Biology is the study of all living things and their functions and roles on planet earth. The oldest evidence to support life dates back 3.7 billion years, thanks to samples of granite that were discovered to be ‘biogenic’ – that is, to have been the product of life processes. Over millions of years, simple cellular life has evolved into what we see out in the world today – and perhaps beyond. Ultimately, this life science is considered at the forefront of modern technology, as people try to understand more about the life around us and how it can help further our progress as a species.
It really is remarkable stuff.
Generally, biology (or biological studies at some universities) looks at cells,genes, ecology even disease – it’s not just the medical and veterinary students who look at why people and animals get ill, you know. At the end of three (or four) years, you’ll come out with a BSc or MSc, a Bachelor or Master of Science. From then on, it’s possible to specialise in other subjects in order to move into a more precise career option. Of course, that’s not to say that your Biology degree will get you nowhere….
- Six months after graduation, the unemployment rate (including those due to start work) stands at 10.6% – just a little higher than the average but overall not too bad. 14.8% of graduates found themselves in part-time work.
- 36.6% of graduates had a full-time job by the time six months had passed. A further 25.2% of graduates decided to go on into further study the following academic year.
- 6% of graduates got themselves into a combination of work and study at the same time – this doesn’t include Master’s research but is still becoming a more and more interesting option among graduates as they search for something to help further their learning.
For those students who go on into further study, the future looks rather good for you – there are an awful lot of options out there as biology can be such a broad topic.
- Generally, most students head on to a Masters qualification – the last recorded percentage of this was 46.2%. According to the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU), some of the more popular Masters included Oceanography, Animal Science and Aquatics and Ecology.
- 23% of students already obtained a MSc with their first degree so opted to go on to the Doctorate Level – the PhD. Two examples cited were Environmental Biology and Biomolecular Science. Two subjects very much at the forefront of modern technology then!
- Aside from that, 14.2% went on to do the PGCE teaching qualification – a definite sure-fire way to bring yourself into the teaching profession. Given that so many teachers don’t have a relevant qualification for what they are teaching, having studied the subject to a degree or even Master’s standard puts you immediately at a great advantage.
It’s all very well talking about where you end up and all the facts and figures… Though, as is always the case with sciences, you have to be able to explain why. I mean, why are biologists nicely sought-after graduates? Unemployment rates in the field aren’t too bad – so why might you get noticed with a biology degree?
Well, firstly, there is never anything bad in having studied a classical subject like biology. All of the sciences are generally well-regarded by employers, with advances in technology bringing a modern twist to the subjects which is highly valued.
As we become more and more conscious as a society about the environment and how we go about harnessing biology to suit our needs in the future, biology suddenly becomes interesting to the right people. Energy companies are getting more and more concerned over time about how they are going to continue growth and expansion as it is, without even thinking about the companies that supply our fossil fuels, such as the big oil giants.
Different areas of biology focus on experimental biotechnologies on a cellular scale – all of this is considered very modern and with the times. It’s not like everything has been discovered already in the microscopic world of biology. You might find yourself falling over opportunities to continue research into practical applications.
Regrettably, we as humans can be a little clumsy from time to time and so the environment can take a bit of a battering now and again. Understanding the different effects we can have on different biospheres and environments would actually favour conservationist groups and organisations who manage different areas of protected land, such as national parks and delicate environments. Even if there’s no man-made disaster, you’re still rather in demand.
The important thing to remember is that only 1 in 12 biology graduates actually work as a lab technician, so it’s worth noting that this might not be the job you were expecting.
Here are some other potential areas you could end up…
- Pharmacology – I’ve mentioned in my post about chemistry graduates about working with drugs and medicines and their interaction with diseases. Of course, whilst the chemistry graduate will have a knowledge of the chemicals involved, you will have a knowledge of the actual cells and viruses – something they’re likely to be a bit jealous of. Whilst you can trade jokes about being the most useful of the two, your teamwork will no doubt prove extremely useful, as will your common love of writing up long lab reports detailing your findings. Just kidding.
- Conservation – If you’re a lover of the great outdoors and/or animals then this is perhaps the right direction for you. You will be able to understand the effect that man has on the environment and that is going to be extremely valuable for you as you head out into the wilderness. This is a classic example of getting out and not being confined to a laboratory all your life – biologists do get out from time to time, despite what happened at uni…
- Inspiring the future – Teaching is an excellent into the world of science and biology. With a stunning percentage of teachers actually qualified without having a degree in their chosen field. Being a teacher in biology could inspire many students to take on the subject later. If you’re not a qualified teacher, being a GCSE Biology tutor might be a way to get on the ladder, help students and enhance your CV.
I hope that you have found this blog post interesting and informative. Feel free to share your thoughts about careers in Biology via the comments section below.