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Biological Sciences
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Area

Research and Development

  • Basic
  • Applied

  • Quality control
  • Administration

  • Grant writing

Employers

  • Industry and laboratories:
    • Pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture, food processing and safety, environmental, biotechnology
  • Private research institutions
  • Public health departments

  • State and federal government:
    • National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Armed Services, and Department of Homeland Security
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

  • Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments.
  • Select courses with laboratory components, and seek research experience with professors.
  • Gain related experience through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteering.
  • Complete a certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized laboratory techniques.
  • Take a course in grant writing, as often research is grant-funded.
  • A bachelor’s degree in biology qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions.
  • Earn master’s degree for advancement opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay.
  • Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams.
  • Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations to gain admittance into graduate school.

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry

  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary medicine

  • Allied health: occupational therapy, physical therapy
  • Medical technology
  • Nuclear medicine

Employers

  • Group or private practice
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Health networks
  • Nursing homes

  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Mental health institutions
  • Federal, state, and local health departments
  • Government agencies

  • Armed services
  • Correctional facilities
  • Colleges or universities
  • Medical schools
  • Large corporations

Strategies

  • Plan to attend medical school or other related graduate program.
  • Meet with a pre-health adviser periodically to discuss curricular decisions.
  • Maintain a high grade point average, particularly in the sciences, to improve chances of admission to graduate or professional school.
  • Research accredited institutions. Check graduation rates, success rates on licensing exams, cost, location, etc. Speak with current students.
  • Secure strong faculty recommendations.
  • Join related student organizations and demonstrate leadership abilities.
  • Seek experience in healthcare settings through volunteering, shadowing, part-time jobs, or internships.
  • Research various fields within medicine to determine career goals, and develop a back-up plan in case medical/graduate school admission is denied.

Area

Biomedical Sciences

  • Some areas of specialization:
    • Biophysics
    • Biochemistry
    • Cellular and molecular biology

  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Pathology

  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Virology

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Professional schools:  colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture
  • Federal government:
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Food and Drug Administration

  • State and local public health departments
  • Clinics and hospitals
  • Private research foundations

  • Independent laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical companies

Strategies

  • Gain laboratory experience through coursework and faculty-led research projects.
  • Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments.
  • Seek internships, part-time employment and volunteer opportunities in the biomedical field.  Utilize your campus career center for assistance securing government internships.
  • Take courses in area(s) of specialization, such as genetics or pharmacology.
  • Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest to maintain knowledge of your desired field.
  • Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research and management positions, which requires  navigating a competitive admissions process with strong faculty recommendations, grades, and relevant experience.

Area

Organismal/Ecological Biology

Structure, Function, Development, Evolution

  • Some areas of specialization:
    • Botany
    • Ecology: Behavioral, community, ecosystem, evolutionary, population biology

  • Conservation biology
  • Entomology
  • Marine biology
  • Genetics

  • Microbiology: Bacteria, algae, fungi, molds, yeasts, viruses, protozoa
  • Taxonomy
  • Zoology

Employers

  • Colleges and universities, especially colleges of agriculture and veterinary medicine
  • Veterinary hospitals
  • State and federal government:
    • National Science Foundation
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture

  • Independent laboratories:
    • Food production
    • Textiles
    • Agriculture
    • Pharmaceutical
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Fish hatcheries
  • Wildlife preserves and parks
  • Conservation agencies
  • Botanical gardens and arboretums

  • Museums
  • Agricultural experiment stations
  • Inspection agencies and control boards
  • National and international environmental organizations
  • Private recreation organizations

Strategies

  • Conduct research or assist in research including the collection of information and samples of water, soil, plants, animals, etc.
  • Pursue extensive laboratory and research experience by working with faculty, through independent research classes, as a student employee, or through other departmental programs.
  • Plan to gain related part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer experiences.
  • Seek additional coursework in an area of specialty (e.g., botany, ecology, genetics).
  • Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest.
  • Build relationships with faculty who can serve as graduate school references, and maintain a high GPA for competitive admission to medical school.
  • Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching, advanced research, and management positions.

Area

Biotechnology

  • Medicine
  • Agriculture

  • Food science
  • Biological engineering

  • Bioremediation
  • Environmental protection/Regulation

Employers

  • Biotechnology companies:
    • Agricultural chemicals
    • Food safety
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Medical device and equipment
    • Research and testing

  • Federal government:
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Centers for Disease Control
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture

  • Plant propagation and production businesses
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

  • Gain practical experience conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, and using laboratory/field techniques in collaboration with professors and through internships.
  • Hone your ability to gather, assess, evaluate, interpret, and share technical and scientific information.
  • Seek current knowledge of medical, agricultural, pharmaceutical, or environmental issues, trends, regulations.
  • Join horticultural, agronomy, biotechnology clubs or other student professional associations to network and cultivate related academic interests.
  • Pursue a master’s or doctoral degree to specialize and for advancement in the field.  Some federal and private agency and research positions require a graduate degree.
  • Maintain a strong grade point average to be competitive for graduate school admission.

Area

Bioinformatics

  • Algorithm and statistical techniques
  • Data analysis and interpretation

  • Information management
  • Organization and retrieval

Employers

  • Colleges and universities
  • Private research foundations
  • Software development firms

  • Biotechnology companies:
    • Agricultural chemicals
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Medical device and equipment
    • Research and testing

  • Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies:
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture

Strategies

  • Develop multiple areas of specialization through coursework, minors, double-majors in molecular biology, mathematics, statistics, computer science, or machine learning.
  • Develop strong programming and database management skills; fluency in several programming languages is helpful.
  • Learn biological software systems.
  • Complete an internship in the areas of tool building, usage, or maintenance.
  • Seek master’s or Ph.D. degree for increased advancement opportunities.

Area

Education

  • Teaching:
    • Elementary
    • Secondary
    • Post-secondary
  • Non-classroom education

Employers

  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Two-year community colleges/technical institutes
  • Four-year colleges and universities

  • Professional schools: Colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture

  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Nature centers and parks

Strategies

  • Gain experience working with students through tutoring, part-time employment, or volunteering.
  • Learn to work well with people of varying backgrounds and skills.
  • Develop excellent interpersonal, communication, and content area knowledge.
  • Complete a teacher preparation program for K-12 positions, which varies by state.  A major in content area is required for secondary education in most states.
  • Master’s degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community or two-year institutions.
  • Seek Ph.D. for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.
 

Area

Communication

  • Technical writing
  • Editing

  • Illustrating
  • Photography

  • Public relations

Employers

  • Publishing companies: Scientific magazines, professional journals, periodicals, textbooks, and online publishers
  • Newspapers

  • Educational and scientific software companies
  • Zoological and environmental societies
  • Medical, dental, and veterinary colleges
  • Research centers

  • Federal government agencies
  • Related nonprofit organizations
  • Museums

Strategies

  • Acquire thorough knowledge of photographic procedures and technology.
  • Take specific courses in biological, medical, and ophthalmic photography; courses in illustration and printing are also helpful.
  • Develop strong writing skills and command of the English language.
  • Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism classes or consider a minor in either.
  • Join professional associations like the National Association of Science Writers or the Public Relations Student Society of America.
  • Seek related volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications to increase marketability.
  • Consider earning an advanced degree in a communications field to specialize (e.g., scientific journalism or public relations).
 

Area

Legislation/Law

  • Lobbying
  • Regulatory affairs

  • Environmental law
  • Science policy
  • Patent law

  • Nonprofit or public interest
  • Mediation

Employers

  • Law firms
  • Corporations

  • State and federal government:
    •  Department of Energy
    •  Environmental Protection Agency

  • Environmental compliance services companies
  • Regulatory commissions
  • Advocacy organizations

Strategies

  • Develop strong research and writing skills.  Enhance communication skills through public speaking courses, debate team, or Toast Masters (a public speaking organization).
  • Maintain current knowledge of industry trends, laws and policies specific to area of interest (e.g., environment, food safety, regulatory programs).
  • Acquire internships in federal or state government. Utilize applicable websites and seek assistance from your college career center.
  • Take courses in history, political science and/or legal studies to supplement science curriculum.
  • To pursue a J.D., participate in mock trial and pre-law associations, learn law school admissions process.

Area

Business/Industry

  • Technical and pharmaceutical sales
  • Management
  • Consulting
  • Marketing

Employers

  • Manufacturing companies:
    • Food/feed
    • Agricultural chemicals
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Medical device and equipment
    • Consumer products
  • Marketing firms
  • Consulting firms

Strategies

  • Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills, and demonstrate a high energy level.
  • Take courses in anatomy, pharmacology, and chemistry to supplement curriculum.  Consider a business minor.
  • Seek experience through part-time jobs and internships in business; experience in sales may be necessary for some positions.
  • Join related student associations and pursue leadership positions.
  • Be prepared to start in entry level positions, such as management trainee programs.
  • Consider an MBA or Professional Science Master’s to advance into higher levels of business management, consulting, research, and brand management.

General Information

  • A bachelor’s degree will qualify one for work as a laboratory assistant, technician, technologist, or research assistant in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens
  • An undergraduate degree can also be used for nontechnical work in writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation
  • A master’s degree allows for greater specialization in a field and more opportunities in research and Some community colleges will hire master’s level teachers.
  • Doctoral degrees are necessary for advanced research and administrative positions, university teaching, and independent research
  • The biological sciences are good preparation for a career in healthcare that generally requires a professional degree and license such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science
  • Learn laboratory procedures and become familiar with equipment
  • Obtain summer, part-time, volunteer, co-op, or internship experience to test the fields of interest and gain valuable experience. Take independent research classes if possible.
  • Participate in summer research institutes. Submit research to local poster competitions or research symposiums.
  • Develop strong analytical, computer, mathematics, scientific, and interpersonal communication skills.
  • Join professional associations and community organizations to stay abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts.
  • Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.
  • Maintain a high grade point average to improve chances of graduate and professional school admission.
  • Become familiar with the specific entrance exam for graduate or professional schools in your area of interest.
  • Secure strong relationships and personal recommendations from professors and/or employers.
  • Consider completing a post-doctoral experience after graduate school.
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application processes.
  • Gain experience with grant writing and fundraising techniques, research is often grant-funded.