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Biologists
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Description: what do they do?
Research or study basic principles of plant and animal life, such as origin, relationship, development, anatomy, and functions.
Also known as:
Research Scientist, Scientist, Biologist, Botanist, Horticulturist, Marine Biologist, Research Biologist, Biological Scientist, Aquatic Scientist, Aquatic Biologist

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
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    Transcript: From the smallest microorganism to the giant blue whale, every living thing is of interest to biologists, who study the basic principles of plant and animal life. Biologists use the scientific method, testing their ideas or hypotheses through experimentation, to investigate questions about the origin of life, its development, and the relationships between living things, as well as a creature’s anatomy and how it functions in its environment. Whether they’re working in a lab, out in the field, or at a university, biologists collect and analyze biological data, although the specifics of their research are as varied as the creatures in nature. For example, some biologists may work almost exclusively with computer models, while others may spend months collecting and studying specimens at sea. Many specialize in working with plants, animals, or the environment. Biologists need strong communication skills. Their work is often as much about interacting with people and institutions as it is focusing on DNA or anatomy. A career in biology generally requires a bachelor’s degree in the field. Many biologists attend graduate school to earn more advanced research positions or professorships.
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Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET’s Bright Outlook occupations. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
Wyoming
160
2016 Employment
160
2026 Employment
3%
Percent change
10
Annual projected job openings
United States
47,100
2018 Employment
49,800
2028 Employment
6%
Percent change
4,700
Annual projected job openings
You’re seeing projected employment information for Biological scientists, all other because we don’t have information for Biologists.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Biochemists and Biophysicists* in Wyoming
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
* You’re seeing wages for Biochemists and Biophysicists because we don’t have information for Biologists.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationWyomingUnited States
10%$52,280$49,230
25%$62,420$64,230
Median$71,410$93,280
75%$79,590$129,950
90%$88,060$177,680


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    Also note that in this update, 21 detailed occupations found within the 2010 Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) were replaced with 10 new aggregations of those occupations; read more about these OES changes.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, 2018 data. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Bachelor's degree
  • No work experience
  • No on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:
You’re seeing education information for Zoologists and wildlife biologists because we don’t have information for Biologists. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained
You’re seeing education information for Zoologists and wildlife biologists because we don’t have information for Biologists. Please note the information may not be the same for both occupations.

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find apprenticeship sponsors" you'll find information that can help you locate apprenticeship opportunities in your state:

    • If there are businesses that have sponsored apprenticeships in this field in the past, you'll find their name and contact information.
    • If there are related occupations that might have apprenticeship opportunities, you'll find links to that information.
    • You'll also see contact information for state and federal agencies that oversee apprenticeship programs.

    What is the source of this information?

    Apprenticeship information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeships, and from CareerOneStop. Learn more at Apprenticeship Finder Help.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Prepare research or technical reports on environmental issues.
  • Communicate results of environmental research.
  • Develop collaborative relationships between departments or with external organizations.
  • Collect environmental data or samples.
  • Conduct research of processes in natural or industrial ecosystems.
  • Plan biological research.
  • Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
  • Write grant proposals.
  • Classify organisms based on their characteristics or behavior.
  • Examine characteristics or behavior of living organisms.
  • Provide technical information or assistance to public.
  • Communicate with government agencies.
  • Research environmental impact of industrial or development activities.
  • Prepare proposal documents or grant applications.
  • Analyze chemical compounds or substances.
  • Develop plans to manage natural or renewable resources.
  • Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
  • Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
  • Review plans or proposals for environmental conservation.
  • Research diseases or parasites.
  • Develop biological research methods.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Law and Government - Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Mathematics - Using math to solve problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • Prepare technical and research reports, such as environmental impact reports, and communicate the results to individuals in industry, government, or the general public.
  • Develop and maintain liaisons and effective working relations with groups and individuals, agencies, and the public to encourage cooperative management strategies or to develop information and interpret findings.
  • Collect and analyze biological data about relationships among and between organisms and their environment.
  • Plan and administer biological research programs for government, research firms, medical industries, or manufacturing firms.
  • Supervise biological technicians and technologists and other scientists.
  • Write grant proposals to obtain funding for biological research.
  • Identify, classify, and study structure, behavior, ecology, physiology, nutrition, culture, and distribution of plant and animal species.
  • Communicate test results to state and federal representatives and general public.
  • Research environmental effects of present and potential uses of land and water areas, determining methods of improving environmental conditions or such outputs as crop yields.
  • Study and manage wild animal populations.
  • Prepare requests for proposals or statements of work.
  • Measure salinity, acidity, light, oxygen content, and other physical conditions of water to determine their relationship to aquatic life.
  • Prepare plans for management of renewable resources.
  • Teach or supervise students and perform research at universities and colleges.
  • Represent employer in a technical capacity at conferences.
  • Review reports and proposals, such as those relating to land use classifications and recreational development, for accuracy, adequacy, or adherence to policies, regulations, or scientific standards.
  • Study reactions of plants, animals, and marine species to parasites.
  • Develop methods and apparatus for securing representative plant, animal, aquatic, or soil samples.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.