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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 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Mobile 100 $71,100
     
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 140 $79,540
Fairbanks 60 $71,340
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 170 $74,860
Mesa 170 $74,860
Phoenix 170 $74,860
Tucson 100 N/A
Flagstaff 90 $66,190
     
Metro Area (Arkansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Conway 30 $77,010
North Little Rock 30 $77,010
Little Rock 30 $77,010
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 1610 $79,080
Long Beach 1610 $79,080
Los Angeles 1610 $79,080
San Diego 870 $77,560
Carlsbad 870 $77,560
Sacramento 450 $76,140
Arcade 450 $76,140
Roseville 450 $76,140
Arden 450 $76,140
Santa Clara 200 $89,920
San Jose 200 $89,920
Sunnyvale 200 $89,920
Riverside 150 $54,770
Ontario 150 $54,770
San Bernardino 150 $54,770
Thousand Oaks 90 $84,560
Ventura 90 $84,560
Oxnard 90 $84,560
Fresno 80 $57,540
Fairfield 80 $89,920
Vallejo 80 $89,920
Bakersfield 70 $74,950
Redding 60 $63,660
Santa Rosa 50 $45,250
Santa Maria 50 $66,120
Santa Barbara 50 $66,120
Watsonville 50 $76,450
Santa Cruz 50 $76,450
El Centro 50 $80,480
Salinas N/A $82,850
Oakland N/A $91,520
San Francisco N/A $91,520
Hayward N/A $91,520
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boulder 220 $58,650
Lakewood 210 $76,090
Aurora 210 $76,090
Denver 210 $76,090
Fort Collins 140 $72,190
Colorado Springs 60 $39,820
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
East Hartford 30 $80,600
West Hartford 30 $80,600
Hartford 30 $80,600
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 570 N/A
Fort Lauderdale 570 N/A
Miami 570 N/A
Gainesville 170 $47,790
Kissimmee 170 $70,690
Sanford 170 $70,690
Orlando 170 $70,690
Tampa 150 N/A
Clearwater 150 N/A
St. Petersburg 150 N/A
Titusville 90 $73,120
Palm Bay 90 $73,120
Melbourne 90 $73,120
Jacksonville 80 $78,130
Tallahassee 70 $46,440
Port St. Lucie 40 $62,220
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 530 $74,340
Sandy Springs 530 $74,340
Atlanta 530 $74,340
Clarke County 170 $61,450
Athens 170 $61,450
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Boise City 90 $75,740
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Indianapolis 230 $79,100
Anderson 230 $79,100
Carmel 230 $79,100
West Lafayette 30 $71,140
Lafayette 30 $71,140
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Ames 60 $71,110
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 60 $57,340
Lexington 60 $57,340
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baton Rouge 180 $64,270
Metairie 160 $67,140
New Orleans 160 $67,140
Alexandria 70 $62,700
Lafayette 30 $72,170
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 530 $88,400
Columbia 530 $88,400
Baltimore 530 $88,400
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lansing 40 $67,160
East Lansing 40 $67,160
Ann Arbor 40 $102,760
Warren N/A $84,980
Detroit N/A $84,980
Dearborn N/A $84,980
     
Metro Area (Mississippi) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pascagoula 40 $76,010
Biloxi 40 $76,010
Gulfport 40 $76,010
     
Metro Area (Missouri) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Springfield 70 $32,370
Columbia 60 $59,250
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Missoula 70 $69,120
Billings 30 $73,370
     
Metro Area (Nebraska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lincoln 40 N/A
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 80 $71,220
Henderson 80 $71,220
Las Vegas 80 $71,220
Reno 50 $71,110
     
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton N/A $90,980
     
Metro Area (New Mexico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albuquerque 140 $73,390
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Rochester 30 $73,060
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Chapel Hill 460 $77,410
Durham 460 $77,410
Raleigh 170 $61,110
Asheville 30 $72,070
     
Metro Area (North Dakota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bismarck 60 $67,840
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 170 $81,860
Elyria 150 $64,330
Cleveland 150 $64,330
Dayton 70 $95,800
Akron 50 $58,860
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City 40 $67,160
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bend 40 $67,150
Redmond 40 $67,150
Salem 40 $68,570
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh N/A $71,770
     
Metro Area (South Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
North Charleston 90 $78,870
Charleston 90 $78,870
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Franklin 80 $67,160
Nashville 80 $67,160
Murfreesboro 80 $67,160
Davidson 80 $67,160
Knoxville 50 $60,740
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Houston 440 $84,170
The Woodlands 440 $84,170
Sugar Land 440 $84,170
Fort Worth 260 $75,150
Arlington 260 $75,150
Dallas 260 $75,150
College Station 120 $58,830
Bryan 120 $58,830
San Antonio 70 $73,380
New Braunfels 70 $73,380
El Paso 60 $80,480
Round Rock N/A $67,040
Austin N/A $67,040
     
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City 60 $69,120
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Richmond 40 $78,310
Charlottesville 30 $77,440
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 670 $75,930
Bellevue 670 $75,930
Tacoma 670 $75,930
Spokane Valley 50 $71,020
Spokane 50 $71,020
     
Metro Area (West Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Morgantown 60 $73,050
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Madison 270 $69,450
West Allis 50 $65,840
Milwaukee 50 $65,840
Waukesha 50 $65,840

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.

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

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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