For a lot of biology careers, the career
path is through the research laboratory - graduate students,
after earning their Bachelor's of Science (BS) degrees, do small
research projects inside the parameters of what a particular
academic lab (or sometimes, a combination of labs) are doing.
Students earn advanced degrees - Master of Science
degrees (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy degrees (PhD) - in
graduate school. From there, they may move in postdoctoral
research, similar to graduate research and kind of a "holding
pattern" for careers, where they will eventually teach, and/or running their own academic labs or
working in industry.
A page describing the
science education process.
Students don't really go on to become
"biologists" today - eventually, they will settle into one of
the vast number of subfields within biology. Students in an
Introductory Biology course have a wide variety of motivations for being
there. Some have the course as a requirement for their non-biology
major, some have a clear idea of what they want to do eventually, and some
have only the most vague concept and may not even be sure that taking such
a starting course is a good idea.
In biological disciplines, many first-year students are
intending to go into medicine. Be warned! Getting into
medical school, or veterinary school, is extremely difficult and
comparable to getting into the best universities as an
undergraduate: not only will you need close-to-flawless grades, but
the deciding factors may be extracurricular, everything from ethnic
background and hometown to what sorts of extraordinary accomplishments or
training you may have. It is an unfortunate fact of life that
the vast majority of freshman who see themselves as "pre-med" or
"pre-vet" will not even finish their undergraduate education
still in the sciences; the fraction of these freshman who go on to
medical careers is almost comparable to the fraction of college athletes who
become professional ones (that's an exaggeration, but not much of one).
Also, be aware that specialty training is expensive -
unlike graduate school, where the school pays the students (not
well, but still...), you will probably taking out huge loans for
medical / veterinary / dental / optometry school.
There is, however, a lot of medical research going on
that is not done by doctors, so not making the grades for medical school
will not necessarily keep you from a career in medicine. In fact,
most biologists doing research today are likely in a field at least
to human health - it's where the funding is.
In the near future, it
is expected that a lot of technical jobs - folks doing sophisticated
laboratory work, such as clinical chemists and several types of
medical technologists - will come available, as around half of the
people currently working these fields are within a decade of
Some other biology subfields are popular but offer small
hope of a successful career - there just aren't that many jobs
available. These would include marine biology, wildlife biology,
paleontology. Careers in marine and wildlife biology may lead to the
handful of marine research labs, but both will probably only lead to jobs as college professors at research universities
or fairly low-level jobs in the particular field.
for medical school.
Getting into veterinary school.
Costs for one particular veterinary school.
Medical technologist jobs.
Clinical chemist jobs (which many biologists have the skills for).
biologist jobs ("highly competitive").
"Forensics Biology" is a very broad designation.
This book section deals with biology on the molecular level,
which is the level at which most of modern research is done. Molecular
biology, genetics, neuroscience, immunology, embryology and development,
and other similar fields left the "see it with the naked eye"
region long ago and are investigated in terms of what the molecules are
doing. Ecology is less molecular-based, but is primarily a
statistics-driven field. Statistics (translation: math with a heavy
dose of computer applications) figure prominently in several
other areas as well.
Genetic engineering may become during your
lifetime what computers became during your parents', as
beyond medicine may play out their wide-ranging potential.
Biotechnology companies may be to this generation what computer-based
companies were to the last.
Bioinformatics represent the intersection of sophisticated
computer systems and biology, mostly molecular biology. The type of
analysis, data collection, and database establishment that can be done
with computers has led to this specialty of biotechnology. As
DNA-sequencing technology improves, a need for people who can design
ways to analyze the sequences increases. Basically, our
ability to gather and catalog information has far outstripped out
ability to figure out what it all means.
A source of genetic engineering
The potential of genetic engineering.
More information on bioinformatics