How To Become A Biologist

Biology is the science of life and living organisms. Those who specialize in it are called biologists. Biology is a vast discipline where students can specialize in ecology, systematic, morphology, molecular biology, genetics, physiology, evolutionary biology, and ethology. Those who specialize in these disciplines are called, microbiologists, wildlife biologists, evolutionary biologists, ecologists, limnologists, marine biologists, and more.

What Biologists Do
You may ask yourself, "What do biologists do?" Biologists work in laboratories, offices, or outdoors. They are hired by federal and state governments as well as private corporations and educational institutes. Biologists may work long and irregular hours. Biologists may also work in all types of settings and weather. For example, a marine biologist may spend months at sea on a research trip.

A wildlife biologist will perform the following duties during the course of his/her career:

  • Conduct experiments with animals both under natural and controlled environment
  • Collect data and specimens for further studies
  • Study animal behavior, like their interaction with other animals, movement patterns, reproduction, and diseases
  • Study the impact of humans on animal behavior
  • Write scholarly articles for journals
  • Give presentations at seminars

A microbiologist will perform the following duties during the course of his/her career:

  • Perform research to develop new drugs to fight infectious diseases
  • Supervise biological technicians
  • Maintain cultures of microorganisms like bacteria for future study
  • Identify and classify microorganisms
  • Monitor the effect of microorganisms on other living things like animals and plants
  • Present research at seminars
  • Write research papers and make recommendations based on research findings

How to Become a Biologist
Since there are different types of biologists, working at different levels and in various work environments, they require different academic degrees to get hired and work in their chosen fields. For example, a microbiologist interested in an entry-level job will need a bachelor's degree in microbiology or its equivalent. Those microbiologists interested in conducting independent research or teach at college or university will require a Ph.D. in microbiology. Online education is available for students who wish to earn a biology degree, but are unable to attend classes on a campus. Online biology degree programs are also good for students who would like to start a new career, but have responsibilities that do not allow them to enroll in traditional on-campus programs.

Job Skills
The profession, as mentioned earlier, may be challenging, due to the nature of work. Therefore, those who are committed and possess the following qualities should pursue a career in biology:

  • Critical-thinking skills
  • Writing skills
  • Speaking skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Observation skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Perseverance
  • Mathematical skills
  • Analytical skills

Job Outlook
Certain disciplines of biology are growing while others are not. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the number of microbiologists' jobs to grow at a rate of 13 percent between 2010 and 2020. The BLS predicts a negative growth in the job sector for wildlife biologists though. The yearly median salary for biologists differs as well. BLS reports a salary figure of around $65,000 for microbiologists and $57,000 for wildlife biologists. Biologists lead an active and productive life. The profession is not mundane, but it is for those who are committed to the study of life and living organisms.


Q:How long does it take to become a biologist?

A:You must have a 4-year bachelor degree at least to launch a career as a biologist. Biologists fall in all kinds of categories such as marine biology, wildlife biology, and more. All biologists are required to possess at least a bachelor degree in the field. If you opt for a certification or a masters degree as will, you may have to study another 2 years in college.

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