Deciding on a major is one of the toughest decisions high school and college students face. Anyone interested in the study of life and biological sciences, or working in public health or government agencies, has likely considered a biology major.
Studying biology can lead to many different career paths and with the major offered at nearly all colleges and universities, it is no surprise you are considering it as your major. But, is a biology major right for you? Read on to learn more.
What Is Biology?
Biology is the study of living organisms, which means any biology major will spend time learning about living creatures and how they function. In the beginning of a major, biology students will learn the basics to build a foundation in biology. As you progress to graduate school, you can choose to learn more about plant, animal, and/or human biology.
There are many different specialized fields of biology that you can choose to study. Some of the areas you can dive into as you go further into a biology degree include botany, microbiology, zoology, and biochemistry. Many degree programs will allow you to study multiple areas of biology, but they will likely expect you to specialize in one or two at the most.
What to Expect From a Biology Major
It can be difficult to predict what will happen in any major, but knowing what to expect can be the best factor when choosing your degree path. Whether you are pursuing a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, biology majors can expect to focus on similar content, with the difference being advanced degrees going more in-depth than simply general biology.
As is the case with most degrees, biology students will be required to take most of the same core courses before branching off into more specialized courses to suit their career goals. The required core courses help strengthen your understanding of general biology topics before you learn more complex ideas.
Core courses will begin with general education requirements and introductory-level biology courses. Often, these subjects will include ecology, genetics, cell structure and function, and human anatomy.
Most of these courses will include a required lab, which allows for hands-on learning. This type of learning is very useful for science majors. Biology students will also be required to complete additional math and science courses, such as calculus and physics.
Biology Degrees Offered
Biology majors can earn a wide variety of degrees. On offer are associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, with variations of these available as well. Many biology majors choose to pursue a Bachelor of Science (BS) or Master of Science (MS) in Biology.
Many students choose to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology and then pursue a different, but related field in graduate school. A common path is for students to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and then apply for medical school so they can go into medicine. Students who wish to pursue a degree in biomedical sciences earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and then pursue a Master’s Degree in Biomedical Sciences.
Careers for Biology Majors
It is important to have an idea of what you can do with a biology degree once you have earned one. Luckily for biology majors, there are a lot of fields you can go into with a biology degree.
There are plenty of careers available for every level of degree, meaning you can easily find work straight out of undergraduate school. Below are some of the best jobs you can land after majoring in biology.
While veterinarians will need to earn a doctor of veterinary medicine, pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology will greatly benefit them. Having a great foundation in biology will help when applying to doctoral programs, as well as in future studies.
Veterinarians earn an average salary of $95,460 per year, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The job outlook for veterinarians is also very good, with an expected occupational growth of 16 percent over the next decade, making this a great profession to go into for biology majors.
With nothing more than a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and a teaching certificate, you can become a high school biology teacher. This is a great career option if you are interested in teaching and working with adolescents. If you pursue a doctorate in biology, you could become a college professor, allowing you to work in adult education.
On average, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that high school teachers earn around $61,660 per year. While this isn’t the highest salary out there, it is fairly decent, especially if you are seeking job satisfaction over a big paycheck. Or, if you choose to become a college professor, you could earn around $93,000 per year and still have the same job satisfaction.
To become a registered nurse, you will need to complete a nursing degree. However, having an Associate Degree in Biology can help in pursuing a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Nursing, as it gives you a great foundation in the sciences.
Nurses earn an average of $73,300 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The career field is expected to grow seven percent in the next decade, which is faster than other occupations. This is a great field for biology majors to go into, especially if you are interested in helping sick and injured people with their healing process.
Conclusion: Should I Major in Biology?
If learning about the science of life and becoming a veterinarian, teacher, or nurse interests you, you should definitely major in biology. Or, if your focus is geared toward environmental work, a foundation in biology is a great place to start. All in all, majoring in biology is a great way to start your college journey if you plan to go into any field related to sciences.