What Can I Do with a Major in...Biological Sciences

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AREAS
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Basic
Applied
Quality Control
Administration
Grant Writing

EMPLOYERS
Industry and laboratories:  pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture production, food processing and safety, environmental
Private research institutions
Public health departments
State and federal government:  National Science Foundation, National
Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental
Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, Armed Services,
Department of Homeland Security
State and local governmental laboratories/agencies
Colleges and universities

STRATEGIES
Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and
equipment, and monitor experiments.  Select courses with laboratory
components
Seek research experience with professors.  Gain related experience
through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteering.  Complete a
certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized
laboratory techniques
Take a course in grant writing.  A bachelor's degree in biology
qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant
positions.  Earn master's degree for better positions, advancement
opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay. 
Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams. 
Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty
recommendations to gain admittance into graduate school.

AREAS
ORGANISMAL BIOLOGY
Some Areas of Specialization:
Botany and plant sciences
Ecology and wildlife
Marine and aquatic
Systematic (Taxonomy)
Zoology
Entomology
Genetics
Microbiology:  bacteria, algae, fungi, molds, yeasts, viruses, protozoa

EMPLOYERS
Colleges and universities, especially colleges of agriculture and veterinary medicine
Veterinary hospitals
State and federal government:  Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Health
Independent laboratories:  food production, textiles, chemical, pharmaceutical, and forestry products
Zoos and aquariums
Fish hatcheries
Wildlife preserves and parks
Conservation agencies
Botanical gardens and arboretums
Museums
Agricultural experiment stations
Inspection agencies and control boards
National and international environmental organizations
Private recreation organizations

STRATEGIES
Seek related experience through coursework, part-time jobs,
internships or volunteering.  Conduct research or assist in research
including the collection of information and samples of water, soil,
plants, animals, etc.  Join student chapters of professional
organizations related to your area of interest.  Obtain a Ph.D. for
teaching and advanced research and management positions.

AREAS
BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
Some areas of specialization:
Biophysics
Biochemistry
Cellular and Molecular Biology
Cytology
Genetics
Immunology
Pathology
Pharmacology
Physiology
Virology

EMPLOYERS
Colleges and universities
Professional schools including colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture
Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies:  National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration
State and local public health departments
Clinics and hospitals
Private research foundations
Independent laboratories
Pharmaceutical companies

STRATEGIES
Gain laboratory experience through coursework and/or research
projects with professors.  Learn to set up, operate, and maintain
laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments.  Seek
internships, part-time employment and volunteer opportunities in the
biomedical field.  Join student chapters of professional organizations
related to your area of interest.  Take courses in area(s) of
specialization and/or consider an advanced degree.  Obtain a Ph.D. for
teaching and advanced research and management positions.

AREAS
HEALTHCARE
Medicine
Dentistry
Optometry
Podiatry
Pharmacy
Veterinary medicine
Allied Health:  occupational therapy, physical therapy
Medical technology
Nuclear medicine

EMPLOYERS
Hospitals
Medical centers and clinics
Nursing homes
Private practice
Armed services
Government agencies

STRATEGIES
Plan on attending medical school or other related graduate program. 
Maintain an outstanding grade point average, particularly in the
sciences.  Secure strong faculty recommendations.  Meet with a
pre-health advisor periodically.  Join related student organizations
and demonstrate leadership abilities.  Seek experiences in hospital or
healthcare settings through volunteering, shadowing, part-time
positions, or internships.  Develop a back up plan in case
medical/graduate school admission in denied.  Consider alternative but
related careers such as physician assistants.  Research all of the
various fields within medicine to determine career goals.

AREAS
BIOINFORMATICS
Algorithm and statistics development
Data analysis and interpretation
Information management:  organization and retrieval

EMPLOYERS
Colleges and universities
Private research foundations
Independent laboratories:  organic and agricultural chemicals, drug
and pharmaceutical, medical device and equipment, research, testing,
and medical
Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies:  National Institutes of
Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency,
Department of Agriculture
National Biological Information Infrastructure

STRATEGIES
Develop multiple areas of specialization through coursework, minors,
double-majors in molecular biology, mathematics, statistics, computer
science, or machine learning.  Develop strong programming and database
management skills; fluency in several programming languages is helpful. 
Learn biological software systems.  Complete an internship in area of
interest.  Seek master's degree for increased advancement
opportunities.

AREAS
EDUCATION
Teaching:  elementary, secondary, post-secondary
Non-classroom Education

EMPLOYERS
Universities and colleges
Medical and other professional schools
Public and private schools, K-12
Museums
Zoos
Nature centers and parks

STRATEGIES
Gain experience working with students through tutoring, part-time
employment, interning, or volunteering.  Learn to work well with all
types of people.  Develop excellent interpersonal and public speaking
skills.  Certification is required for K-12 schoolteachers and varies
by state.  Master's degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community
or two-year institutions.  Ph.D. is needed for teaching opportunities
at colleges and universities.

AREAS
COMMUNICATION
Technical Writing
Editing
Illustrating
Photography

EMPLOYERS
Publishing companies including scientific magazines, professional journals, periodicals, textbooks, and online publishers
Newspapers
Educational and scientific software companies
Zoological and environmental societies
Medical, dental and veterinary colleges
Research centers
Federal government agencies
Related nonprofit organizations
Museums

STRATEGIES
Acquire thorough knowledge of photographic procedures and
technology.  Take specific courses in biological, medical, and
ophthalmic photography; courses in illustration and printing are also
helpful.  Develop strong writing skills and command of the English
language.  Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism
classes or consider a minor in either.  Join professional associations
like the National Association of Science Writers.  Seek related
volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications to
increase marketability.  Obtain an advanced degree in scientific
journalism.

AREAS
LEGISLATION/LAW
Lobbying
Regulatory Affairs
Science Policy
Patent Law
Environmental Law

EMPLOYERS
Federal and state government
Law firms
Large corporations

STRATEGIES

Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills.  Maintain
current knowledge of industry-specific laws and policies.  Acquire
internships in federal or state government.  Take courses in history,
political science and/or legal studies.  Acquire a Ph.D. for advanced
positions.  Earn a J.D. degree to practice law.

AREAS
BUSINESS/INDUSTRY
Technical and pharmaceutical sales
Management
Consulting
Marketing

EMPLOYERS
Manufacturing companies including:  pharmaceuticals, animal
pharmaceuticals, laboratory equipment, medical supplies and prostheses
Marketing firms
Consulting firms

STRATEGIES
Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 
Demonstrate a high energy level.  Take courses in anatomy,
pharmacology, and chemistry.  Obtain sales experience and/or a business
minor.  Join related student associations and hold leadership
positions.  Consider an MBA or Professional Science Master's for
advanced management and consulting opportunities.

GENERAL INFORMATION
A Bachelor's degree will qualify one for work as a laboratory
assistant, technician, technologist, or research assistant in
education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens.

An undergraduate degree can also be used for nontechnical work in writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation.

Master's degrees allow for more opportunities in research and
administration. Some community colleges will hire Master's level
teachers.

Doctoral degrees are necessary for advanced research and
administrative positions, university teaching, and independent research.

An advanced degree provides the opportunity to specialize in fields of interest.

The biological sciences are good preparation for a career in
healthcare such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science, but
professional degrees and licenses are also necessary to practice in
these fields.

Learn laboratory procedures and become familiar with equipment.

Obtain summer, part-time, volunteer, co-op, or internship experience
to test the fields of interest and gain valuable experience.  Take
independent research classes if possible.

Participate in summer research institutes.  Submit research to local poster competitions or research symposiums.

Develop strong analytical, computer, mathematics, and communications skills.

Join professional associations and community organizations to stay
abreast of current issues in the field and to develop networking
contacts.

Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.

Maintain a high grade point average to improve chances of graduate and professional school admission.

Become familiar with the specific entrance exam for graduate or professional schools in your area of interest.

Secure strong relationships and personal recommendations from professors and/or employers.

Consider completing a post-doctoral experience after graduate school.

Learn federal, state, and local government job application process.
The federal government is the largest employer of biologists.

Gain experience with grant writing and fundraising techniques. Often research must be funded in this manner.

 

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The
University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  (2007) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title
VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer

Contact Career Planning

Carol Cullinan, Director
ccullinan@medaille.edu

Kimberly A. Partyka, Secretary
kap338@medaille.edu

Career Planning
Medaille College
18 Agassiz Circle
Buffalo, New York 14214
(716) 880-2210

 

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