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Highest Paying Jobs for Biology Majors

Microbiologist with microscope

The time to choose a career path has come, and for the aspiring biologist, there exists an incredibly versatile and lucrative market.  In this GetEducated article, we will lend answers to the question, “What is the best biology career for me?”

A bachelor’s degree in biology can provide a clear cut pathway into the scientific field, but are students preparing themselves for work with the environment, animals, humans, bacteria, medicine, or agriculture?  Some professions utilizing biological sciences make the top earnings of any worker in the United States.  These careers may begin with a BS in biology and end with a doctorate in health sciences, dentistry, biochemistry, and more.  Read on to find the best careers in biology for degree-holders today.

Major Skills in Biology

Biology is an interesting and unique scientific field.  The work can encompass examining animals or the human body, experimenting with microorganisms, and calculating vast amounts of dynamic data. Bachelor-level studies will include a wide range of knowledge on the diversity of life, the flow of energy and matter from biological systems, and more.

On a broad level, the biology graduate will best understand how biology plays a role in society,  helping to approach progress in areas such as healthcare, environmental sciences, energy consumption, and agriculture.

The skills developed are just as important as the knowledge. Biology majors possess a clear understanding of designing and interpreting experiments, the basics of statistical analysis, the application of scientific principles to problems, and the communication of research to the masses.

The Highest Paying Jobs with a Biology Degree: The Methodology

To make this list, GetEducated has pulled information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides expansive and consistent information on the job market. This list provides each career field’s median salary, as well as the median salary for the top earners in that career. Readers should note the minimum educational and experience requirements for these positions, for this information can vary. For example, some employers may require a master’s degree for a job as a wildlife biologist, even though this work generally calls for only a bachelor’s degree.

Provided as well is the outlook for industry growth, which the BLS currently projects from 2019 to 2029. The average expected job growth for all occupations in the U.S. is 3.7%. With that in mind, here are the highest-paying jobs one can obtain with a biology degree.

The Top 3 Most Lucrative Entry-Level Biology Degree Jobs:

#1 Microbiologist

Avg. Salary: $75,650
Career Growth: 3%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

With nearly $76,000 a year in annual salary and only a bachelor’s degree and generally limited prior experience required, a microbiologist is a perfect entry-level career path for a biology major. Microbiologists will study the smallest lifeforms, including bacteria, algae, and fungus.  Although much of the work is done in laboratories, microbiologists will also conduct field work, such as sample collection. A bachelor’s degree in biology, with a focus or minor in microbiology, sets up this career. Microbiologists are employed by research institutions, medicine manufacturers, and government agencies, and the top 10% can expect a salary over $133,000.

#2 Environmental Scientist

Avg. Salary: $71,360
Career Growth: 8%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

Environmental scientists conduct research projects and experiments, primarily focused on the environment and the enhancement of human and animal health. It is a fascinating field which only demands a bachelor’s degree. Environmental science has an expected career growth of 8%, an outlook rate faster than the average job market. These scientists earn a sizable income immediately after college, landing in a growing field with plenty of opportunities, including the potential to earn over $124,000 working within the marketplace’s top 10%.

#3 Agricultural & Food Scientist

Avg. Salary: $65,160
Career Growth: 6%
Typical Education Level: Bachelor’s degree

As the world’s population grows, more efficient and environmentally-friendly ways to produce food are needed. Much of this responsibility falls on the shoulders of food scientists, who improve agricultural practices and products through scientific advancements. This career brings an annual salary over $118,800 for the top 10%, making it one of the best entry level biology degree jobs.

Highest Paying Jobs in Biology

Below are the best jobs for biology majors listed by highest paying career to lowest.   These career paths provide excellent, lifelong career potential coupled with impressive salaries.

  1. Physician
    Average salary: $208,000
    Job Growth: 3%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    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 median salary over $208,000, this is easily among the highest-paid jobs reached with a biology degree. Becoming a physician takes years of experience, education, and training. Those who achieve those qualifiers will earn an excellent salary in a field that is expected to grow 4% by 2029.
  2. Dentist
    Average salary: $159,200
    Job Growth: 8%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    This profession remains crucial for overall health. The career is expected to grow by 3% throughout 2029, meaning the marketplace will be very competitive for dental students. While a doctorate in dentistry is required, a bachelor’s degree in biology is a great place to start this educational pathway, and with a higher quality of knowledge, graduates could earn over $208,000 if they reach the top 10% of the dental profession.
  3. Pharmacist
    Average salary: $128,090
    Job Growth: -2%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    Pharmacy is about dispensing specific medications to improve the health and wellbeing of patients. This field requires a doctorate in pharmacology or a related field, and it can start with a bachelor’s degree in biology. With an annual salary over $128,000 and annual earnings over $162,00 for the top 10%, pharmacology is one of the best biology-degree jobs. However, the career growth is -2%, making this a competitive field where patients are becoming more reliant upon mail order and online prescriptions. The profession is expected to add over 311,200 jobs by 2029, most of which will be employed in healthcare settings, which can include facilities in hospitals and clinics.
  4. Podiatrist
    Average salary: $126,240
    Job Growth: 2%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    The health of human feet and ankles can have a profound effect on overall comfort and wellbeing. Thanks to podiatrists, doctorate-level professionals who have fulfilled internship and residency requirements, people can have healthy feet and healthy, active lifestyles. This career can start with an education in biology, and can result in an annual salary of over $126,000 a year while the top 10% may earn over $208,000. The work environment is usually offices and clinics, although some podiatrists work in general-practice facilities, such as hospitals and care centers.
  5. Optometrist
    Average salary: $115,250
    Job Growth: 4%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    Earning over $55 an hour, and over $194,00 annually for the top 10%, optometrists examine the eyes and other parts of anatomy helping humans see clearly. These professionals need a doctorate in the field, requiring the knowledge and skills to diagnose and treat visual issues and often help people manage visual disorders or prescribe glasses. Optometrists can work in stand-alone clinics, or in a doctor’s office. With an expected career growth of 4%, this is one of the many competitive jobs where earning a biology degree can be a key asset.
  6. Physician Assistant
    Average salary: $112,260
    Job Growth: 31%
    Required Education: Master’s Degree
    A physician’s assistant can earn over $112,000 a year, and the top 10% will earn over $157,000, making this one of the highest paying jobs one can achieve with a biology degree. Physician assistants help the medical process by examining, diagnosing, and treating patients. They may practice medicine, assess records, and educate patients. PA careers are expected to grow by a whopping 31% through 2029. A medical education, patient care work experience and certification is required, and a degree in biology creates a strong foundation for this lucrative career and academic pathway.
  7. Veterinarian
    Average salary: $95,460
    Job Growth: 17%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    Veterinarians need to be versatile and well-rounded, so a bachelor’s in biology is the perfect start for this career. This profession requires a doctorate and state licensing, and through the educational pathway to this career, aspiring veterinarians work through classroom, laboratory, and clinical experiences. 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 $160,000, making it one of the best jobs to work toward with a biology degree as an educational foundation.
  8. Biochemist or Biophysicist
    Average salary: $94,490
    Job Growth: 5%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    These professionals hold an interesting and unique career focusing on the chemical and physical foundations that make life possible. This can include cell development, the chemistry of disease, the physiology of metabolism, and more. Biochemistry and biophysics careers require a doctorate, but after that degree is completed one could earn a salary over $94,000 a year. The earnings of those working at the top 10% could top $182,800 annually. Many bachelor’s degrees can lead to this profession, including chemistry, physics, and biology.
  9. Medical Scientist
    Average salary: $88,790
    Job Growth: 17%
    Required Education: Doctorate
    While physicians work directly with patients to improve care, they rely heavily on the work of 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, and these biology degree jobs can bring a salary over $159,000 to the top 10%. Much of medical science requires working in offices and laboratories, studying and reporting on data. This is a wonderful opportunity for medical-related professionals who may not wish to work directly with patients.
  10. Postsecondary Biology Teacher
    Average salary: $79,540
    Job Growth: 12%
    Required Education: Master’s Degree to PhD
    A career as a biology teacher or professor at the collegiate level may be a good choice for those who find passion in teaching. The path to this career can start with a bachelor’s degree in biology, then move into a specialized master’s degree or even a doctorate. Among all postsecondary teachers, the average salary is over $79,000 per year, while the top 10% can earn over $174,900. With the demand for college education expected to rise, the career opportunities for postsecondary teachers is expected to grow 12% through 2029.
  11. Registered Nurse (RN)
    Average salary: $73,300
    Job Growth: 9%
    Required Education: Bachelor’s Degree
    As a fundamental part of the healthcare system, registered nurses help coordinate and provide 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 provides a well-rounded knowledge of the human body, offering effective knowledge applicable to this field. With a top pay over $111,000 for the top 10%, this can turn into an incredibly lucrative career path.
  12. Archeologist
    Average salary: $63,670
    Job Growth: 5%
    Required Education: Master’s Degree
    An archaeologist is dedicated to investigating and preserving the clues left by former cultures and lifeforms, providing unique insight into the Earth’s past as well as perspective on humanity. This work leads one to use a wide range of knowledge, including biology, to interpret findings. The archaeology field requires a master’s degree, and a bachelor’s in biology can provide a great start. The career field is expected to grow by 5% throughout 2029, and the top 10% of the profession might expect an annual salary over $97,000.
  13. Wildlife Biologist
    Average salary: $63,270
    Job Growth: 5%
    Required Education: Bachelor’s Degree
    These professionals study animals and their interaction with ecosystems, providing useful information on animal behavior, human impact, and the characteristics of wildlife. Wildlife biologists work in offices, labs, 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 one could do by earning a degree in biology. It can bring a great salary with only a bachelor’s degree, and the top 10% can expect a pay of over $101,000 per year.
  14. Technical Writer
    Average salary: $74,650
    Job Growth: 12%
    Required Education: Bachelor’s Degree
    The art of communicating complex and technical information clearly is a high-demand industry.  With a biology education and a fundamental understanding of science, a bachelor’s degree can provide the skills needed to analyze information, research topics, and turn biological science into manuals, books, television shows, articles, and films.
  15. Conservation Scientist
    Average salary: $62,410
    Job Growth: 7%
    Required Education: Bachelor’s Degree
    These professionals study and manage overall land quality in 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 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 $98,000 for the top 10%.

Continuing Education for Biology Majors

After completing a biology degree, the aspiring professional has two solid options. First, to go into an entry-level biology-degree job, such as microbiology or wildlife biology. Second, they can continue their education and expand upon knowledge of biology by earning a master’s, a doctorate, or professional certifications.

With a base degree in biology, graduates can move into a master’s degree in a specialized field that suits a specific interest. Consider zoology, for example, with a master’s degree concentrating on animal biology; to pursue interest in the environment, a master’s in environmental biology or a related field could prove a great choice.

How to Utilize the Skills & Experience Outside of Biology

The skills and experience of biology majors may be applicable in several types of occupations.  Whether leaving the field or finding secondary employment while waiting for a biology career to come to fruition, there are plenty of marketplace opportunities available.  Skills which any employer would find useful from biology degree holders include:

  • Problem-solving
  • Project management
  • Collaboration and leadership
  • Research and analysis

Within the field of science, there are more than enough positions where a biology major could be a useful asset to any team.  Consider pursuing a job in mathematics, computer science, data analytics; or, if it’s time for a serious break, a biology major could work in sales, become an artist, write a novel, and much more.

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