Is a Biology Degree Right for You?
An online bachelor’s degree in biology is an ideal choice for students who want lay a solid foundation for future graduate study in the sciences or who want to prepare for professional study in a health care field like medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, and more.
A thorough undergraduate background in biology is essential for top careers in the biological sciences, and it is interconnected to health care because it helps people understand how people and other living things grow, function, reproduce, and heal. Biology is well suited for students who enjoy learning through the scientific method and who are interested in research and lab study.
Advice for Earning Your Biology Degree Online
The best online bachelor’s degrees in biology will incorporate campus-based lab work and site-based field work. While this means the program will not be delivered 100% online, it does ensure that students receive the type of hands-on experience needed to succeed in scientific careers. Prospective students should also consider programs that help connect students to internship opportunities that align with their career goals.
Last but not least, students who do plan to pursue professional study in a health care field after earning a bachelor’s in biology should seek out a pre-professional track to ensure they complete the necessary prerequisites for medical school, dental school, or any other professional plan of study they wish to pursue.
All biology majors take introductory courses in biology, general and organic chemistry, cell/microbiology, and physics, and must typically take courses in calculus and/or statistics. These intro courses should all include a lab section where students can apply what they learn in a scientific setting. Beyond this, students typically take the following courses:
- Evolutionary Biology
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Research Methods in the Natural Sciences
Common Career Paths
After graduating from biology bachelor’s degree programs, students typically choose from two different paths — they go on to enroll in graduate school or they establish careers. While graduate school can open up careers that require advanced learning and experience, many job positions are open to graduates who only have bachelor’s degrees.
Salaries in such careers vary based on your level of experience, the size and type of your employer, and where you live.
- Expected Growth: 14%
- Average Annual Salary: $42,290
Biological technicians typically work in labs and assist scientific researchers in their research efforts. These technicians make sure lab equipment and instruments are clean and ready to use, help prepare biological samples for analysis, keep notes on research progress, and prepare reports as necessary.
A bachelor’s degree in biology is the most common requirement to work in this field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The above salary average and job outlook figures are provided by the BLS.
Zoologists and Wildlife biologists
- Expected Growth: 7%
- Average Annual Salary: $61,880
Zoologists study animals in captivity, while wildlife biologists study animals in their natural habitats. Zoologists are often involved in the care and nutrition of zoo animals, taking blood samples to keep track of an animal’s health, observing the animals to take note of behavioral or health changes, and managing breeding efforts, while wildlife biologists might tag animals in the wild to track their migration habits and population numbers, or conduct research that adds to the body of knowledge about certain wild animals.
A bachelor’s degree can help someone land an entry-level position in this field, but those who wish to advance will likely need a graduate degree, the BLS explains. The employment projections and salary average listed above were provided by the BLS.
Environmental Scientists and Specialists
- Expected Growth: 19%
- Average Annual Salary: $68,810
Environmental scientists and specialists conduct research and lead efforts centered on sustainability and protecting the environment. They collect and analyze environmental data; produce reports on their findings; propose solutions to environmental problems; and lead efforts to inform the government, the public, and other stakeholders of environmental hazards.
A bachelor’s degree in one of the natural sciences, such as biology, is a common educational requirement for positions such as these, although a master’s degree may help you advance in the field, the BLS indicates. The above job outlook and salary figures are available through the BLS.
High School Science Teachers
- Expected Growth: 7%
- Average Annual Salary: $56,760
High school science teachers teach subjects like biology, chemistry, and physics to students in grades 9-12. They assess their students’ grasp of the material through quizzes, exams, and projects, and aim to cultivate both an interest and proficiency in science that will prepare their students for future college course work in the sciences. Since many schools have difficulty filling positions for science teachers, particularly in the more challenging subjects of chemistry and physics, there is often more of a demand for science teachers than for teachers of other subjects, the BLS explained.
Students who choose biology as their content area will also need to complete a state-approved teacher preparation program and become licensed or certified to teach in their state. The above salary and job growth projections were provided by the BLS.
Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
- Expected Growth: 24%
- Average Annual Salary: $45,270
Environmental science and protection technicians do environmental field testing and inspections to spot any sources of pollution or contamination, such as ones that might negatively impact human health. They often work on teams with scientists and other technicians, and their daily tasks might include collecting samples and using equipment to measure levels of pollution or toxicity. Common employers of these professionals are government and private environmental consulting firms, with the most employment growth expected in consulting firms.
While an associate degree in one of the natural sciences or a related area is sufficient for many jobs in the field, a bachelor’s degree can aid in career advancement, the BLS points out. The employment growth projections and salary figures listed above were provided by the BLS.