There are professions with a biology degree as a prerequisite in a wide variety of areas. Those who study biology have numerous options and choices from career perspectives. Even though, many A level biology tutors give a career explanation and direction to get to the right path. The following article gives an overview.
Which professions are suitable for biologists?
Studying biology qualifies you for a number of different professions. In principle, a biologist can work in science as well as in the private sector or in the public service and exercise a wide variety of professions.
Here are some possible areas of work for biologists:
- Agriculture and Forestry
- Research and Teaching
- Medical and food industries
- Environment and nature protection
- Museum education
- Quality management
- Marketing and Sales
In addition to personal interests and the degree of the university degree, where the journey goes for biology graduates is primarily determined by specialization in individual fields.
Which degree and which additional qualifications are required naturally depends on the respective area of work. However, since 85 percent of bachelor graduates in biology also acquire a master’s degree and almost 75 percent also acquire a doctorate, biologists with a doctorate usually have a significantly greater chance of their dream job.
Professions in Biology: An Overview
Where do biologists work? Not an easy question to answer, because a degree in biology lays the foundation for many career opportunities inside and outside the university environment. Whether in the field of molecular biology, microbiology, biotechnology or other specialist areas – the selection of jobs for biologists is large and the specialist areas are complex. Since the competition is also extremely high, early orientation and specialization is particularly important for biologists.
Biology professions in the private sector
Biologists who work in the private sector mostly work in the pharmaceutical, chemical, food or cosmetics industries. However, there are also biologists in engineering, energy, and other fields. The tasks can be very different and, in addition to research and development of new processes and products, also include sales, marketing or quality management. Anyone who can find themselves in one of these areas or to whom particularly good pay is important should qualify for the relevant area as early as possible and gain practical experience.
Areas of work for biologists in the private sector are, for example:
- Product or process development
- Approval and registration of drugs
- Scientific Advice
- Quality management
- Marketing and Public Relations
The advantages of a biology job in the private sector are clearly the attractive income opportunities in large companies and the prospect of a permanent position. Disadvantages lie in the required economic efficiency of the activity: In particular, higher positions usually include the pressure to deliver quick results and lead employees accordingly.
Professions for biologists in research and teaching
In the field of teaching, biologists work, for example, at schools, vocational schools, universities, technical colleges and other educational institutions. While a teaching degree is generally sufficient for teaching at a school or vocational school, a doctorate or habilitation is a prerequisite for teaching at a university.
Research in the field of biology is carried out at universities and research institutes as well as in corporate research departments. In this area, the necessary qualifications are sometimes very different. However, if you are aiming for a scientific career, at least a doctorate is essential.
If the decision is made in the field of research, after completing your doctorate, for example, a temporary position as a postdoc, a freelance work as a lecturer or an application for a position as a research officer may be considered. If a habilitation and a professorship are also sought, it is possible to concentrate primarily on research at the university or to apply for a junior professorship.
Examples of biologist jobs in research are:
- Laboratory manager
- Research officer or manager
- Scientific advisor
- Science manager
A university career also has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, the qualification usually takes more time and the chances of permanent positions are rather low. On the other hand, working at a university is usually free and allows you to devote yourself entirely to research and teaching without being subject to economic pressure. Unfortunately, the positions in research and teaching at universities and schools are rare, which is why an above-average qualification is usually required.
Biology jobs in public service
There are also various areas of application for biologists in the public service sector. For example, if there is a particular interest in environmental protection and sustainability, a job with an environmental authority such as a state institute for the environment or with associations and clubs is conceivable. If the interest is particularly in the medical field, hospitals, the police or the armed forces can also be considered as employers.
Areas of work for biologists in the public service include:
- Project collaboration
- scientific collaboration
- Biological/technical assistance
- (Group) leadership
- Knowledge transfer in museums, zoos and parks
Working in the public service can be seen as a middle ground. Compared to teaching at a university, the requirements are generally easier to meet and the pressure is less than in the private sector. So, if both safety and good working conditions are more important to you than a manager’s salary, you will probably feel more comfortable in the public service than in the private sector or at university. One disadvantage, however, is that the number of vacancies in this area is limited.
Biologists in media professions
Biologists with a passion and talent for writing can work as science journalists for radio and television, magazines, book publishers, digital media and in marketing departments. Excellent knowledge of relevant information is required for all areas. Internships with publishers or agencies are also recommended in any case – preferably already during your studies.
Also important skills in science journalism are:
- Very good feeling for the language
- Quick grasp
- Ability to present complex relationships in a simple manner
Liberal professions with biology
Biologists who prefer to work freelance or even start a company should know the market particularly well, be well networked and, at best, look for a niche that is in high demand. For example, there is currently a great need to develop energy-efficient and environmentally friendly production processes. This is where bio-ecologists, biotechnologists and experts in synthetic biology come into play.
Possible work areas for independent biologists:
- Advice, planning and preparation of expert reports for companies and authorities
- Contract research
- Science journalism
- Implementation of seminars (online or offline)
- Product development
- Environmental analysis
- Food science
Biologists who want to start their own business should have entrepreneurial and commercial skills and be able to identify with an area that promises high demand.
Regardless of the options presented here, the following always applies when choosing a career as a biologist: Find out as early as possible in which direction your career should develop and check how good the career prospects are in the respective area. In order to improve your own chances, it is advisable to gain practical experience during your studies in the form of internships or activities as a working student or student assistant. It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with the job market in advance discuss and sift through job advertisements in the field of biology. This gives you a better idea of which professions are in increasing demand and allows you to better assess which skills and qualifications are required for the respective professions.