Job Outlook

Employment of biologists is expected to increase much faster than the average for all occupations. (U.S. Department of Labor).


Biotechnological research and development continues to be on demand, as a result, Biological Scientists enjoy very rapid employment gains over the past few decades. Furthermore, employment of biological scientists is projected to grow 21 percent over the 2008-2018 decade. This is a much faster than the average growth of all occupations, indicating, in part, the growth of the biotechnology industry.

In recent years, most of the basic biological research has resulted in new knowledge in molecular biology, such as, the isolation and identification of genes. Therefore, Biologists will be needed to take this knowledge to the next level, understanding how certain genes function within an entire organism, so that new medical treatments can be developed to effectively treat various diseases. Even pharmaceutical and other firms use molecular techniques extensively, spurring employment for biological scientists. For example, biologists are continuing to help farmers increase crop yields by isolating genes that can help crops, such as wheat, grow in extreme climate conditions.

The Federal Government is a major source of funding for basic research and development, including many areas of medical research that relate to biological science. Large budget increases at the National Institutes of Health in the early part of the decade led to increases in Federal basic research and development expenditures, with research grants growing both in number and dollar amount.

Additionally, the need of new and improved methods to clean up and preserve the environment will continue to add to job growth. More biologists-toxicologists will be needed to determine the environmental impact of industry and government actions and to prevent or correct environmental problems, such as the negative effects of pesticide use.

Biologists will find opportunities in environmental regulatory agencies, while others will use their expertise to advise lawmakers on legislation to save environmentally sensitive areas. New industrial applications of biotechnology, such as new methods for producing bio-fuels, also will stimulate the demand for biological scientists.

Job prospects

Graduates with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology are expected to have additional opportunities in nonscientist jobs related to biology, in fields like sales, marketing, publishing, and research management. Non-Ph.D.s also may fill positions as science or engineering technicians or as medical health technologists and technicians. Some become high school biology teachers.

Biological scientists are less likely to lose their jobs during recessions than those in other occupations, because many are employed in the government, or on long-term research projects.

Biomedical Science

Employment of medical scientists is expected to increase 40 percent over the 2008-18 decade, much faster than the average for all occupations. Medical scientists have enjoyed rapid gains in employment since the 1980s.

Biomedical scientists are researching the cause of human diseases and conditions to improve human health. More specifically, they study biological systems and try to identify cellular and chromosomal alterations that signal the initiation of human disease and other medical problems. This knowledge is utilized to develop treatments and design research tools and techniques for medical applications.

In addition, medical scientists are seeking ways to prevent health problems. For example, they may study the association between smoking and lung cancer or between alcoholism and liver disease.

Most medical scientists conduct biomedical research to advance knowledge of life processes and of other living organisms that affect human health, including viruses, bacteria, and other infectious agents.

Basic medical research continues to support the foundation for new vaccines, drugs, and treatment procedures. Medical scientists work in laboratory research, clinical investigation, cancer research, technical writing, drug development, regulatory review, and related activities.

Earnings (biology-biotechnology-toxicology) from U.S. Department of Labor

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, beginning salary offers in July 2009 averaged $33,254 a year for bachelor’s degree recipients in biological and life sciences.

According to Society of Toxicology, entry level Toxicologists with a B.S. degree earn $ 35,000 a year, and senior level more than $ 100,000 a year.

In the Federal Government in March 2009, microbiologists earned an average annual salary of $97,264; ecologists, $84,283; physiologists, $109,323; geneticists, $99,75

Median annual wages of biochemists and biophysicists were $82,840 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $59,260 and $108,950. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $44,320, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $139,440.

Median annual wages of biochemists and biophysicists employed in scientific research and development services were $85,870 in May 2008.

Median annual wages of microbiologists were $64,350 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $48,330 and $87,040. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,300.

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