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Biologist Jobs - Tips in Choosing Specialization in Biologist Jobs

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Biologist jobs involve the study of living organisms and how they relate to their environment. They do research to better understand the fundamental life processes and use this understanding to develop new and better products and processes.

This research is broken down into two categories: 1) basic research – conducted with no particular goal other than expand knowledge of living things to develop solutions to health problems in humans and improve the environment. Biologists working on basic research are mostly employed by the government, institutions of learning, or private laboratories. Often they submit proposals to obtain financing for their projects and 2) applied research – conducted to solve a particular problem. Biologists here apply the knowledge gained from basic research to create new medicines and diagnostic tests, increase the yield of crops or develop biofuels. Applied researchers usually work in teams of people from different fields like engineering and business managers. Entering the 21st century advances in the study of genetics and organic molecules resulted in the rapid growth in the field of biotechnology. Biotechnologists are now capable of manipulating the genes of plants and animals with the goal of increasing productivity or resistance to disease.

There are several areas of specialization in biologist careers although these traditional classifications have been blurred in recent developments. The different types of biologist jobs include:

1. Aquatic Biologists – study water living animals, plants and microorganisms;
2. Marine Biologists – study organisms living in salt water;
3. Limnologists – study organisms living in fresh water;
4. Biochemists – study chemical compositions of living organisms;
5. Biophysicists – study how physics relates to living organisms;
6. Microbiologists – study microscopic organisms such as bacteria, fungi and algae;
7. Physiologists – study the life functions of living things under normal and abnormal conditions, from the cellular level to the whole organism;
8. Botanists – focus on the study of plant life;
9. Zoologists – focus in studying animals and their relationship to their environment;
10. Ecologists – investigates the relationship of organisms to their environment and to other organisms;

Biologists conduct most of their research in laboratories but there are experiments that can only be done outside of the labs such with zoologists, botanists, and marine biologists who often have to study their subjects in their natural environments. Some experiments involve toxic substances or dangerous organisms wherein strict safety procedures need to be followed to avoid contamination. Most research being done depend on grant money from the government, academic institutions or private companies or individuals and biologists are often under pressure to conclude their research in a given time period. Biologists usually work regular hours but some are required to work overtime especially when nearing project deadlines and there are the kinds of work that have to be done in odd hours.

Biologist jobs require at least a Bachelor’s degree. A Ph.D. is usually needed for research and development positions. Holders of Bachelors and Masters Degrees in biology are also qualified for applied research, management, or product development positions. They may also work as research technicians or as teachers from high school to college level. Biology science majors take up not only the required biology and chemistry courses but also subjects in computer science, engineering, math, and physics. Biology majors interested in studying the environment also need to take up environmental courses to be familiar with the regulations and environmental laws. Master’s degrees will generally take 2 more years of additional schooling and Doctorate degrees will take up an additional 5 to 6 years although these can be done while you are already employed.

Outlook for biologist employments is favorable and is increasing much faster than average for all occupations at 21 percent for the period 2008 to 2018. Most of this growth can be attributed to the advances in biotechnology and chances for employment are high especially in this field. The median annual wage for the various branches of biological scientists varies widely. For biochemists and biophysicists it is $82,840 as of 2008; for microbiologists $64,350; and for zoologists $55,290. Take note also that biologist’s employed by government agencies generally have higher salaries than those employed by private companies.

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