A undergraduate degree in biology is a solid foundation for professional school and further studies in science. Pair it with a minor in chemistry and you'll gain a deeper understanding of biology topics at the molecular and atomic levels, preparing you for further academic work or for lab positions. Explore some of these potential careers through volunteering and internships to solidify your future plans.
If you want to work in healthcare, a degree in biology with a chemistry minor will give you the prerequisites you need to apply to pharmacy, optometry, dentistry or medicine. Some schools are more specific about their science prerequisites than others, so make sure that you check with admissions officials early to ensure that you're getting the right science courses under your belt. Law school is also an option. Scientists and researchers need lawyers to help with patents and intellectual property protection, and professionals with a science background are well positioned to understand the concerns of their clients. Expect competition when applying to these fields. You'll need a stellar undergraduate transcript. Volunteer work or job shadowing in your area of interest will help set you apart from the pack.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only biologists with doctoral degrees can do independent research, but that doesn't mean that you can't work in a lab under supervision. Lab technician positions, as well as some applied research positions in industry, only require a bachelor's or master's degree. For example, medical lab technologists can get to work performing tests on patient blood, tissue and body fluids with just an undergraduate degree.Those holding undergraduate degrees can also find positions with food manufacturers as testers and scientists. If you're willing to put in a couple of extra years to get a master's degree, you can make your career in a more specialized area. With the appropriate graduate degree, you could find work as a forensic scientist who performs autopsies, a geologist who works with oil companies to explore deposits or a cellular biologist who works in development at a pharmaceutical company, just to name a few options.
Sales and Marketing
If you're sick of lab work after four years of undergraduate education, consider positions in the sales and marketing departments of pharmaceutical companies, environmental protection agencies and research agencies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmaceutical companies seek out salespeople with an undergraduate education and a strong background in science. You could also find work writing public release material, updating company or agency websites or organizing special events. For example, the Biotechnology Industry Organization was recently looking for a marketing coordinator with an undergraduate degree, specifically in science or marketing. Professional internship experience is invaluable if you're interested in marketing or sales.
Guiding and Teaching
WorldWideLearn suggests that those with undergraduate degrees in biology can find work as forest rangers, environmental facility tour guides or trip leaders. If you want to pass on your knowledge of biology or chemistry to the next generation, teaching science at the high school level is an option. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many school districts have trouble hiring teachers qualified to teach the sciences, making a teaching license a smart career investment for biology or chemistry degree holders.
2016 Salary Information for Biochemists and Biophysicists
Biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, biochemists and biophysicists earned a 25th percentile salary of $58,630, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $117,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 31,500 people were employed in the U.S. as biochemists and biophysicists.
- WorldWideLearn: Guide to College Majors in Biology
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Biological Scientists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Teachers
- DegreeDirectory: What Jobs are Biology Majors Qualified For?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Biochemists and Biophysicists
- Career Trend: Biochemists and Biophysicists
- scientist professor experimenting image by Canakris from Fotolia.com