How to Become a Physiologist

How to Become a Physiologist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become a physiologist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for a career as a physiologist:


Those who become physiologists must have the intellectual and emotional fortitude necessary to complete an advanced degree in physiology. They must also have communications skills and be articulate, in order to perform such duties as communicating their findings and drafting research grant proposals. Those who become physiologists must be able to collaborate with others to accomplish research goals. They also have the patience and resolve to complete research properly.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a physiologist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Physiologist

To get an entry-level job in physiology, you typically need a Bachelor of Science degree with a focus in Physiology, Biology, Botany or a closely related field. Completing coursework in biology, botany, kinesiology, physiology, anatomy, mathematics and chemistry is a great way to build an educational foundation for your prospective career as a physiologist.


Depending on the requirements of the employer, a Master’s degree in Biology or Physiology is typically sufficient for many applied research positions. To become a physiologist who works in management, research and university teaching positions a PhD in Physiology is needed. Physiologists must also complete continuing education throughout their careers in order to keep their skills current stay up to date with advancements in the field.




Physiologist Job Description

Physiologists are responsible for studying the cellular function in human beings, plants or animals. Some of the functions that physiologists might study include reproduction, growth, nutrition, and respiration. Physiologists may also study the way organisms react in various environments, including water and space.



Physiologist Job Duties

• Plan, coordinate and conduct laboratory experiments

• Record detailed notes during research process

• Write papers for scientific journals, magazines and other publications

• Prepare grant proposals

• Sit on university research committees and grant panels

• Liaise with other scientists

• Educate medical, paramedical and science students about physiology



Who Hires Physiologists? Where Do They Work?

There are many employers that are able to utilize the specialized knowledge, skills and competencies of physiologists, including:


• Healthcare facilities, such as hospitals and clinics

• Government agencies

• Non-profit agencies

• Colleges and universities

• Medical schools

• Pharmaceutical companies

• Private research institutions



Physiologist Salary: How Much Do Physiologists Earn?

The salary level of physiologists can vary based on factors such as their level of education, their level of experience, where they work, their area of specialty, the responsibilities of their job, and many others.


Physiologist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group earn an average wage of $26.73 to $62.00 per hour. The mean wage for these workers is $39.83 per hour.


Physiologist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, workers in the Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group earn $56,406 per year.


Physiologist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Microbiologists occupational group, which includes Physiologists, is $65,920 per year. The lowest 10 percent of salaries for this occupational group are less than $39,180, and the top 10 percent are more than $115,720 per year.





Traits and Skills of Successful Physiologists

In order to become successful in a career as a physiologist, you need to have a certain set of personality traits, as well as a certain skill set. These skills and traits will ensure that you are able to perform your job in a competent and professional manner.


• Posses the patience and stamina to keep until results or breakthroughs are achieved

• Have a strong interest in science and biology

• Enjoy conducting research and synthesizing information

• Highly organized and able to keep detailed records of work performed

• Comfortable working with teams of scientists, who will likely be composed of individuals with a variety of personality types

• Able to effectively deal with a difference in opinion

• Able to precisely observe and monitor samples and other data

• Able to determine what data will be able to help answer the questions posed prior to, during and after research



Work Environment for Physiologists

The work settings, conditions and duties of physiologists can vary greatly from one job or employer to the next. Below are examples of the primary types of settings for physiologist careers:


Classroom: These physiologists typically conduct lectures, grade papers and advise students. They have working hours that can fluctuate from very few hours a week to a very heavy workload. They may work normal weekday working hours with extra hours put in for preparing lesson plans, grading papers and performing other duties during evenings and weekends. Some physiologists teaching in universities and colleges may teach classes exclusively, or they may be involved in research as well.


Laboratory: Physiologists that work in labs spend the majority of their time conducting, documenting and analyzing research. Working in a laboratory may involve working with hazardous organic materials and inorganic chemicals. These physiologists typically work during normal weekday hours.



Careers Similar to Physiologist

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to Physiologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.




Exercise Physiologist

Medical Scientist

Molecular Biologist



References: How to Become a Physiologist

Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a physiologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Physiologist.” (Nov 3, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Healthcare:Exercise Physiologists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 8, 2020.

Careers:How to Become an Accredited Physiologist.” (n.d.). Exercise & Sports Science Australia website. Retrieved January 8, 2020.



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Scholarships for Becoming a Physiologist

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming a Physiologist can be found on the following pages:


Biology Scholarships

Exercise Science Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming a Physiologist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a physiologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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