What Can You Do With a Biology Degree? | Top Universities

What Can You Do With a Biology Degree?

By Laura T

Updated April 20, 2021 Updated April 20, 2021

Biological science is the study of life and is therefore one of the broadest subjects you can study. Biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes right up to the study of animal and plant communities.

Read on to find out where your biology degree could take you, and download our guide on how to find a job after university.

So, what can you do with a biology degree?

Biology degrees are extensive, so as you might expect, careers for biology graduates are equally as wide-ranging. Careers you could pursue with a biology degree include:

Biology careers can lead you to study living organisms 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.

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, although further study often isn’t necessary for many.

Read on to find out more about the selection of typical – and less typical – biology careers available for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Typical careers with a biology degree

Biology careers in research

Scientific research is not only crucial within society but also a highly stimulating career for biology graduates. As a research biologist you’ll 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, research institutes, medical facilities and hospitals, and also within business and industry.

Biology careers in healthcare

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.

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

As an environmental biologist you’ll be interested in solving environmental problems and helping to protect natural resources and plant and animal wildlife to conserve and sustain them for future generations. Careers with a biology degree which fall under this remit 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’ll be equipped to work within education. You’ll 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’ll 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

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.

Below is a selection of some of the less conventional careers you can pursue 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’ll 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 socioeconomics (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

Lastly, what can you do with a biology degree if you’re also interested in the world of media? You might be surprised to discover that media and journalism careers with a biology degree are fairly wide-ranging as well. If you’re 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’ll be able to play a role in informing and educating the general public about biological issues that are becoming relevant in contemporary society.

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‘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.

This article was originally published in August 2014. It was most recently updated in December 2019.

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This article was originally published in August 2014 . It was last updated in April 2021

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

Written by

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.

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