You are here

What Can You Do With a Biology Degree?

What Can You Do With a Biology Degree? main image

Biological science is one of the broadest and most important subjects in the world today. Put simply, biology is the study of life. Biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes right up to the study of animal and plant communities. Read on for advice on where your biology degree could take you, and download our guide on how to find a job after university for more advice. 

So, what can you do with a biology degree?

With the study of life being so broad, it stands to reason that biology degree graduates undertake similarly broad and wide-ranging careers. Depending on individual interests, biology careers can lead you on to study living organisms such as animals, plants, humans or even bacteria, to help develop biological knowledge and understanding of living processes for a number of different purposes, including treatment of disease and sustaining the natural environment.

Although further study isn’t necessary for a number of biology careers, many biology degree graduates choose to study at postgraduate level within a specialization or related field, in order to further their expertise and help career progression.

Below is a selection of typical – and less typical – biology careers for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Typical careers with a biology degree

Biology careers in research

One of the most popular answers to the question ‘what can you do with a biology degree?’ is a big, emphatic ‘RESEARCH’! Scientific research is not only crucial within society but also a highly stimulating career. As a research biologist you will aim to develop knowledge of the world around us by studying living organisms. Careers in research provide perhaps the broadest scope of all careers with a biology degree, as research can be conducted across all specializations. Most common is research within the medical and life sciences, covering areas such as health and disease, neurology, genomics, microbiology and pharmacology. Researchers help to develop societal knowledge within many areas and, with the right additional qualifications, can be found within academia (mainly universities and other higher education institutions), research institutes, medical facilities and hospitals, and also within business and industry.

Biology careers in healthcare

Healthcare is another sector offering many common careers with a biology degree. Working in healthcare as a biologist will see you developing campaigns to help treat and cure illnesses such as AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis, heart disease, and many lesser-known illnesses and diseases. Although many roles are out of reach to students holding just an undergraduate degree (such as doctor and practitioner roles), the sector has a huge hiring capacity, and biologists are well sought-after in the medical world. As well as treating and developing human health, healthcare biologists with the necessary qualifications and experience also work as veterinarians, doctors, nurses, dentists and other healthcare professionals. Biologists are recruited not only within hospitals and other medical facilities; they are also hired by organizations such as the Peace Corps in order to bring advanced healthcare to developing and war-torn regions.

Biology careers in environmental conservation

Of course humans aren’t the only living things on the planet, and an environmental biologist’s aim is to conserve and sustain the full spectrum of the world’s organisms, for future generations. As an environmental biologist you will be interested in solving environmental problems and helping to protect natural resources and plant and animal wildlife. Careers with a biology degree which fall under this realm include marine and/or aquatic biologist, zoo biologist, conservation biologist, ecologist and environmental manager. Biologists in these roles carry out recovery programs for endangered species and provide education for the general public. Hiring industries include charities and not-for-profit organizations, government and the public sector and ecological consultancies.

Biology careers in education

With a biology degree and a teaching qualification you will be equipped to work within education. You will enjoy working with young people and encouraging them to learn about the world, be that in a classroom, a lecture theater, a laboratory or a museum. The higher up in the education world you go, the more qualifications you will need; for instance, a university lecturer will often be required to have gained a master’s degree or even a PhD, while a primary or secondary school teacher will usually only need an undergraduate degree and a teacher training qualification. If you do choose to undertake further study and go on to work within higher education, you may be able to produce your own research, have your work published and/or become a member of an advisory board within your field.

Less typical careers with a biology degree

What can you do with a biology degree if you don’t want to go into a typical medical or academic role? The answer is, more or less anything you want. A biology degree will equip you with many transferable skills that are sought-after in the workplace, whether that workplace is within a scientific industry or not. Of the less typical careers available to biology degree graduates, below is a selection of some of the most exciting and relevant answers to the question of what can you do with a biology degree:

Careers in biotechnology

Biotechnology is the use of scientific principles to develop and enhance technology within a number of sectors, including the consumer goods market, the technology market and business and industry. Focuses are often within agriculture, food science and medicine, where biotechnologists can be involved with genetic engineering, drug development and advancing medical technologies such as nanotechnology.

Careers in forensic science

As a forensic scientist you will be working within the legal sector, alongside police departments or law enforcement agencies, in order to test and process evidence gathered in criminal investigations. Many forensic scientists specialize in specific areas such as forensic odontology (dental evidence), forensic anthropology (the examination human of decomposition), crime scene examination and medical examiner roles (requiring further study).

Careers in government and policy

Biology careers in government will involve working closely with government officials and policy makers in order to advise on and create new legislation for growing topics such as biomedical research and environmental regulation. Your role will be to ensure that changes to the legal system are made based on solid science. You may work at regional or national level as a political advisor for scientific organizations and agencies or not-for-profit entities. You may also act as a representative for a political committee or group.

Careers in business and industry

The pharmaceutical sector is a multi-billion dollar industry, and is in constant need of biologists to work in research and development and to test new products and prepare them for the marketplace. Other commercial industries where biologists may find roles include scientific services companies, marketing, sales and public relations.

Careers in economics

If you have a strong numerical brain, you may want to go pursue a career in biological economics. This will require you to work within government or other organizations to examine the economic impact of biological problems on society, including such problems as extinction, deforestation and pollution. Related roles include socio-economics (focused on humans), environmental economics (focused on preserving natural capital) and ecological economics (focused on the connection between natural ecosystems and human economies).

Careers in science publishing and communication

And, lastly, what can you do with a biology degree if you are also interested in the world of media? You might be surprised to realize that media and journalism careers with a biology degree are fairly wide-ranging as well. If you are interested in publishing or journalism you may want to use your biology degree to enter the industry as a science writer or working on a science publication such as a journal, magazine, website, TV program or film. Within these roles you will be able to play a role in informing and educating the general public about biological issues that are becoming relevant in contemporary society.

---

‘What Can You Do With a Biology Degree?’ is part of our ‘What Can You Do With…’ series. We have also covered artbusinesscommunicationscomputer scienceEnglishengineeringfashionfinancehistorygeographylawmarketingmathematicsperforming artsphilosophypolitics, psychologysociologychemistryeconomics and physics.

Want more content like this? Register for free site membership to get regular updates and your own personal content feed.

nabil c, Alice M & 5 others saved this
Laura Tucker's profile image
Written by Laura Tucker
Laura is a former staff writer for TopUniversities.com, providing advice and guidance for students on a range of topics helping them to choose where to study, get admitted and find funding and scholarships. A graduate of Queen Mary University of London, Laura also blogs about student life.

Want to leave a comment?

Please login or register to post
comment above our articles

9 Comments

Hi
Can I get a really cheap tuition university to study horticulture?.

Hi Deborah, I'm not sure about specific low-cost universities for your course, however you can read about affordable study abroad destinations here, and you might like to look for a scholarship to help with costs - we've listed a range of agriculture scholarships here. Hope this helps! 

or in Medical Biological sceince

Hi Michael, have you seen our US and Canada country guides? Here you'll find practical information about studying in these countries. Unfortunately, entry requirements vary widely, so to find out exactly what qualifications you'll need, you should research individual universities. To find the world's top universities in your subject, see our subject rankings. (Bear in mind, the further up the rankings you go, the higher the entry requirements are likely to be). Entry requirements can be found on each university's website. Good luck, Laura

laura i wanna study Biological science (Enviromental conservation) iam an IGCSE student From Egypt ....iam in Grade 10 ....i already take 4 O levels subject and i wanne know what else i have to study to complete my education in usa or Canada .....i want to know any university requirments that accept OL and how many OL and AL i have to study more ....i hope that you can help me iam really tired from searching

Laura i wanna know about the universties requirments from the IGCSE students in USA or Canada Or Germany

Hi Michael. Admission requirements will vary depending on the course you want to study, and the universities you apply to. Always check the details provided on the official university website to ensure you meet all the requirements, and if you're uncertain you can always contact the university directly, via email or phone.

Laura, what's the scope for microbiology and biotechnology in European countries as well as the US?

Hi Muhammad, biotechnology and microbiology are huge industries in Europe and the UK and more and more new university programs are beginning to show this. We have a ranking of the world's top universities for biological sciences but in order to find which schools offer the program you are after, you will probably need to research their available programs via their profile or website. Good luck, Laura