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Biological Science Careers

Career Description

Biological Scientists study living organisms and their relationship to the environment.

Common Work Tasks

  • Study the chemical composition of living things
  • Perform research to gain a better understanding of fundamental life processes or apply that understanding to developing new products or processes
  • Prepare reports and recommendations based upon research outcomes
  • Conduct basic research to advance our knowledge of living organisms, including bacteria and other infectious agents
  • Submit grant proposals to obtain funding for projects
  • Use knowledge gained by basic research to develop new drugs, treatments, and medical diagnostic tests; increase crop yields; and develop new biofuels
  • Describe research plans or results to non-scientists who are in a position to veto or approve ideas
  • Work in teams, interacting with engineers,  scientists of other disciplines, business managers, and technicians

Other Job Titles

Biological Scientists are also known by other titles, including:

  • Microbiologists
  • Biologists
  • Biochemists and Biophysicists
  • Zoologists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A Ph.D.  degree usually is necessary for independent research, industrial research, and college teaching, as well as for advancement to administrative positions. A master’s degree is sufficient for some jobs in applied research, product development, management, or inspection; it also may qualify one to work as a research technician or a teacher. The bachelor’s degree is adequate for some non-research jobs.

Biological scientists should be able to work independently or as part of a team and be able to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing. Those in private industry, especially those who aspire to management or administrative positions, should possess strong business and communication skills and be familiar with regulatory issues and marketing and management techniques. Those doing field research in remote areas must have physical stamina. Biological scientists also must have patience and self-discipline to conduct long and detailed research projects.


The median annual salary for a Biological Scientist is $63,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $98,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $36,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of biological scientists are:

  • Federal Executive Branch - $68,520
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $52,790
  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $75,300
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing  - $70,740
  • State Government  - $57,340

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  9%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 8,000
  • Employment 2006 : 87,000
  • Employment 2016:  95,000
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