Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Can You Do With A Biology Major?

Most students immediately associate biology degrees with medical school. But what if you don’t want to be a doctor? There are still many career options available to you.

For example, if you love both the arts and sciences, you could combine your passions into working with medical illustrations. Or maybe you love animals – you could double major with zoology and become a zookeeper. You could also become a marine biologist or a trainer. There are lots of unique career paths.

Do some research! All it takes is a simple Google search to learn what jobs people with your degree hold. Or, you can come in to our office to talk with a Career Counselor. They’ll be able to tell you more and even help get you connected with companies in your field. You can try a Job Shadow or Day in the Field program, where you have the opportunity to follow someone in the field you’re looking at to see what their daily work experience is really like. Check out our services at lssaa.wisc.edu/careers.

Aquatic Biologists, Inc. is one of many companies that hire biology majors. The work involves treatment with aquatic herbicides and algaecides to control nuisance weeds and algae in ponds, chemical applications on lakes for invasive species, installing aeration systems and fountains to improve water quality, installing aquatic plants for habitat, aesthetics, and nutrient adsorption, and performing fish quantity surveys.

Northeast Wisconsin Territory Manager Paul Leisten explains, “We are usually working out in the field for 4 to 6 days a week and the environment is always new and changing.” It’s a great alternative to a desk job, or to working in a laboratory.

But if laboratories are more in your field of interest, there are opportunities for biology majors.

Many graduates work in a research laboratory at a university or another institution, often while seeking a higher degree. A masters or doctoral degree can enable students to continue research work in a field of choice, or become a professor. The laboratory work while in school is a resume booster and helps students gain experience. Check with your TAs and professors to see if they know of any research work you could get involved in.

Idella Yamben, a scientific recruiter at Kelly Scientific Resources, advises, “Network! You are a whole person with unique capabilities and interests. All types of people are welcome in science and you would be surprised the opportunities that exist for the right skill set. You don't have to just be at the bench or be a teacher! However, making those transitions can be difficult if you are not knowledgeable about companies and skills. Your best way to help you stand out is by networking.”

Yamben also recommends exploring a wide variety of disciplines. “The most competitive applicants have a cross section of skills including biology, chemistry, business, training/teaching, and social/soft skills. If you can diversify your experiences in school (including research and internships) you will likely have more opportunities come your way once you graduate.”

There are many different options open for students with a biology major. You’re not stuck with going to medical school. You can get a job after graduation, without any higher education. Check out your options and find a career path that you love!


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