Whether it’s birds, mammals, fish, wetlands or habitat restoration… There’s at least 33 branches of biology where a biologist can excel.
Even though it’s a noble occupation, it may not be the easiest path to get your feet on the ground. More on this later.
How much do biologists earn?
Biologists earn on average about 65,000$. Depending on experience and education, this amount can go up or down. Consulting tends to pay the best but it’s accompanied with most stress and unbalanced schedule.
Typical employers who hire biologists include:
- Environmental consultants
- Non-profit organizations
For biology careers, job growth is steady. The outlook is in the normal to positive range. Out of all careers in Earth science, you get to work on a diversity of projects and survey types. And you get paid pretty well doing it.
What do wildlife biologists specialize in?
Wildlife biologists ensure operations are within stewardship policies. Here are some of the activities that wildlife biologists undergo:
- BASELINE STUDIES: By establishing baseline studies, they can confirm construction projects limit risk of endangered animal populations. For example, baseline studies often gather data regarding wildlife populations and/or habitat through observation, recording and analysis of scientific data.
- AUDIO/VISUAL SURVEYS: Common types of surveys wildlife biologists conduct are audio and visual wildlife surveys during day and/or night. This could include anything from birds, amphibians, reptiles, mammals and all the classifications of life.
Biologists work closely with ecologists. Ecologists assess population dynamics and how organisms relate to the physical and natural environment.
Where do biologists work?
Biologists work in a variety of settings including in the field, laboratory or office.
You can have long hours in the field. For example, you may spend hours doing bird migration survey in a remote area wetland. Some weeks you will be working nights doing bat surveys or days of helicopter surveys.
With that said, some biologists have a good balance of time in the field and office. After collecting field data, they write a report on it. Rinse and repeat
Deadlines can be stressful in the world of consulting. But like any job, this can be common.
What complimentary skills are useful for biologists?
If there were two complimentary skills to add to your repertoire, they would be Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and statistics.
- GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS: Because most survey sites are location-based, this makes the use of GIS very relevant. Each mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian location have geographic coordinates. Therefore, it makes sense to collect, store, visualize and analyze them in a GIS. For example, if you want to know how far an endangered species is to a construction site, GIS can perform this analysis with ease.
- STATISTICS: Statistics is often a good complementary to establish populations and sample size. Although these are not always easy to obtain, your reports become much more meaningful with the use of statistics.
What do wetland, marine and fish biologists specialize in?
The goal for all these types of biologists is to improve the status of various threatened fish, marine life or wetlands.
- FISHERIES BIOLOGISTS: Fisheries biologists use specialized sampling techniques to collect fish samples and specimens from rivers and lakes. After they gather the data, they record their findings and submit it in a detailed report. In general, these findings are for management strategies and sustainable fisheries operations.
- WETLAND BIOLOGISTS: On the other hand, wetland biologists relate flora, fauna, and plant to riparian areas, ponds and wetlands.
- MARINE BIOLOGISTS: Finally, marine biologists tend to work in ocean environments and understand how life in the oceans behave in their natural habitats.
What level of education is required for biologists?
ENTRY POSITIONS: After graduating college, you’ll likely start a biologist career in an entry position like a wildlife technician. If you’re looking to get promoted, you can increase your chances by earning a Master’s degree or PhD. This will also likely increase your pay scale.
EXPERIENCE: Experience goes a long way. It’s important to learn all the ins and outs in a biologist career. Whether it’s new environmental legislation or a new type of government regulation. Expanding your knowledge in this profession is what counts the most to get ahead of the curve.
Biologist careers often require a Bachelor’s Degree. The most common degrees are in:
- Environmental studies
- Wildlife management
Is biology a rewarding field to be in?
Your search for a biologist career doesn’t stop here. In a biologist career, your job description can vary significantly.
For example, there is molecular, vegetation, field, avian and research biologists who all specialize in something unique.
The path to a biology career can be difficult. Especially once you graduate from college.
It’s a rewarding discipline because you protect species at risk and the natural environment.
This in itself makes biologists a hero to the environmental stewardship and all living things on the planet.