Top Jobs for Biology Degree Majors

Career Options

Illustration by Melissa Ling. © The Balance, 2018

Medical school isn’t the only option for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in biology – although you may still have to invest in additional education beyond a four-year degree to get started.

A biology degree opens the door to many career possibilities. If you’re a student who loves science and is intrigued by the study of living things, a biology degree might be the perfect choice to launch you on your career path.

Just ask your college career center or alumni office for a list of alumni who were biology majors, and you will be amazed by the variety of options pursued by graduates within that discipline.

Wondering what some of the career options are for a biology major? Read this list of 10 common career choices for biology majors – plus, a description of the skills you’ll gain during your studies. 

Biological Technician

Biological technicians use the laboratory skills and techniques that biology majors learn in their labs, academic research, and collaborative research with faculty. 

Technicians must carry out studies that yield accurate results. They document results and perform calculations just as they have done when compiling reports as a biology major.

Many new graduates who choose not to go on to graduate school or want to postpone graduate study find technician positions with researchers at medical schools, government agencies, non-profit research centers, or pharmaceutical/biotechnology firms.

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Biochemists play a key role in the fast-growing fields of biotechnology and biomedical research.  Studying biology equips them with the laboratory and scientific research skills and knowledge to design and execute studies to develop new products. (Note: most jobs in this field will require an advanced degree.)

Knowledge of anatomy and physiology helps biochemists to understand the impact of drugs and biotechnology solutions on the human body. 

Presentation and writing skills cultivated as a biology major help them to present proposals and findings to colleagues and potential funding sources.

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Genetic Counselor

Genetic counselors assess the genetic makeup of clients and communicate with them about the risk of transmitting a genetic disease or disability to their offspring. They might also work with adults who are concerned about the chances of showing symptoms of genetic disorders later in life.

They must have an advanced aptitude in biology to complete the required master’s degree in the discipline.

Genetic counselors must be able to express scientific concepts in everyday language. Like a biology major, they must be able to think quantitatively to assess the likelihood of various outcomes based on the genetic predisposition of the patients.

Genetic counselors must have advanced knowledge of the scientific method to evaluate the usefulness of a rapidly growing body of research about the human genome.

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Health Communications Specialist

Health communications specialists are responsible for educating communities about health concerns, particularly public health issues, including communicable diseases, health management, and healthy living.

Often employed by hospitals or other healthcare companies, health communications specialists may also coordinate the institution's public relations campaigns, marketing strategies, and community involvement.

This career requires strong writing, and interpersonal skills as health communications specialists are responsible for discussing topics related to human health and disease to a wide audience.

A biology major provides a strong foundation and may offer an edge over other individuals who lack a background in hard science. Unlike many jobs on this list, health communications specialists can get started on their career with just a bachelor’s degree.

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Health Educator

Health educators teach people about certain practices and behaviors that promote wellness. They must have scientific knowledge to digest information and interpret research about public health concerns. They use the scientific method to assess the needs of their constituents so they can design relevant programs.

Health educators need a solid understanding of human biology as well as verbal communication skills to convey scientific information in a language that their clients can easily comprehend. 

Health educators, like biology majors, write about scientific topics like nutrition, safe sex, substance abuse, and stress reduction. They, therefore, need strong written communication skills. Employers may also require the Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES) credential in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

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Pharmaceutical / Medical Product Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical or medical product sales representatives sell medical supplies, IT products, medicines, and more to hospitals, clinics, and other medical practices.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives must have a strong knowledge of chemistry, anatomy, and physiology so that they can explain to doctors how a new drug will affect their patients.

These workers need to have the technological knowledge to explain how a product works. They also need the scientific knowledge to be able to explain how this product will benefit both doctor and patient.

Pharmaceutical or medical product sales representatives need strong communication and interpersonal skills as well. A bachelor’s degree is often enough education to get started in this occupation.

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Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are in high demand as front-line service providers. Biology provides an excellent foundation for graduate work in these similar professions.

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners must have a sound understanding of human biological systems, anatomy, and physiology to diagnose medical problems. They also need a biology major's advanced knowledge of the scientific method to interpret emerging research about various treatment options and medications.

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners must have an aptitude for learning and remembering scientific and medical terminology. These careers require at least a master’s degree.

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Medical and Health Services Manager

Medical and health services managers spend much of their time interacting with health service professionals and must be equipped to communicate with them about scientific policies and procedures.

They must be able to interpret scientific regulations related to medical services, and modify programs accordingly.

Medical and health services managers often hire, supervise, and evaluate health professionals and researchers. They must be able to understand the nuances of their credentials and performance as they assess candidates and employees.

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Biology majors can excel in many areas of the law that draw on scientific knowledge and reasoning. Patent and intellectual property lawyers need to understand the science behind biotechnology products, drugs, and medical instruments to process applications for patents and defend clients against infringement. 

Environmental attorneys support and contest environmental projects and policies based on an understanding of how they will impact the ecosystem.

Medical malpractice lawyers must have the scientific knowledge required to analyze medical interventions and judge whether health professionals have acted ethically and correctly.

Biology majors learn to gather evidence to test a hypothesis. Litigation and criminal lawyers must do the same as they build a case for a client. 

Add to that the technical nature of physical evidence such as DNA samples, and it is easy to see why man biology majors decide to go on to law school.

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Financial Analyst

Financial analysts evaluate stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments for clients and businesses. Biology majors can use their advanced mathematical skills to help assess the success of various investments.

Most analysts focus on specific industries, and biology majors are particularly well suited for working as analysts in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical products, health services, and environmental companies. 

Financial analysts, like biology majors, use computer-based resources to gather and analyze data to draw conclusions. They must have the writing skills to generate reports summarizing their findings. A bachelor’s degree is often enough to get started in a career as a financial analyst.

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Skills and Abilities Gained With a Biology Major

  • Biology majors learn to apply the scientific method, set up experiments, and use scientific equipment. They learn laboratory techniques and procedures along with how to gather, organize, and analyze data.

    Biology majors can carry out complex mathematical and statistical computations. They understand scientific concepts and master scientific terminology. They also learn to present research findings both orally and in writing, using charts and graphs to illustrate results.

    As a result, biology majors sharpen their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Biology majors learn to be precise, systematic, and detail oriented as they carry out their research and laboratory projects. The skills that biology majors acquire can be applied to both scientific and non-scientific jobs after graduation.

Biology Majors Skills List

Here's a list of the skills that employers seek when hiring biology majors. Skills vary by job, so also review these skills lists for a variety of different occupations.

Highlight the skills you acquired during your studies, internships, and jobs held during college in your cover letters, resumes, and job applications.

If you are not sure what career you want, look at this list and highlight the skills you possess. Then look back at the list of biology careers, and see which ones require the skills you have.

A - C

  • Accepting constructive criticism
  • Accuracy
  • Analyzing data
  • Applying dyes and indicators to cells
  • Attention to detail
  • Calculus
  • Collaborating with laboratory and research groups
  • Composing lab reports
  • Comprehending complex scientific reading material
  • Conducting quantitative research
  • Creating charts and graphs to represent findings
  • Critical Thinking

D - N

  • Deductive reasoning
  • Designing methodology to test hypotheses
  • Flexibility
  • Gathering data
  • Incorporating concepts of physics into research
  • Integrating principles of chemistry into research
  • Investigative
  • Knowledge of laboratory techniques
  • Leading group discussions
  • Making approximations
  • Manual dexterity
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Multitasking
  • Note taking

O - S

  • Observational
  • Organizational
  • Performing quantitative measurements
  • PowerPoint
  • Precision
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Preparing slides
  • Presenting scientific research findings to groups
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Receiving and giving constructive feedback
  • Resilience
  • SAS
  • Sequence genomes
  • SPSS
  • Statistical analysis
  • Stress management

T - Z

  • Taxonomy
  • Teamwork
  • Test taking
  • Time management
  • Using electron microscopes
  • Verbal communication
  • Working independently
  • Writing essays
  • Writing scientific research papers