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Career in Biology


Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development and evolution. Despite the complexity of the science, there are certain unifying concepts that consolidate it into a single, coherent field. Biology recognizes the cell as the basic unit of life, genes as the basic unit of heredity, and evolution as the engine that propels the creation and extinction of species. Living organisms are open systems that survive by transforming energy and decreasing their local entropy to maintain a stable and vital condition defined as homeostasis.

Sub-disciplines of biology are defined by the research methods employed and the kind of system studied: theoretical biology uses mathematical methods to formulate quantitative models while experimental biology performs empirical experiments to test the validity of proposed theories and understand the mechanisms underlying life and how it appeared and evolved from non-living matter about 4 billion years ago through a gradual increase in the complexity of the system.


Biological science is the study of life and is therefore one of the broadest subjects you can study. Biology encompasses everything from the molecular study of life processes right up to the study of animal and plant communities.

Biology degrees are extensive, so as you might expect, careers for biology graduates are equally as wide-ranging. Careers you could pursue with a biology degree include:

Biology careers can lead you to study living organisms to help develop biological knowledge and understanding of living processes for a number of different purposes, including treatment of disease and sustaining the natural environment.

Many biology degree graduates choose to study at postgraduate level within a specialization or related field, in order to further their expertise and help career progression, although further study often isn’t necessary for many.

Read on to find out more about the selection of typical – and less typical – biology careers available for both undergraduates and postgraduates.

Scientific research is not only crucial within society but also a highly stimulating career for biology graduates. As a research biologist you’ll aim to develop knowledge of the world around us by studying living organisms. Careers in research provide perhaps the broadest scope of all careers with a biology degree, as research can be conducted across all specializations.

Most common is research within the medical and life sciences, covering areas such as health and disease, neurology, genomics, microbiology and pharmacology. Researchers help to develop societal knowledge within many areas and, with the right additional qualifications, can be found within academia, research institutes, medical facilities and hospitals, and also within business and industry.


There are various requirements for Biology that they need to fulfil to pursue a career in Biology. The requirements are classified under three heads –


Biology deals with the study of life and is a branch of natural sciences. It deals with living organisms and their interactions with the environment. Over the years, Biology has become one of the standard subjects of instruction in schools. All the higher learning institutes across the world offer courses in Biology. A popular career option in the field is that of a biologist who plays a vital role in examining the structure, origin, growth, function and distribution of living things. A biologist will also classify and describe organisms, their functions and the way these species come into existence. Biology has emerged as one of the dominating fields in modern science in the recent years. Therefore, a career in biology is a great choice for students.

Usually, higher-level jobs in Biology require higher-level educational qualifications. If you want to make a career in Biology, you should start from Class 12 itself. After Class 12, students can take up courses in associated fields of Biology like Zoology, Botany, Aquatic Biology, Biotechnology, Fishery Science, Marine Biology etc at Bachelor’s level. After the Bachelor’s degree level, students can take up Master’s followed by research courses in Biology. Students with at least a Master’s degree in Biology or associated fields will have chances to get better jobs.

Subjects Combination: For taking up Bachelor’s course in Biology, students must choose Science stream in Class 12 with Biology as one of the major subjects of study.


  • Class 12 with Science stream (Biology as major subjects) is mandatory to take up Bachelor’s course in Biology and associated courses.

  • For taking up Master’s course in Biology and associated fields, students must have a Bachelor’s degree in the same field.

  • For taking up M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses in Biology, Master’s Degree in Biology and associated fields are mandatory.

  • For most UG courses, there will no entrance test except for Biomedical Engineering course.

  • For all master’s courses in biology, students will have to clear the entrance test conducted by universities/ institutes.

  • There will be also an entrance test for Ph.D. and M.Phil. courses.

Books & Study Material to Become Biologist

Students preparing for various entrance exams for the admission to Biology courses or the candidates who are pursuing courses in Biology can refer the following books for enhancing knowledge.

  • Genetics: Concept of Genetics by Klug and Cummings

  • Animal Behaviour by VK Agarwal

  • Ecology by PD Sharma

  • Vertebrates by RL Kotpal

  • Invertebrates by RL Kotpal

  • Molecular Biology and Cell Biology by Krap

  • Embryology by AK Berry

Pros of becoming a Biologist

  • Biology-related professions are experiencing positive job growth in India.

  • Excellent pay packages.

Cons of becoming a Biologist

  • Candidates pursuing careers in biology should expect a highly competitive job market.

  • Some positions within the biology industry may require exposure to hazardous materials and substances.

Top Colleges to pursue career as Biologist

  • BU Bhopal,

  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai

  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune

  • St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai



  • DG Vaishnav College, Chennai

  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kharagpur

  • Mount Carmel College, Bangalore


  • Knowledge of biology

  • To be thorough and pay attention to detail

  • Maths knowledge

  • Excellent written communication skills

  • Analytical thinking skills

  • Excellent verbal communication skills

  • The ability to work well with your hands

  • The ability to use your initiative

  • To be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Your tasks will depend on your specialism and could include:

  • improving productivity in livestock or crops

  • cleaning polluted rivers

  • protecting plants and animals

  • developing new methods to diagnose, monitor and treat illness or disease

  • preventing food contamination or creating ways to dispose of waste safely

  • designing and carrying out experiments, making observations, writing reports and publishing scientific papers


  • Appreciation for the diversity of life on earth

  • Understanding the flow of energy and matter in biological systems

  • Understanding the process and outcomes of evolution

  • Observing of the interdependence of living things

  • Strategies for sustainable living

  • Understanding the role of biology in addressing societal issues Understanding the mechanisms of genetic inheritance and information flow

  • Observing emergent properties of complex biological networks

  • Understanding structure-function relationships from molecules to ecosystems


Biology is an area of science with numerous subdisciplines that are concerned with all aspects of life, in fact all aspects of modern human life. That said, there are countless career options, ranging from basic science to industrial or agricultural applications. These are the main branches of biology:[78][79][a]

  • Anatomy – the study of organisms’ structures

    • Comparative anatomy – the study of evolution of species through similarities and differences in their anatomy

    • Histology – the study of tissues, a microscopic branch of anatomy

  • Astrobiology (also known as exobiology, exopaleontology, and bio astronomy) – the study of evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe

  • Biochemistry – the study of the chemical reactions required for life to exist and function, usually a focus on the cellular level

  • Biological engineering – the attempt to create products inspired by biological systems or to modify and interact with the biological systems

  • Biogeography – the study of the distribution of species spatially and temporally

  • Bioinformatics – the use of information technology for the study, collection, and storage of genomic and other biological data

  • Biolinguistics – the study of the biology and evolution of language

  • Biomechanics – the study of the mechanics of living beings

  • Biomedical research – the study of health and disease

  • Biophysics – the study of biological processes by applying the theories and methods traditionally employed in the physical sciences

  • Biotechnology – the study of the manipulation of living matter, including genetic modification and synthetic biology

    • Synthetic biology – research integrating biology and engineering; construction of biological functions not found in nature

  • Botany – the study of plants

  • Cell biology – the study of the cell as a complete unit, and the molecular and chemical interactions that occur within a living cell

  • Chronobiology – the study of periodic events in living systems

  • Cognitive biology – the study of cognition

  • Conservation biology – the study of the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation, and wildlife

  • Cryobiology – the study of the effects of lower than normally preferred temperatures on living beings

  • Developmental biology – the study of the processes through which an organism forms, from zygote to full structure

    • Embryology – the study of the development of embryo (from fecundation to birth)

    • Gerontology – study of ageing processes

  • Ecology – the study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with the non-living elements of their environment

  • Evolutionary biology – the study of the origin and descent of species over time

  • Genetics – the study of genes and heredity

    • Genomics – the study of genomes

    • Epigenetics – the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence

  • Immunology – the study of the immune system

  • Marine biology (or biological oceanography) – the study of ocean ecosystems, plants, animals, and other living beings

  • Microbiology – the study of microscopic organisms (microorganisms) and their interactions with other living things

  • Molecular biology – the study of biology and biological functions at the molecular level, some cross over with biochemistry

  • Nanobiology – the application of nanotechnology in biological research, and the study of living organisms and parts on the nanoscale level of organization

  • Neuroscience – the study of the nervous system

  • Paleontology – the study of fossils and sometimes geographic evidence of prehistoric life

  • Pathobiology or pathology – the study of diseases, and the causes, processes, nature, and development of disease

  • Pharmacology – the study of the interactions between drugs and organisms

  • Physiology – the study of the functions and mechanisms occurring in living organisms

  • Phytopathology – the study of plant diseases (also called Plant Pathology)

  • Psychobiology – the application of methods traditionally used in biology to study human and non-human animals behaviour

  • Quantum biology – the study of the role of quantum phenomena in biological processes

  • Socio-biology - the study of social behaviour in terms of evolution

  • Systems biology – the study of complex interactions within biological systems through a holistic approach

  • Structural biology – a branch of molecular biology, biochemistry, and biophysics concerned with the molecular structure of biological macromolecules

  • Theoretical biology – the branch of biology that employs abstractions and mathematical models to explain biological phenomena

  • Zoology – the study of animals, including classification, physiology, development, evolution and behaviour, including:


Biologists are required for diverse jobs. The following are some of the job profiles that Biologists can take up after obtaining the necessary skills.

Biomedical Engineer: The responsibility of the biomedical engineer is to figure out solutions for different medical problems by designing equipment or artificial organs to be replaced inside the body. For becoming a biomedical engineer, students need to pursue a four-year course in Biomedical engineering at UG level.

Environmental Scientist: These scientists study the environment in the interest of living beings, plants and animals and find probable ways to conserve these organisms. They also deal with pollution and other factors that are harmful to the well-being of the environment. They figure out solutions for solving such problems and propose eco-friendly techniques for the same.

Food Scientist: The responsibility of a food scientist is to deal with safety and processing of food products through a detailed study and research.

Forensic Scientist: The responsibility of a forensic scientist is to perform chemical and physical analysis to test and draw interferences for crime or other records.

Microbiologist: A microbiologist deals with the study of microbes for developing useful medicines such as vaccines.

Biotechnologist: Biotechnologists use technology to develop animal products such as leather. A career in this field needs extensive experience and research.

Researcher: A person with a higher qualification in Biology is required in various industries such as companies that manufacture medicines etc to carry out research and figure out the pros and cons of a specific product.

Lecturer: Biologists can also become lectures in universities and colleges after attaining the necessary qualifications.

Biologists have good scope to get employment opportunities in the government sector. However, there is a good scope for a career in the private sector too. Biologists are required in the following areas: -

  • Research

  • Healthcare

  • Environmental Management and Conservation

  • Education Sector (Lecturer or Teacher)

  • Science Museums

  • Pharmacy Companies

  • Zoo, Aquariums, Parks and Nature Centres

  • Chemical Manufacturing Units

Some of the top companies and industries require skilled Biologists for various positions. The list of top recruiting companies for Biologists can be checked below.

  • Biocon

  • Serum Institute of India Ltd.

  • Jubilant Life Sciences Ltd.

  • Syngene International Ltd.

  • Biological E.

  • Nuziveedu Seeds

  • AstraZeneca Pharma India Ltd.

  • Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company

  • Bharat Biotech

  • GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

Apart from the above, Biologists have good scope to secure employment in the government sector.


Biologists in diverse sectors earn a satisfactory salary. Most companies pay more for highly skilled and experienced Biologists and researchers. The average salary structure of Biologists is detailed below.

Job ProfileStarting Salary per annum (in INR)Mid-Level Salary per annum (in INR)Senior Level Salary per annum (In INR)Biomedical EngineerRs. 3,30,000Rs. 5,00,000Rs. 8,00,000Environmental ScientistRs. 3,60,000Rs. 5,00,000Rs. 8,00,000Food ScientistRs. 3,40,000Rs. 5,00,000Rs. 8,00,000Forensic ScientistRs. 4,00,000Rs. 6,00,000Rs. 8,00,000MicrobiologistRs. 2,90,000Rs. 4,50,000Rs. 7,00,000BiotechnologistRs. 4,00,000Rs. 5,70,000Rs. 9,00,000Lecturer/ Professor/ Assistant Professor/ Associate ProfessorRs. 2,00,000Rs. 6,00,000Rs. 10,00,000

Note: The above figures are an estimate and may vary from individual to individual and company to company.


Why should I become a biologist?

Are you interested in:

  • animals?

  • plants?

  • high school biology?

  • designing experiments?

  • participating in science fairs?

  • reading magazines and books about science and living organisms?

  • learning how animals’ function - including humans?

  • collecting butterflies, shells or fossils?

  • going to zoos, natural history museums and botanical gardens?

  • snorkelling?

  • aquariums?

  • bird-watching?

  • nature programs on television?

Would you like to:

  • be the first to observe or discover something?

  • develop theories that will lead to new ways of thinking about the world?

  • improve environmental quality?

  • protect endangered species?

  • teach others about living organisms?

  • write about living organisms?

If you answered yes to several of these questions, biology could be a promising career for you. Embarking on a career in biology has many paths; each with its own rewards and challenges. Which path you take will have as much to do with your personality as it does your intellectual curiosity and interests. Being a biologist can be a fulfilling and exciting profession if your own personal goals, talents and interests match the activities of biologists.

What do biologists do?

Research. Conducting research can be a satisfying and challenging experience that runs the gamut from the exhilaration of new discovery to the day-to-day tedium of repetitive experiments. Depending upon their interests and place of employment, biologists may engage in basic or applied research.

Basic research is pure science motivated by the need to answer questions about how organisms function or evolve. It is often curiosity-driven and it allows scientists to create new knowledge. Basic research is extremely important to society, because it fosters the development of new theories - conceptual frameworks that help scientists understand and explain the living world, and it provides the basis for applied research.

Applied research is characterized by the application of concepts and is driven by the need to solve problems that are often of immediate concern to society, medicine or industry. The distinction between basic and applied research is often blurred, however, because a scientist might be engaged in both enterprises as one flows logically from the other. For example, scientists can apply knowledge of the basic biology and ecology of an insect pest to develop an integrated pest management strategy that will minimize pesticide use and environmental damage.

Teaching. Teaching offers biologists personal as well as intellectual rewards. As faculty, biologists may teach in a formal classroom setting or serve as mentors in a research laboratory. The teaching setting may even extend beyond the boundaries of the classroom into the community or the environment.

Informal Education. Biologists may also communicate science to the public. For example, they might:

  • create educational exhibits for museums, zoos or aquaria.

  • give public lectures or workshops.

  • write science articles published in newspapers, magazines and books.

  • produce educational software or multimedia applications.

  • develop educational films and television programs.

Administration. Biologists in academe, industry and government are often in positions that require many other skills in addition to their biological knowledge. Management and administrative positions require excellent communication skills and business knowledge, as well as information management and computer skills.

Who hires biologists?

Teaching institutions such as:

  • colleges and universities

  • community and junior colleges

  • technical schools

  • high school

Industries involved with the development and application of new products:

  • agricultural products and pesticide production

  • biological testing

  • biotechnology

  • food industry

  • health-related consumer items

  • independent research laboratories

  • pharmaceutical sales and production

Governmental agencies are primary employers of biologists. Federal agencies include:

  • Bureau of Land Management

  • Environmental Protection Agency

  • Fish and Wildlife Service

  • Food and Drug Administration

  • Geological Survey

  • National Institutes of Health

  • National Park Service

  • National Science Foundation

  • Department of Agriculture

Most states have agencies that are potential employers, such as:

  • agricultural extension services

  • resource protection authorities

  • forest services

  • health departments

  • natural resource conservation boards

  • water quality and water development boards

Other employers include:

  • zoos and aquaria

  • environmental consulting firms

  • museums

  • theme parks

  • private foundations

How much do biologists earn? Will I be able to support a family?

In general, biologists earn middle-income salaries that are adequate to support a family and enjoy a comfortable standard of living. Salaries vary, of course, depending upon training, level of experience, and geographical area.

What major should I choose?

The undergraduate major you choose will depend on the degree programs offered by the college or university you attend and your area of interest. Many academic institutions offer the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology, while others offer topic-specific degrees such as Bachelor of Science degrees in Botany, Microbiology, Zoology and Cell/Molecular Biology.

Visit with an academic counsellor to learn about available degree plans and departmental emphases for each college or university you consider. Many biology departments across the country are redrawing their academic boundaries; some are splitting molecular, cellular and developmental biology from organismal, ecology and evolutionary biology; some schools are merging departments traditionally divided on taxonomic grounds - botany and zoology; and some are drawing departmental lines based upon level of analysis - molecular/cellular versus organismal/ecosystem. Even though biology is an integrative science that should be unified into an interrelated network of subdisciplines, one large life science department is often not practical to manage, as conflicts among faculty interest groups arise over career standards, funding resources and methodologies.

What are some of the subdisciplines in biology?

Biological sciences include so many approaches to studying living organisms that it is not easy to describe them all. Biologists may specialize on a specific group of organisms or may take a comparative approach to study certain life processes. Life may be studied at various levels - molecular, cellular, organismal, population, community or ecosystem. Some bio scientists are parts of multidisciplinary teams that tackle several aspects of the same problem. Ultimately, however, it is the nature and scope of the research problem that determines which techniques and research strategies are appropriate.

New subdisciplines in biology will surely emerge as a consequence of rapidly changing technology and the appearance of new global health and environmental problems. Today, students embarking on a new career in biology would be well advised to position themselves to be adaptable to change; specialization in any one field of biology is no guarantee that it will be a lifelong endeavour.

Modern biology is integrative in the sense that a biological question may be studied from different fields as diverse as biochemistry and behaviour, and from different vantage points ranging from molecules to whole organisms and even ecosystems. Many biologists use a comparative approach, comparing structures, organisms, ecosystems, etc. This is necessary to understand biodiversity and evolutionary change.

If I decide to become a biologist, what classes should I take?

Biologists tend to be well-rounded in the sciences and typically complete chemistry (through organic), physics, biochemistry and mathematics courses in addition to their biology courses. The upper-level biology courses taken by biology majors depend upon their degree requirements, courses available and the student's own area of interest. Some biologists prefer to become broadly trained at the undergraduate level and some prefer to specialize immediately. This usually determines the biology courses a student elects to take.

Are there other activities I should participate in besides formal classes?

Selecting a career that matches your personal goals and talents requires that you have enough background information to make an informed choice. Students with unrealistic expectations can be disappointed to find that the coursework, dedication and years of study required to become a scientist are not what they bargained for or contribute to the lifestyle that they want. Take the initiative early to explore career options.

Research different occupations and employers that hire biologists.

  • Arrange to "shadow" someone in a career that interests you. Spend several days with him/her in the workplace to witness first-hand what it would be like to have a similar career.

  • Review current job listings to see what characteristics employers want. Go to the library or Internet and access the classified advertisements in trade journals. Refer to the section at the end of this brochure for a listing of some helpful titles and Web sites.

Acquire practical experience through:

  • Volunteer work.

  • Summer college courses.

  • Summer internships for high school students or undergraduates. Many colleges and universities offer summer internships, which are excellent opportunities to interact with scientists and gain practical research experience.

  • Visit Peterson's Education Centre on the Internet to do a quick search of summer programs. (

  • Check with the undergraduate advisor for summer programs offered locally. Many research faculty have stipends for summer research in their laboratories or in the field.

  • The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) funds research experiences for both high school students and undergraduates. Search their web site for "summer programs." (

  • The National Science Foundation not only funds summer internships but also maintains a Web site with links to other summer programs. (

  • Undergraduate research. Become involved with research as an undergraduate - preferably during the junior and senior years. Most universities have courses that may be listed as independent studies, problems or undergraduate research. An important part of the research experience is sharing your results through professional meetings and publishing papers. Most states have an Academy of Science with a Junior Academy specifically designed for high school students and college undergraduates. These are excellent opportunities to present your project results, meet faculty from state universities and hear their research presentations. Additionally, increasing numbers of undergraduate researchers present the results of their studies as talks and posters at the SICB Annual Meetings.

How much training will I need? Should I go to graduate school?

It depends upon your career goals. In general, you have the following options.

Bachelor's degree. Some students directly enter the workplace after completing their undergraduate degrees and have happy, productive careers. Many take entry-level positions in industry or government or become K-12 teachers.

Master's degree. Others go into graduate programs to build their knowledge to higher technical levels. A master's degree prepares you as a professional in a technical field or gives you the background to do more advanced study. People with master's degrees may become secondary school teachers, junior college instructors, or laboratory technicians in industry, government and universities.

Ph.D. degree. The Ph.D. degree is a research degree that allows you to add to the body of existing scientific and technical knowledge. If your career goals include directing research or teaching at the college or university level, you should strongly consider entering a doctoral program.

Postdoctoral Study. If you desire a research career in academe, it is often necessary to spend one or more years beyond the Ph.D. in postdoctoral study. If the field is very competitive, it is not unusual for scientists to have several postdoctoral positions in succession before they find suitable academic positions.

People who complete graduate studies share a strong commitment to their discipline and are prepared to face the high level of competition for grant money necessary to fund research. They enjoy learning, solving problems, discovering new facts and are excited about what they do.

How do I apply to graduate school?

  • The best source of information on application procedures is your own university.

  • Check with your undergraduate advisor. As someone who has been through the process, this person is knowledgeable and can direct you to available resources.

  • Gather information on graduate schools. In addition to talking to your academic advisor, check the reference area of your university library and the Internet. One valuable resource is Peterson's Education Centre. (

  • Take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). This exam is required by most graduate programs and should be completed during the junior or senior year. Some graduate programs also require an advanced test in a specialty. Once you decide on a graduate program, check the entrance requirement to determine if an advanced test is required.

  • Write to the schools that interest you and ask for information and application materials. Examine these materials carefully to ensure you complete all of the requirements for admission by the stated deadlines. Meeting deadlines is good practice, since missing deadlines in graduate school can have long-term consequences.

What is the best major to get into medical/dental school?

Any major is fine as long as you complete and do well in certain courses. Examine your curriculum carefully and plan a course of study that meets the requirements for your bachelor's degree, as well as for admission to the medical or dental school of your choice. Most medical schools require introductory courses in:

  • biology

  • chemistry

  • physics

  • calculus

  • English

  • psychology

Be aware that the competition to be accepted into medical school is very tough - there are four applicants for every spot in entering medical school classes. Early commitment and devotion to becoming prepared is a must!


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