School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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What's a biologist

Careers A to Z

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  • Career: a job that do for a long time, also can be the period of time spent in a job.

What Jobs Are There for Biologists?

Here are some of the career options available to a biologist. While they may each require different amounts of education and training, each is important for helping to understand the diverse world of biology. This list does not contain all the possible careers, but gives an idea about the many unique career possibilities available. To give you a more detailed idea of what you could do as a biologist, we've highlighted several specific jobs or areas of study, often from researchers associated with Arizona State University's School of Life Sciences.

Many of these careers also overlap. For example, as part of an animal physiologist's job, he or she may write about research findings for the public (science writing), use research findings to help a species survive (conservation scientist), or communicate information about a species through art (biological illustrator).

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             Job Name           What They Study or Do
  • Anatomist
  the shape, size, and position of various parts of an organism
  • Animal behaviorist
 the behaviors of animals
  • Animal scientist
 non-wildlife animals, including those that are domestic or farmed
 human beings in both the present and the past
  • Archaeologist
 human activity in the past
  • Astrobiologist
 the origin, evolution, and future of life in the universe

 

Peter Marting working on electronics for the Flick-o-maticLone Azteca ant searching
Some animal behaviorists use a range of skills in research, from detailed observation skills, to skills in electronics and engineering. Click each photo for more detail.
 Lipid bilayer micelle Jess Corman and Jorge Ramos collecting microbes

Astrobiologists conduct a wide variety of studies to help them learn about how life began. Click each photo for more detail.  

 

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            Job Name What They Study or Do
  • Biochemist
  the chemical processes within living organisms
  • Bioengineer        
 solves real-world problems (often related to human health) using knowledge from biology
  • Bioethicist
 moral issues that may occur as scientists make new discoveries in biology and medicine
  • Biogeographer
 the geographic distribution of organisms
  • Bioinformation scientist  
 creates new software, programs, or organization for scientists to understand large sets of information
  • Biological illustrator 
 uses creative illustrations to help people learn about biology
  • Biomechanic
 structure and function of biological systems in living things 
  • Biomedical researcher 
 develops new products or information that aids the field of medicine 
  • Biophysicist 
 physics involved in living systems 
  • Biostatistician 
 designs experiments and analyzes data 
  • Biotechnologist 
 uses a biological system or organism to create a new technology
  • Botanist 
 structure and function of plants 

 

 Sabine Deviche working on the plant poster for Ask A BiologistBeetle illustration by Sabine Deviche
Biological illustrators create illustrations that help people learn about biology or communicate biological information. Click each photo for more detail.
protein representation created by KL using Cn3D based on PDB 3o9mKathy Larrimore injects bacteria into a tobacco relative.
 


Some biotechnologists use plants to create technologies. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What They Study or Do
  • Cellular biologist
  organisms, focusing on the processes that happen in or between cells
  • Conservation scientist
 Earth's biodiversity; main goal is to protect species and ecosystems from extinction
  • Dentist
 specialist in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases of the mouth
  • Developmental biologist
 how organisms' organs grow and develop
  • Doctor
 diagnoses and treats human disease, injury, and other ailments

 

Sea turtle tracking by Jesse SenkoSea turtle caught in a net

Conservation scientists often focus on learning information to benefit the survival of a specific species or area. Click each photo for more detail.

Human head section

Doctor in surgery

Doctors focus on human health, whether they treat or prevent disease or injuries, or they study specific diseases. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Ecologist
  organisms and their interaction with the environment
  • Embryologist
 development of the embryo between fertilization and the time the embryo becomes a fetus
  • Endocrinologist
 the endocrine system, the collection of glands in the body that produce and secrete hormones
  • Entomologist
 studies insects
  • Environmental lawyer
 create, implement, and defend laws and regulations relating to the effects of human activity on the natural environment
  • Environmental scientist
 environmental problems like pollution and climate change, as well as how humans see and feel about the environment
  • Epidemiologist
 causes and effects of health and disease on human or animal populations
  • Evolutionary biologist
 evolutionary processes of living things on Earth

 

 Pierre Deviche retrieves a bird from  a bird net Centipede parental care
Endocrinologists study how hormones affect physiology, behavior, and survival. Click each photo for more detail.
K2 in the Himalayas Environmental lawyer
Environmental lawyers fight to protect the natural environment. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Fisheries scientist
  works at a fishery, which can be wild fish habitat or a place where fish are bred for recreational or commercial purposes
  • Food scientist
 food, including creating new foods or improving the processes used to produce food
  • Forensic scientist
 gathers and studies information to understand events that have occurred in the past
  • Forester
 managing forests, including the use of forest resources for recreational purposes or commercial goods
  • Geneticist
 genetics, the study of genes
  • Genomicist
 the assembly, sequence, and function of genomes, the complete set of DNA within the cell of an organism

 

Mar Mancha interviews fishermenGillnet bycatch
Fisheries scientists may work to find a balance between protecting a species and supporting fishing communities. Click each photo for more detail.
 Sugar cube carmelization Louis Pasteur
Food scientists create or study new food, food-related safety measures, or preservation processes. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Herpetologist
  amphibians (for example, frogs) and reptiles (for example, snakes)
  • Histologist
 the microscopic anatomy of cells and tissues of an organism
  • Histopathologist
 tissue on the microscopic scale in order to understand the effects of disease
  • Historian of biology
 documents the history of how the study of biology has happened and changed over time
  • Horticulturist
 improves the way that fruits, vegetables, and plant-based foods are produced
  • Ichthyologist
 fish
  • Immunologist
 the immune system, the body’s system that fights disease
  • Journal editor
 judge, edit, and monitor research publications
  • Kinesiologist
 human movement
  • Landscape architect
 planning and design of gardens and other landscapes
  • Limnologist
 the properties, such as chemical and physical, of inland bodies of water

 

 scientist looking through microscopeSpongy bone histology slide
Histologists study the anatomy of cells and tissues of living organisms. Click each photo for more detail.
Gambusia marshi Eric Moody taking water samples
Icthyologists study fish. Because this is a specialty on a specific type of organism, they might study many different things about fish, such as behavior, physiology, or ecology. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Mammalogist
  mammals
  • Marine biologist
 organisms that live in the ocean or in brackish bodies of water 
  • Medical assistant
 performs administrative and other tasks in a doctor’s office
  • Medical illustrator
 records medical knowledge by creating illustrations
  • Mental health professional
 specializes in the services for treating and maintaining a person’s mental health
  • Microbiologist
 characteristics and growth of very small (microscopic) organisms such as fungi
  • Microscopist
 uses microscopes to study objects that cannot be seen with the naked eye
  • Molecular biologist
 interactions of various systems of a single cell
  • Morphologist
 internal and external features of organisms and their function
  • Mycologist
 fungi

 

Fish and wildlife marine birdMantis shrimp
Marine biologists work on organisms that live in or depend on the sea, such as seabirds, crustaceans, and microscopic plankton. Click each photo for more detail.
 Morning Glory hot spring in Yellowstone Microbiologists working for the USDA
Microbiologists study microbial life, including bacteria, fungi, and parasites. Microbiologists may work in the lab a lot, but many also get outside to study these organisms in the wild. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Naturalist
 understands a variety of life and processes, usually of a particular area
  • Nature writer
  writing personal observations and scientific information to relay information about the natural environment
  • Neuroscientist
 the nervous system and how it controls the various systems and processes of an organism
  • Nurse
 cares for individuals, families, and communities so that they may maintain or recover a healthy quality of life
  • Ornithologist
 birds
  • Osteopath
 uses alternative health practices to treat patients, including postural, nutritional, and other health servies

 

Neroscientists testing reaction speedsA dog running through a maze
Neuroscientists focus their work on the nervous system, which includes mainly the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. Some neuroscientists study humans, but others work with different animal species. Click each photo for more detail.
Captured great bustardKessler and team observing bustards
Ornithologists study birds. Because this is a specialty on a specific type of organism, they might study many different things about birds, such as bird behavior or how to conserve a certain species. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Paramedic
  works in emergency medical situations
  • Parasitologist
 parasites, their hosts, and the interaction between them
  • Paleontologist
 fossils to determine the evolution of an organism, as well as its interaction with other organisms and the environment
  • Philosopher of biology
 ethical issues that may occur as a result of exploring different theories and concepts in the biological sciences
  • Photobiologist
 how light interacts with and affects organisms
  • Phycologist
 algae
  • Physical therapist
 promotes and restores the functional abilities of a person after an injury
  • Physiologist
 various systems (cells, tissues, organs) of an organism that work to carry out body functions
  • Plant scientist or plant ecologist
 plant life, plant species diversity and distribution.
  • Population biologist
 populations of organisms, such as the regulation of population size or the extinction of a particular population
  • Professor
 teach college biology courses
  • Proteomicist
 structure and function of proteins

 

Leaf litter photodegredationtriops swimming upside down
Photobiologists study how light affects organisms and biological processes. Click each photo for more detail.
La Cebadilla CienegaDustin Wolkis recording soil metrics
Plant scientists may study plant physiology, plant distribution, plant ecology, or more plant-related subjects. Click each photo for more detail.


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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Radiologist
 diagnose disease using medical imaging 
  • Research scientist
 conducts a variety of research for a specific university or establishment
  • Science journalist
  takes very technical information written by scientists and rewrites it in a way that is easy for a nonscientist to read, while still including the important scientific information of the work
  • Science writer
 writes to convey information about science to the public
  • Soil scientist
 soil as a natural resource, including its biological properties and classification
  • Sustainability scientist
 works to understand the consequences of human actions on the Earth
  • Teacher
 teach students about biology
  • Technologist
 collects samples from humans and performs tests to analyze body fluids, tissues, and other substances
  • Theoretical biologist
 uses available data from known theories of biology in order to generate new theories
  • Thermal biologist
 how heat interacts with and affects living organisms

 

 Science observations Algae biofuel tubes
Science writers form a bridge between scientists and the public. They take difficult, often dense, information, and communicate it in a way that is interesting and understandable to people unfamiliar with the subject matter. Click each photo for more detail.
 Thermal choice set up for Drosophila egg layingEgg containers
Thermal biologists study how heat or temperature affects how living organisms behave, how their bodies work or develop, and how they evolve. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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             Job Name What they Study or Do
  • Underwater photographer
 captures images of aquatic life
  • Veterinarian
  treats diseases and injuries of non-human animals
  • Virologist
 structure, classification, and evolution of viruses and virus-like agents
  • Wildlife manager
 balances the needs of humans with the needs of animals or other organisms in the wild
  • X-ray crystallographer
 atomic and molecular structures of crystals made from organic matter (protein crystals, for example)
  • ZooKeeper
 manages animals housed in a zoo for conservation purposes or to be viewed by the public
  • Zoologist
 animals

 

 Virologist garbHIV virus
Virologists study viruses, their evolution, development, and reproduction, and the effects that they have on their hosts. Click each photo for more detail.
Ocelot by Karla MoellerKarla Moeller training a black rhinoceros at Fossil Rim Wildlife Park
Zookeepers are involved in the care, training, and breeding of exotic species, many of which are important to national breeding programs. Click each photo for more detail.

 

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Remember, we couldn't cover all the types of biologists and many of these jobs overlap. So if there is an organism or a biological process you are interested in studying, make sure to search for information on it.

Your perfect biology job is out there!


Additional images via Wikimedia Commons. 

Hominin skulls

Biologists study the living world. Some biologists (called Anthropologists) study the human part of that living world. Visit Ask An Anthropologist to learn more about how humans came to be the way they are today.

 

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

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Hominin skulls

Biologists study the living world. Some biologists (called Anthropologists) study the human part of that living world. Visit Ask An Anthropologist to learn more about how humans came to be the way they are today.

 

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.