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Biologists

Biologists, also known a biological scientists, study the origin, development, composition and function of plant and animal life. They typically specialize in one area and are named by that specialty. The majority of biologists perform research as part of their jobs. Many biological scientists, especially those employed in academic environments, depend on grant money to support their research.

They perform research to acquire knowledge of the fundamental life processes and apply their knowledge to developing new products and processes. Their research is often used to develop solutions for human health problems and to improve the natural environment.

Those that work in applied research or product development apply their knowledge from research and develop medical diagnostic tests, new drugs and biofuels. They also develop techniques for increasing crop yields. Most biological scientists utilize a microscope in order to see and study organisms that are not visible to the naked eye. Some of these scientists work with animals in laboratories.

The advances in knowledge regarding organic molecules and genetics has increased growth in the field of biotechnology which has changed the industries in which biologists work. They now have the ability to manipulate the genetic material of plants and animals. They attempt to make organisms resistant to disease or more productive.

Some of the specialties are:

Botanists study plants and how they interact with their environment.

Microbiologists study small organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae. They study how these organisms contribute and affect the food and agriculture industry. Microbiologists also investigate how these organisms can cause diseases.

Physiologists focus on the life functions of animals and plants. They often specialize in one specific area such as photosynthesis, reproduction, movement or respiration.

Aquatic biologists focus on the ways plants, animals and microorganisms live and evolve in water environments. Marine biologists focus on salt water organisms and limnologists focus on fresh water organisms.

Biochemists combine biology and chemistry and study the chemistry of living things.

Biophysicists focus on the atomic structure and the mechanical and electrical energy of organisms and cells.

Zoologists study the animal kingdom. They often specialize in an area such as mammalogy (mammals), ornithology (birds), ichthyology (fish) or herpetology (reptiles and amphibians).

Ecologists study the relationships among organisms and between organisms and their environments. They evaluate the effects of pollutants, population size, temperature, altitude and rainfall.

Responsibilities

  • Plan and administer biological research programs
  • Study plants and animals and the environmental conditions that affect them
  • Use computers to store and analyze data
  • Provide test results to federal and state representatives and the general public
  • Research environmental effects of present and potential uses of water and land areas
  • Develop environmental impact reports for government, industry or for publication
  • Represent employer at conferences
  • Determine methods for improving environmental conditions

Job Characteristics

Most biological scientists spend most of their time in laboratories performing research and in offices writing about research results and staying current with the newest research discoveries. Some biologists perform field studies that may involve strenuous physical activity and primitive living conditions for long periods of time.

Biologists usually work 40 hours a week, however some of these scientists work more hours. Some researchers may work odd hours in laboratories or other settings due to the type of research they are involved in.

Biologists should be able to communicate clearly and concisely in writing and orally. They also need to have patients to perform long and detailed research projects.

Employment Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted a 21 percent employment growth from 2008 to 2018 for biological scientists which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Biological research and development continues to increase the demand for biologists. Job growth will also occur due to the efforts to discover new and improved strategies and techniques to clean up and preserve the environment.

In 2008 the median annual earnings for biological scientists was $65,080. The earnings of biological scientists vary by the specialty.

In 2008 approximately 40 percent of biologists were employed by federal, state and local government agencies. Federal biologists worked mostly for the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Institutes of Health and Defense.

Education, Certification, and Licensing

A Ph.D. in biology or one of its subfields is typically needed for work in independent research or development positions. A Ph.D is also usually required for administrative jobs. Some jobs in product development, applied research, inspection or management as well as research technician jobs require a master's degree or a bachelor's degree in the field. Some individuals that have a degree in biology are employed as high school science teachers.

Advanced degree programs usually focus on a subfield such as botany or microbiology. Advanced degree programs usually include classroom learning, laboratory research, fieldwork and a thesis or a dissertation.

Resources

Major Employers

The major employers are chemical companies, drug companies, food processing companies, government agencies, colleges and universities, research and testing laboratories and publishing firms.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:
Biological Scientists

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Biological Scientists jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mobile 100 $71,950
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 140 $78,890
Fairbanks 70 $72,500
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 180 $71,790
Mesa 180 $71,790
Phoenix 180 $71,790
Flagstaff 90 $60,530
Tucson N/A $62,570
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 30 $74,870
North Little Rock 30 $74,870
Little Rock 30 $74,870
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
San Francisco 2130 $91,400
Oakland 2130 $91,400
Hayward 2130 $91,400
Anaheim 1900 $79,410
Long Beach 1900 $79,410
Los Angeles 1900 $79,410
Roseville 1020 $80,150
Sacramento 1020 $80,150
Arcade 1020 $80,150
Arden 1020 $80,150
Carlsbad 780 $73,030
San Diego 780 $73,030
San Jose 100 $82,650
Santa Clara 100 $82,650
Sunnyvale 100 $82,650
Riverside 90 $71,750
San Bernardino 90 $71,750
Ontario 90 $71,750
Fresno 80 $53,230
Oxnard 80 $82,640
Thousand Oaks 80 $82,640
Ventura 80 $82,640
Bakersfield 50 $77,970
Vallejo 40 $68,810
Fairfield 40 $68,810
Visalia 30 $61,310
Porterville 30 $61,310
Redding 30 $70,270
Santa Maria N/A $76,100
Santa Barbara N/A $76,100
Santa Cruz N/A $95,070
Watsonville N/A $95,070
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 150 $75,520
Aurora 150 $75,520
Denver 150 $75,520
Fort Collins 140 $73,320
Boulder 50 $73,630
Colorado Springs N/A $66,890
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 600 N/A
Fort Lauderdale 600 N/A
Miami 600 N/A
Tampa 160 $72,220
St. Petersburg 160 $72,220
Clearwater 160 $72,220
Gainesville 150 $47,130
Sanford 150 $70,350
Orlando 150 $70,350
Kissimmee 150 $70,350
Titusville 90 $72,220
Palm Bay 90 $72,220
Melbourne 90 $72,220
Jacksonville 90 $77,230
Tallahassee 60 $47,550
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 440 $75,790
Sandy Springs 440 $75,790
Atlanta 440 $75,790
Clarke County 170 $61,300
Athens 170 $61,300
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 90 $74,180
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 270 $60,540
Carmel 270 $60,540
Indianapolis 270 $60,540
Bloomington 70 $69,420
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 60 $56,970
Lexington 60 $56,970
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 110 $74,180
New Orleans 110 $74,180
Baton Rouge 80 $71,780
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 550 $86,040
Columbia 550 $86,040
Baltimore 550 $86,040
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Lansing 40 $67,790
Lansing 40 $67,790
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 40 $74,870
Biloxi 40 $74,870
Gulfport 40 $74,870
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 60 $34,070
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Missoula 70 $60,520
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 40 $77,650
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 70 $70,280
Henderson 70 $70,280
Las Vegas 70 $70,280
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton N/A $88,460
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 160 $70,270
Las Cruces 50 $62,480
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 40 $72,230
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Chapel Hill 480 $74,360
Durham 480 $74,360
Raleigh 200 $65,160
Asheville 30 $72,370
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 60 $66,830
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Cleveland 150 $61,940
Elyria 150 $61,940
Dayton 40 $98,650
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 140 $55,660
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 80 $71,540
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 240 $58,550
Carolina 240 $58,550
San Juan 240 $58,550
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
North Charleston 80 $77,220
Charleston 80 $77,220
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 110 $66,870
Murfreesboro 110 $66,870
Davidson 110 $66,870
Nashville 110 $66,870
Knoxville 80 $56,060
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dallas 200 $78,840
Fort Worth 200 $78,840
Arlington 200 $78,840
Round Rock 170 $50,610
Austin 170 $50,610
Bryan 110 $57,350
College Station 110 $57,350
El Paso 80 $74,180
San Antonio 50 $68,830
New Braunfels 50 $68,830
Corpus Christi 30 $79,540
The Woodlands N/A $59,990
Sugar Land N/A $59,990
Houston N/A $59,990
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 60 $72,530
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 40 $76,380
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 610 $76,100
Seattle 610 $76,100
Tacoma 610 $76,100
Olympia 70 $72,890
Tumwater 70 $72,890
Spokane Valley 50 $70,180
Spokane 50 $70,180
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Morgantown 60 $70,190
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Madison 280 $70,190
West Allis 60 $65,850
Milwaukee 60 $65,850
Waukesha 60 $65,850

Career Stories (Job Profiles) for Biological Scientists

To find out more about building a career as Biological Scientists, we spoke with professionals in the field across a variety of specialties. Learn about their experiences on the job, the steps they took to complete their education, and what it takes to excel in this industry. Click the link to see a story.

All Types

Most Popular Industries for :
Biological Scientists

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Government 17,620 64% $67,340
Professional And Technical Services 4,120 14% $68,420
Education 3,330 12% $51,300
Chemicals 850 3% $66,940
Hospital 750 2% $43,160
Medical Office 440 1% $63,900
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