Completing a Bachelor of Science degree (BSc) in Biology helps prepare you for a wide variety of biology-related careers, such as those found in the environmental and biological sciences, the biotechnology sector, or in a medical profession.
Some careers you will be able to jump right into. These are typically positions with lower levels of responsibility, often referred to as “entry-level” jobs. Jobs with a higher degree of responsibility will often require further education, training and/or experience to qualify for. This typically includes many teaching, research and consulting positions.
Fortunately, if you are interested in a career that requires further education, an undergraduate biology degree also serves as a great foundation for advanced study in Biology and other graduate and professional programs, such as Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine and Law.
This Biology careers guide contains detailed occupational information on career paths relevant to this degree. Included are job descriptions, expected salaries, educational requirements and other pertinent information related to these careers. We’ve also included Biology-specific scholarships to help you pay for school!
There are many different forms of Biology careers. Here is a list of careers for which a Biology background is a requirement or at least quite useful:
• Agricultural science
• Chiropractic Medicine
• Environmental Consulting
• Forensic Science
Biology is a scientific field wherein living things and their vital processes are studied. There are many different types of living things, and many different biological processes among them, thus there are many different areas of specialty within Biology. However, there are also commonalities in biology and biological processes shared by all living things.
Because of this diversity of life forms, as well as the commonalities shared among them, the study of biology at the undergraduate university level is taught one of two ways, depending on the school offering the program.
The first teaching approach involves focusing on the commonalities shared among all life forms. The second approach involves separating the study of plants (botany) from that of animals (zoology), and the study of structure of organisms (morphology) from that of function (physiology).
Typically, undergraduate Biology programs involve teaching you the fundamentals of various biological concepts and practical research techniques during the first two years.
Upper level courses during the last few years of university tend to build on these concepts and techniques, allowing you to explore more advanced concepts and techniques. During this time, you may also choose an area of specialization within the field of Biology, depending on where their interests lie.
Many undergraduate Biology degree programs involve intensive lab experience, where you’re are taught hands-on skills such as the appropriate use of equipment, and various techniques for investigating living organisms and how they function.
Major projects may also be a requirement for you in your senior year. These projects may or may not involve the supervision of a Biology department faculty member. These projects allow you to directly apply the knowledge and skill set you’ve gained through coursework and lab work.
There are many employers, representing many different sectors of industry that are interested in the skills and knowledge of Biology majors. Below is an example of the types of employers that will be interested in the skill set you have as a Biology graduate.
• Chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies
• Companies in the agriculture, food, natural resource and utility industries
• Environmental and engineering consulting firms
• Federal, provincial/state and local government departments and agencies
• Healthcare and education institutions, such as hospitals and universities
• Medical and veterinary research organizations
Whether you're a student looking for a job to help you pay for school, or a graduate looking for an entry or mid-level job, our job board has opportunities directly and indirectly related to your degree.
The salary you could earn as a Biology graduate first entering the workforce can vary drastically, and is heavily dependent on the following factors (not an inclusive list):
• Your level of education (such as if you went on to graduate studies)
• The industry in which you find work
• The type of job you have, and your level of responsibility
• The size and type of your employer
• The region in which you work
• Other work experience you may have accrued
• Other skills you may have
Biology Graduate Salary Ontario: According to a study in 2011 conducted by the Ontario Council of Universities, $42,181 CAD* is the average salary earned by Agricultural and Biological Sciences graduates, 2 years after graduating from Ontario universities in 2010.
*This figure is a composite of all graduates who earned a Bachelor’s degree in the Agricultural and Biological Sciences, not specifically for Biology graduates. Unfortunately, similar statistics for other Canadian provinces and the United States cannot be found from reputable sources.
The knowledge and skills you can gain by studying biology at the university level serve as an excellent foundation for the following careers (not an inclusive list):
Please Note: Some of the above listed careers require additional education, training and/or experience. Click on careers that are of interest to you to find out more about the qualifications you’ll need.
There are many different areas of specialty within Biology due to the vast amount of living things on the planet, and the many different biological processes that exist among them. These areas of specialty include:
• Bioinformatics and Biostatistics
• Cell and Molecular Biology
• Marine Biology
• Nutrition and Food Science
Getting an internship (also known as a practicum, field placement or co-op work opportunity) in a career field related to your Biology degree is the best way to gain work experience you’re still in school.
An internship allows you to develop professional competencies while earning school credit. But you’re not the only one who wins. In return, employers get valuable temporary team members.
These sorts of opportunities can also result in being hired by the sponsoring employer once you’ve graduated. If you’ve done quality work and made a good impression, chances are that organization will want to retain you on a full-time basis once you’ve graduated.
You may have the opportunity arranged for you by your school, if it is an academic requirement to participate in an internship. If it's not a requirement, and your school doesn't outright arrange it for you, an internship coordinator at the school will likely at least point you in the right direction as far as finding one.
If it is not a requirement to work an internship, you should still try to find an internship, because of their many benefits. Speak with your professors, other Biology department staff as well as your school’s guidance and career counselors to help you find a suitable opportunity.
Please Note: If you’re seeking an internship from an outside source, be cautious. Many internship opportunities operate in the grey area of employment law, and are designed to use students as free labour in order to perform mundane tasks.
If you’re a Biology major looking for help in paying for school, then you’re in luck! Our scholarships database has Canadian and American scholarships that are specific to Biology, scholarships for science students in general, and scholarships that are open to any field of study.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any and all scholarships for which you qualify, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships in Canada and the United States that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants.
To find out more about careers directly related to your Biology degree, consult the following professional association websites. They offer career-related information, and many have opportunities for student membership, as well as job placement and mentoring opportunities.