Career Profile: Biologist
Biology is a broad field of study that encompasses the study of plants, animals, and people — essentially every living thing in the world. Because biology covers so much information, there are many paths to follow when you want to work as a biologist, with lots of specialties to suit whatever your area of interest might be.
If you want to understand how living things work, how they interact with each other, and with their environment, then a career as a biologist could be for you.
Most biologists specialize in a specific area, such as:
- Microbiology, the study of microorganisms
- Ecology, the study of large-scale organisms’ interactions with each other and their environment
- Zoology, the study of animals
- Evolutionary biology, the study of evolutionary change in organisms
- Botany, the study of plants
- Genetics, the study of plant, animal and human genomes and DNA
- Biochemistry, the study of the chemical processes of living organisms
This is only a sample of possible specializations; basically, if something belongs to a living thing, biology has a specialty for it. There is also a lot of overlap between different specializations in biology, so often biologists will work, study or research across a number of different topics.
Biologists can work in academic settings as professors or researchers, or work for companies and government agencies. They can teach at all levels of education, from high school to colleges or universities, teaching biology and other sciences. Biologists commonly work in labs performing research and creating experiments to test theories. They will also write grant proposals to apply for project funding.
Some biology careers involve travel and field research to study plants and animals in their natural habitat, which can take you all over the world.
The hours a biologist works will vary depending on the type of biology career they are pursuing. Teachers will have regular schedules tied to the school year and class times, which will mostly be during the day. Researchers’ hours will vary depending on whether they are on a project or out on field research, which can involve long hours on location with no set schedule, including working on nights and weekends.
Average salaries start around $40,000 to $45,000, and will also vary depending on your career choice between teaching or researching. Wages for biologists in Canada start around $17 to $25 per hour, and can reach an average of $50 to $65 per hour for experienced workers or highly funded research projects.
Biologists need to study the sciences and math throughout their schooling, starting during high school, and there are biology careers available at every level of education. College graduates in biology can work as teachers, or as technicians or assistants in labs and on field assignments. University graduates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree can work as academic researchers, professors, researchers, consultants and advisors on policy or large projects for companies or the government.
To learn more, check out our video HERE.