Highest Paying Jobs for Biology Majors

List of high paying jobs for biology majorsHow do the tiniest organisms affect our daily lives? How does the largest animal on the planet get enough food? How does the human body process energy? What are the most important insects for daily living? Is one agricultural crop better for the environment than another?

These questions, and more, can be answered by people with bachelor’s degrees in biology. If you’re fascinated with living things, including humans, animals, and microscopic organisms, then a degree in biology may be right for you.
 

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Summary of Biology Major Skills

Biology is perhaps the most interesting and unique degree field, especially if you like animals or are interested in the functioning of the human body. During your studies, you’ll gain a wide range of knowledge that will help you understand the diversity of life, as well as the flow of energy and matter from biological systems. For example, you’ll understand how the sun’s energy is harnessed by plants, how herbivores change this energy into their own movements, and how predators in turn utilize this energy to stay alive.

You’ll not only observe how different lifeforms are interdependent, you’ll have a basic knowledge for how genetic inheritance moves from one generation to the other. On a broad level, you’ll know how biology can play a role in society, helping to advance numerous areas, including healthcare, the environment, energy consumption, and agriculture.

The skills you gain will be just as important as the knowledge. You’ll have a clear understanding of how to design and interpret experiments that involve scientific research. This skill for scientific research can be applied to many different industries, and the basics of experimentation and statistical analysis can be applied to more than just biology. You’ll know how to apply scientific principles to problems, and you’ll know how to communicate these findings in a relatable manner, which is a skill that can be applied to more than just biology-degree jobs.

And as you’ll see, there are many potential jobs with a biology degree.
 


High Paying Jobs with Biology Degree: The Methodology

To make this list, we relied on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides expansive and consistent information on the job market. We looked at the career field’s median salary, as well as the median salary for the top earned in that career. We also looked at the minimum educational and experience to land these positions, although this can vary. For example, some employers may only require a master’s degree for a wildlife biologist, even though this career generally calls for only a bachelor’s. 

We also looked at expected career growth, which the BLS lists for 2016 to 2026. The average expected job growth in the U.S. is 7%. With that in mind, let’s look at the highest-paying jobs you can get with a biology degree...
 


Most Lucrative Entry Level Biology Degree Jobs

#1   Microbiologist

Avg. Salary: $69,960
Career Growth: 8%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor's degree

With nearly $70,000 a year in annual salary and only a bachelor’s degree and no prior experience required (generally), a microbiologist is a wonderful career path for any biology major. This career allows you to study some of the smallest lifeforms, including bacteria, algae, and fungus, and although much of the work is done in laboratories, you’ll likely have the chance for field work, such as collecting samples. A bachelor’s degree in biology, with a focus or minor in microbiology, sets you up to start this career. Microbiologists are employed by research institutions, medicine manufacturers, and government agencies, and the top 10% can expect a salary over $129,000.

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#2   Environmental Scientist

Avg. Salary: $69,400
Career Growth: 11%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor's degree

Environmental scientists conduct many different research projects and experiments, primarily focusing on how to protect the environment and enhance human and animal health. It’s a fascinating field that doesn’t require previous experience and only demands a bachelor’s degree. It also has an expected career growth of 11%, meaning it will grow faster than the average job market. You’ll not only be able to earn a sizable income immediately after college, you’ll land in a growing field with plenty of opportunities and have the potential to earn over $122,000 if you are in the top 10%.   

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  • Southern New Hampshire University 


 

#3   Agricultural & Food Scientist

Avg. Salary: $62,910
Career Growth: 7%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor's degree

As the world’s population grows, more efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to produce food are needs. Much of this responsibility will fall on the shoulders of food scientists, who improve agricultural practices and products through scientific advancements. This career has no required work experience or on-the-job training, and brings an annual salary over $116,00 for the top 10%, making it one of the best entry level biology degree jobs.

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Highest Paying Jobs in Biology

Now let’s look at the best jobs for biology majors that have excellent, lifelong career potential coupled with impressive salaries.

 Physician   Average salary: $208,000

One of the most respected, appreciated, and well-paid careers in the world, the role of a physician is vital to the overall health of people young and old. Thanks to a salary over $208,000, this is easily among the highest-paid jobs with a biology degree. However, landing this type of position takes years of experience, education, and training. If you make it through, you’ll have an excellent salary in a field that is expected to grow 13% by 2026.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Dentist   Average salary: $158,120

Even the toughest people in the world can fear going to the dentist, but despite the fear, this profession remains crucial for overall health. The career is expected to grow by 19%, meaning there should be plenty of opportunities for dental students. While a doctorate in dentistry is required, a bachelor’s degree in biology is a great place to start your education, and you could earn over $208,000 if you are at the top 10% of the dental profession.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Podiatrist   Average salary: $127,740

The health of your feet and ankles can have a profound effect on your overall comfort and wellbeing. Thanks to podiatrists, which are doctorate-level professionals with internship and residency requirements, people can have healthy feet and, hopefully, a healthy, active lifestyle. This career can start with an education in biology, and can result in an annual salary of over $127,000 a year while the top 10%  earn over $208,000. The work environment is usually offices and clinics, although some work in general-practice facilities, such as hospitals and care centers.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Pharmacist   Average salary: $124,170

Pharmacy is all about dispensing specific medications to improve the health and wellbeing of patients. This field requires a doctorate in pharmacology or a related field, but it can start with a bachelor’s degree in biology. With an annual salary over $124,000 and annual earnings over $159,00 for the top 10%, it’s one of the best biology-degree jobs. Although the career growth is 6% (right around the national average), the profession is expected to add over 17,000 jobs by 2026, most of which will be employed in pharmacies, which can include facilities in drug stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies in health centers. 

Required Education: Doctorate

 Optometrist   Average salary: $110,300

Earning over $110,000 a year, and over $190,00 for the top 10%, optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of our anatomy that help us see clearly. These professionals, who need a doctorate in the field, diagnose and treat visual issues and often help people manage visual disorders or prescribe glasses. In this profession, you could work in a stand-alone clinic, although employment in a doctor’s office is possible. With an expected career growth of 18%, this is one of the many growing jobs with a biology degree.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Physician Assistant   Average salary: $104,860

Despite only needing a master’s degree, a physician’s assistant can earn over $104,860 a year, and the top 10% will earn over $146,000, making this one of the high-paying jobs with biology degree. Physician assistants help the medical process by examining, diagnosing, and treating patients. They may prescribe medicine, assess records, and educate patients, and the career is expected to grow by a whopping 37%. While a medical education is required, a degree in biology creates a wonderful foundation for the schooling and the career.

Required EducationMaster's Degree

 Biochemist or Biophysicist   Average salary: $91,190

These professionals hold an interesting and unique career that focuses on the chemical and physical foundations that make life possible. This can include cell development, the chemistry of disease, or the physiology of metabolism. The career will require a doctorate, but after it’s completed you could earn a salary over $91,000 year, and if you work you way to the top 10%, your earnings could top $177,000 annually. Many bachelor’s degrees can lead to this profession, including chemistry, physics, and (of course) biology.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Veterinarian   Average salary: $90,420

Do you love animals? Do you want to learn about new and exciting techniques to treat patients of all kinds? Then perhaps a career as a veterinarian would be perfect for you. Veterinarians need to be versatile and well-rounded, so a bachelor’s in biology is the perfect start for this career. Although a doctorate is required, there are no requirements for work experience or on-the-job training. It is expected to grow rapidly, driven largely by increases in pet-related spending. The top 10% of this career can expect a salary over $159,000, making it one of the best jobs you can get with a biology degree as your educational foundation.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Medical Scientist   Average salary: $82,090

Although physicians work directly with patients to improve care, they often rely on the work if medical scientists to improve their techniques and practices. Medical scientists use experiments and research to create new approaches to treatments and disease prevention. A doctorate is required, but these biology degree jobs can bring a salary over $160,000 for the top 10%. Working in offices and laboratories, much of a medical scientist’s job will involve studying data and reports. With no on-the-job training or experience requirements, this is a wonderful opportunity for medical-related professionals who may not wish to work directly with patients.

Required Education: Doctorate

 Biology Teacher   Average salary: $76,000

Maybe you love biology and have a passion for teaching. In that case, a career as a biology teacher or professor at the collegiate level may be a good choice for you. You can start the path to this career with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and then move into a specialized master’s degree or even a doctorate. Among all postsecondary teachers, the average salary is over $76,000 per year, while the top 10% earn over $170,000. With the demand for college education expected to rise, the career opportunities for postsecondary teachers is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026. 

Required Education: Master's Degree

 Registered Nurse (RN)   Average salary: $70,000

As a fundamental part of the healthcare system, registered nurses help coordinate patient care and assist in the education of patients. As one of the professionals in direct contact with patients, they can also provide advice and emotional support. This career requires specific education and certification in nursing, but a bachelor’s degree in biology gives you a well-rounded knowledge of the human body, making you an even more effective RN. With a top pay over $104,000 for the top 10%, it’s also a lucrative career path.

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

 Wildlife Biologist   Average salary: $62,290

These professionals study animals and their interaction with ecosystems, providing useful information on animal behavior, human impact, and the characteristics of wildlife. In this job, you could work in an office, a lab, in the field, or all three in a single day. Fieldwork can include travel to unique destinations, making it one of the most interesting and exciting jobs with a biology degree. It will bring a great salary with only a bachelor’s degree and no required experience, and the top 10% can expect a pay over $99,000 a year. 

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

 Archeologist   Average salary: $62,280

An archaeologist is dedicated to investigating and preserving the clues of former cultures and lifeforms, which provide a unique insight into our past, as well as perspective on our own times. They may investigate prehistoric sites, and use a wide range of knowledge, including biology, to interpret findings. These professionals need a master’s degree, but a bachelor’s in biology gives them a great start. Although the career field is only expected to grow by 4%, the top 10% in the profession can expect an annual salary over $99,000.

Required Education: Master's Degree

 Writer   Average salary: $61,820

Without a biology education and a fundamental understanding of science, author Micheal Crichton (bachelor’s in biological anthropology) may have never written the now world-famous novel Jurassic Park or created the hit show ER. While being a fiction author may not seem like the role of a biology student, if you want to write, and have a passion for both science and story-telling, perhaps you could, like Crichton, become a science author and writer. This degree will give you the skills needed to analyze information, research topics, and turn biological science into books, television shows, news articles, and (just maybe) blockbuster movies.

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

 Conservation Scientist   Average salary: $60,970

These professionals study and manage overall land quality in many different areas, including forests, parks, and rangelands. They may also be responsible for overseeing natural resources. A bachelor’s degree in forestry is often the path for this career, but specializing or minoring in general biology could also lead to this profession. Most people in this career get to spend time outside, although time is often split between field work and office and lab study. With only a bachelor’s degree, this career can bring an average salary over $97,000 for the top 10%.

Required Education: Bachelor's Degree

 


Working Outside of Biology? How to Sell Your Skills & Experience

Perhaps you have a degree in biology, but aren’t sure if working in a science- or biology-related field is the right choice for you. In this case, you may need to sell your skills and experiences to employers who have little concern for the interplay of animal species or the interworking of the human body. Fortunately, you can still sell your useful skills to many employers. 

During interviews, it’s important to focus on many of the specific projects you worked on, citing examples of problem-solving, leadership, group work, or any other skills that could apply to the career. Discuss your understanding of research, data analysis, and other skills that made you a successful biology student and you’ll be more attractive to more clients. 
 


Continuing Education for Biology Majors

After you complete a biology degree, you really have two options. First, you can go into one of the entry-level biology-degree jobs, such as microbiology or wildlife biologist. Or you can continue your education and expand your knowledge of biology by earning a master’s and, eventually, your doctorate.

With a base degree in biology, you can move into a master’s degree in a specialized field that suits your specific interest. If you are interested in zoology, for example, you could seek a master’s degree that focuses on animal biology; if you are interested in the environment, a master’s in environmental biology or a related field may be a great choice.
 


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