School Biology Teacher
1) Biological Technician
If you’re looking for entry-level science research jobs, becoming a biological technician might suit you. Having previous laboratory experience will work in your favor, though it’s not always a requirement. This job involves assisting scientists in the lab with their studies.
As a biological technician, your daily tasks may include:
- Cleaning and maintaining the laboratory, including work surfaces and technical equipment
- Preparing samples – such as microbial cultures, plant or animal matter – for analysis by biologists or medical scientists
- Conducting basic experiments under the supervision of senior scientists, who will help guide you in your work
- Analyzing and interpreting data from your experiments
- Preparing documentation and research reports on your findings and observations
To become a laboratory assistant or technician, you’ll use many of the skills that you developed in college. For example:
- Analytical and critical skills, to help you analyze the results from your studies and draw conclusions
- Technical abilities and familiarity with lab equipment (though you will receive some on-the-job training)
- Interpersonal skills, to allow you to communicate and work easily with your superiors and colleagues
- Coordination and judgment for prioritizing, understanding and carrying out complex tasks
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you’ll make an average wage of $43,800 per year. This will depend mainly on which company you work for, and your experience. You may make as little as $29,120 or as much as $70,560.
Microbiologists usually begin their careers as biological technicians. However, if your degree included a microbiology component, you may be able to secure an entry-level microbiologist position. Microbiologists study microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
A microbiologist’s duties vary from day-to-day. They may:
- Analyze samples collected from various sources (such as humans and plants) and identify any microorganisms
- Segregate these microorganisms and maintain cultures in the laboratory
- Devise and carry out research projects, such as studying the effect of a drug on a bacterial disease
- Study how microorganisms affect the environment and other life forms
- Write reports and papers documenting your findings, and present them
To become a microbiologist, you’ll need:
- Researching such delicate lifeforms involves a lot of trial and error. You must be willing to persevere.
- Team skills. You’ll spend a lot of time working in collaboration with other researchers.
- Mathematical and logical thinking. This line of work is extremely technical. You’ll need strong statistical skills and be able to draw logical conclusions from your work.
- Good time management. Microbiologists tend to juggle several research projects at once. You’ll need to manage your time effectively to meet deadlines.
You’ll also benefit from having a keen eye for detail and the ability to stay focused for long periods of time.
The median annual wage for microbiologists is $69,960. You’ll start out earning less, progressing as you gain experience. The highest earners in this career make more than $129,560 per year, according to BLS.
3) Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
Occupational health and safety specialists have one of the most important professions. They make sure that workplaces and work procedures are safe and not detrimental to health. Though it’s not strictly biology-related, most employers will accept a degree in biology as a valid entry-level qualification.
Your regular duties could include:
- Traveling to and inspecting workplace environments and procedures to make sure that they’re safe, and that they adhere to government regulations
- Making sure that current workplace health and safety measures and policies are up to scratch
- Developing strategies to help repair hazardous working conditions, and helping to implement these procedures
- Investigating the cause of accidents and helping to prevent their future recurrence
- Educating employers and employees on health and safety and testing their knowledge
You may examine all areas of a workplace such as fire procedures, ventilation systems, and protective equipment. You will also have to write reports on your findings.
To become a health and safety specialist, you’ll need:
- Physical stamina. You’ll do a lot of traveling, and you’ll need to stand or walk for long periods while on the job.
- Communication skills are paramount in this position. You’ll need to communicate effectively to workers and employees and defuse the situation if they become aggravated.
- Technological abilities. You must be familiar with all sorts of workplace apparatus and technologies, and be able to use the sophisticated testing equipment.
- Perfectionism. You must ensure that every single aspect of the workplace follows health and safety regulations to the letter. There’s no room for error.
According to BLS, the median salary for this position is $71,780, depending on the industry you choose to work in. Hospitals (state, local and private) tend to pay their health and safety specialists the most (an average of $73,270).
4) Food Scientist
Who doesn’t love food? If you’re interested in being a part of food development, this could be the perfect job. As a food scientist, you’ll use your knowledge of biology to analyze, develop and inspect different types of food. You may even use nanotechnology to study and manipulate food on the molecular level.
Food scientists carry out a wide range of duties, depending on their specific job role. Some typical duties may include:
- Analyzing and testing food to determine its nutritional content and qualities
- Using technological equipment and methods to detect potential contaminants in food
- Discovering and developing better ways of manufacturing and packaging food
- Producing and studying ways of making food last longer
- Researching ways to safely and healthily process food at low cost
- Inspecting food preparation and processing areas to make sure that they follow government regulations
Food scientists require, more or less, the same sorts of skills that most scientists and technologists have. These include:
- Critical-thinking These will help you to extrapolate from your analyzes and conclude the best ways of answering the research aim.
- Mathematical skills. This job is particularly data and statistics-heavy. You must use your knowledge of mathematics to understand your analyses.
- Independence. You must be able to work alone on your research projects and studies, often unsupervised.
- Presentation skills. When you’ve concluded your research, you must present and explain it to your superiors.
Of course, being passionate about food will give you an advantage, too.
The median annual wage for food scientists and technologists is $63,600. You may start out earning less, and earn pay rises as you become more experienced. According to BLS, the top earners make over $116,520.
5) Medical Laboratory Technician
If you’re interested in medical jobs such as phlebotomy, but would prefer a higher-paying career, consider becoming a medical laboratory technician. You’ll only need your biology degree to get started; however, some states require laboratory staff to be licensed. To check your state’s requirements, visit the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.
A typical day in the life of a medical laboratory technician involves:
- Analyzing bodily matter such as skin and bone samples, biopsies, blood, and urine, using laboratory technology and equipment
- Recording and documenting your findings, and submitting this to patients’ medical records
- Discussing your findings with doctors and other medical staff
Some medical laboratory technicians and technologists also collect samples directly from patients. After more experience and further qualification, you’ll have the ability to specialize in a particular area. For example, you could become a blood bank technologist, whose job it is to collect, analyze and prepare blood for transfusions.
A successful medical laboratory technician must have:
- A strong stomach. You must be comfortable handling samples of bodily matter such as fecal matter and urine on a daily basis.
- Good dexterity. You’ll be using your hands to manipulate small samples, objects, and instruments such as needles.
- Technological skills. You’ll have to use specialized laboratory equipment and computer programs.
- Attention to detail. You must be able to follow specific instructions and pay attention to small changes in data.
Your starting salary, as an entry-level technician, could be somewhere in the region of $29,640. This will improve as you become more experienced and gain further accreditation. The median wage is $51,770 according to BLS.
6) Environmental Scientist
If you care about the environment, this may be the right job for you. Environmental scientists study the environment and learn how to help protect it. You can use your biology degree to help guide the government, businesses and the public on environmental hazards and considerations.
As an environmental scientist, you’ll gather data, analyze it and use it to learn about our environment. You’ll help to develop plans to reduce harm to the environment and ensure that environmental regulations are being followed correctly.
A typical day at work may involve:
- Helping to develop research projects and investigations, and plans to fix or prevent environmental concerns such as pollution
- Collecting environmental data such as air, soil and water samples
- Analyzing these samples to extrapolate information about the health of our environment
- Preparing reports, presentations and articles explaining your investigations and the results
To be a successful environmental scientist, you must have:
- Mathematical and analytical skills. There is a lot of data work and statistics involved. You must have a scientific mindset.
- Communication and oratory skills. You may need to present your findings to various audiences, including government officials.
- Technological skills. You’ll need to use computer programs to input and analyze your data.
- The flexibility to work independently, without supervision, but also as part of a team when necessary.
This vital job pays a median salary of $69,400 per year, according to the BLS. Your salary could start under $41,580 but rise with experience. You could end up earning over $122,510 per year.
7) Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
When you picture jobs with Bachelor of Science in biology, sales representative probably doesn’t spring to mind. However, with a background in biology, you’re ideally suited to working in the pharmaceutical industry, selling and promoting medications.
As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you will:
- Arrange appointments and meetings, and manage your database of clients.
- Travel to your clients’ and potential clients’ locations. This could be a doctor’s office, hospital or medical clinic.
- Inform clients of the medicines that your company offers, and how they compare to existing drugs on the market. This includes giving presentations.
- Answer any questions about the drugs you offer, their mechanisms, benefits and side effects.
- Arrange and present sales and expense reports.
As with all sales jobs, you’ll need:
- Physical stamina, as you’ll spend a lot of time traveling and on your feet.
- Organizational skills. You must make and stick to many appointments in a day, and organize your life around your work.
- Customer service skills. You need to be able to understand your clients’ needs and develop relationships with them. Any experience in customer service roles will be useful to you.
- Confidence. To sell things to people, confidence and persuasive power are key. You can’t be thrown off by an annoyed customer.
For pharmaceutical sales jobs, you’ll also need a good understanding of medicine and medical conditions. You’ll receive on-the-job training, but your biology degree will give you a head-start.
The BLS states that the median wage for technical and scientific sales reps is $78,830. This can vary drastically, however, as most sales jobs are based on commission. You’ll likely start off on a lower wage.
8) Forensic Science Technician
Forensic science technicians have some of the most interesting entry-level science jobs. They help the police to solve crimes by collecting, analyzing and linking evidence from crime scenes. Visit the American Academy of Forensic Sciences for more information.
As a forensic science technician, you’d most likely spend time both at crime scenes and in the laboratory. Your job duties would involve:
- Collecting evidence at crime scenes, such as weapons and bodily fluids, cataloging and preserving it
- Take photographs, make sketches and take notes of crime scenes
- Reconstructing crime scenes
- Analyzing evidence back in the lab, and drawing conclusions about its link to the crime and the suspect
- Writing reports on what you have discovered, and testifying in court with your evidence
As a new hire, you’ll work under supervision from more experienced technicians as there is a lot to learn.
It takes a particular type of person to become a successful forensic science technician. You should have:
- Attention to detail. You must observe and analyze very small changes at crime scenes.
- Mathematical abilities. Along with your knowledge of biology, this is a statistics-heavy job.
- Problem-solving skills. You must be able to extrapolate on what the evidence means and link it to the crime.
- A strong mental constitution. This job involves observing crime scenes which may be distressing. You must be able to work dispassionately.
You must also be willing to travel, work odd hours, and keep up with ever-changing technology.
The median wage for a forensic science technician, according to the BLS, is $57,850 per year. This may range from around $33,880 to $95,600.
9) Zoologist or Wildlife Biologist
Zoologists and wildlife biologists are two very similar entry-level life science jobs, both of which involve studying animals. Zoologists tend to study specific types of animals, while wildlife biologists study broader animal populations and ecosystems.
As a zoologist or wildlife biologist, you’ll help to develop and conduct various scientific studies and experiments. These could include:
- Studying animal characteristics, habitat, behaviors and interactions
- Monitoring wildlife populations and tracking animals’ movement
- Examining and helping to reduce humans’ detrimental effects on wild animals, and their effects on us
You may have to collect samples from animals, observe them in the wild and use technological equipment to track them. You’ll also write reports on your findings and present these to academics. Initially, you may begin by assisting senior scientists and carrying out simpler tasks. You’ll earn more responsibility as you progress in your career.
Studying animals requires many unique qualities, such as:
- Outdoor skills. You’ll spend a lot of time outdoors, in all weathers and various environments.
- Interpersonal skills. As part of a team, you must be able to negotiate, communicate with and get along with others.
- Observation skills. You must be able to observe slight changes in an animals’ behavior or patterns.
- Reasoning skills. You must be able to extrapolate from data and draw reasonable conclusions.
You’d also benefit from problem-solving and mathematical skills, mental stamina and, of course, a love of animals.
According to the BLS, zoologists and wildlife biologists earn an average salary of $62,290. This can range from $39,620 to $99,700 depending on the area, education level, and experience.
10) High School Biology Teacher
If you have a genuine love of biology, why not share your passion with the next generation? Teaching is a tiring job, but extremely rewarding. A study by the Institute of Labor Economics found that teachers are more content and have higher job satisfaction than other professionals.
As a teacher, your primary job duties would involve:
- Teaching students, in large or small classes and one-on-one
- Lesson and assignment planning
- Assessing students, grading assignments and exams
- Communicating with parents regarding their children’s education
- Supervising children outside of the classroom
Your students will range from 9th to 12th grade. You’ll need to adapt your lesson plans based on the age and abilities of students in each class.
Teachers often spend their free time planning lessons and grading assignments. However, you’ll get time off when school is not in session, such as during the summer.
Along with your bachelor’s degree, you’ll need a license to teach. Visit Teach.org to learn the requirements for your state.
As for personal qualities, you must possess:
- People skills. You’ll spend a lot of time talking to students, teachers, and parents. You must be a sociable person and find it easy to communicate.
- Confidence. Your students will challenge you daily. You’ll need the confidence to assert authority and enforce rules.
- Self-discipline. You must make time to mark exams and plan lessons outside of working hours, without getting side-tracked.
- Patience. You’ll have to be patient if your students are struggling in lessons and be willing to persevere.
Along with the above, great teachers also have humor, imagination, and resourcefulness.
According to the BLS, the median salary for a high school teacher is $59,170. The lowest 10% of high school teachers earn less than $39,080, and the highest earners bring in over $95,380.
Now that you’re familiar with the ten best entry-level jobs for biology majors, you have a great starting point. However, this list is far from exhaustive. There are hundreds of opportunities out there for graduates in biology. Try searching on job-hunting sites for entry-level positions in your area to get an idea of what’s available to you.
To give yourself more career options, you can always look into further education. Obtaining a Master’s degree in your chosen field, for instance, will widen your experience and improve your chances of finding a well-paying position. Alternatively, or alongside further training, try searching for scientific internships in your area. Although these may not pay as well, they’ll provide you with valuable experience. Some internships may even lead to permanent work at their conclusion.
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