A Biology Degree Can Open the Door to Life and Living
A degree in biology—the study of living organisms and their interactions with the environment—provides many opportunities to both life and living, through many interesting career fields including medicine, agriculture, global climate change or zoology. These are fields that need as many people from across the spectrum as possible, because input from all people helps ensure diversity broadly improves all our lives.
Biology helps us understand how living things work and how they function and interact on multiple levels. Exciting advances in biology have led to better medications and treatments for diseases and a greater understanding of how a changing environment might affect plants and animals to produce enough food for a growing human population.
There are numerous branches and subdisciplines of biology, but the main, broad fields that come under the umbrella of biology include:
- Biochemistry: The study of the chemical processes that take place in or are related to living things. It is a laboratory-based science uniting biology and chemistry that allows biochemists to use chemical knowledge and techniques to understand and solve biological problems. For example, pharmacology is a type of biochemistry that focuses on studying how drugs interact with natural body chemicals.
- Ecology: The study of how organisms interact with their environment. Studying how the environment affects bees, for instance, falls under ecology.
- Genetics: The study of heredity. Geneticists study how genes are passed down and how they vary from person to person. For example, scientists have identified several genes and genetic mutations that influence how humans age, as reported in a 2019 review published in Nature Reviews Genetics.
- Physiology: The study of how living things work. Physiologists seek to understand biological processes, such as how a particular organ works, its function, and how it’s affected by outside stimuli. For example, physiologists have found that listening to music can cause physical changes in the human body, such as a slower or faster heart rate.
Careers in Biology
Although careers in the medical field may be the first opportunities that come to mind, a degree in biology can lead to various career paths, including:
- Genetic Counselors: The job outlook for genetic counselors is expected to grow by 21% between 2019 and 2029, much faster than average for other occupations. Estimated salaries in 2019 ranged from over $61,000 to more than $114,000 in 2019, with a median annual salary of more than $81,000.
- Health Educators and Community Health Workers: The top 10% earned $68,350 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $26,660 or less in 2019. This field is also projected to grow by 11% between 2018 and 2028.
- Pharmaceutical or Medical Product Sales Representatives: The salary range in this field topped at $158,580 for the highest earners to a low of $41,080 or less. A growth rate of 2% is expected.
- Health Communications Specialists: Health communications specialists earn an average annual salary of $63,335. The top 10% earned $84,000 or more, and the bottom 10% earned $50,000 or less.
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How to Prepare for Success
All biologists need to have some basic, foundational understanding of chemistry, physics, math and statistics.
UNCF Schools to Consider
UNCF has 33 member schools that offer programs for students wishing to work in the field of biology, including:
There are thousands of organizations in various fields of biology that offer more insight into working in those fields. A sample list includes:
- Genetics Society of America
- American Society for Cell Biology
- American Society for Microbiology
- Society for the Study of Evolution
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- National Institutes of Health
- National Science Foundation
- Society for Neuroscience
- National Association of Biology Teachers
Several scholarships are available through UNCF. The UNCF General Scholarship Awards are an excellent opportunity for any student going to a UNCF-member college, regardless of their major. The UNCF/Koch Scholars Program offers scholarships, mentorship, academic support and networking opportunities to undergraduate African American students. The Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Scholarship Program awards a $10,000 scholarship to one exceptional HBCU senior each year who has demonstrated high academic achievement, strong leadership skills, commitment to community service and unmet financial need.
Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are scholarships available to study biology.
Reach out for guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in biology. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!