While many life science majors begin postgraduate study immediately after earning their bachelor’s degree, for those who don’t (around 60%), there are jobs available. During the four years of studying towards a bachelor’s degree in one of the sciences, you have developed many skills that are appreciated by employers.
- Collaborate with others on team projects
- Conducting laboratory and field studies
- Accurately collect data
- Think analytically and solve complex problems
- Data analysis
- Understand scientific methodology
- Presentation of oral and written reports
The skills and knowledge gained in life sciences degree programs lead to jobs in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government regulators, universities, and schools. Positions could be in clinical trials, laboratory research, manufacturing, drug safety, quality assurance or quality control. There are also careers in sales, marketing and education. Many positions require postgraduate degrees, but there are jobs for those with a bachelor’s degree and even some for those with only associate’s degrees.
Product research and development
Job seekers with a bachelor’s degree qualify for many entry-level positions in the research and development departments of pharmaceutical companies. These positions could be in drug manufacturing, analysis, or clinical trial operations.
Laboratory or biology technician
For candidates seeking laboratory employment, an entry-level position as a laboratory technician involves assisting biologists and medical scientists with collecting and preparing samples for analysis. Technicians can conduct basic experiments themselves, guided by senior staff. Qualifications vary and some companies even hire people with only associate’s degrees in a scientific field. However, most companies require a bachelor’s degree in science. Companies will train the right candidate for the specific tasks. Employers include government agencies such as the USDA, nonprofit research corporations, and private research and pharmaceutical companies. According to salary.com, the average annual salary for a biological laboratory technician in the United States is between $44,443 annually.
Clinical Research Assistant or Associate
A job as a clinical research assistant or clinical research associate (CRA) usually only requires a bachelor’s degree. The research study or clinical trials could involve new drugs or medical devices. Responsibilities may include preparing the laboratory, processing volunteers or study participants, collecting biological samples or gathering research information, and organizing the resulting data for a research scientist. According to Salary.com, an assistant can earn between $56,600 and $76,000while an associate is often in a higher level position and can earn a bit more.
There are several areas where the lab, research, or even administrative assistant can lead to higher-level positions through on-the-job learning. Employers are looking for candidates with scientific knowledge and training.
Occupational health and safety specialist
Occupational health and safety specialists ensure that workplaces and work procedures are safe and do not endanger the health of employees. Although you can enter this field as an administrative assistant or trainee, you learn the ropes and can progress to a specialist position. Most employers consider a science background acceptable for the position. Specialists can earn around $70,000.
This is another field you can enter with a bachelor’s degree in biology. You can start as a laboratory or research assistant, helping to analyze and test food for safety and nutritional content. Food scientists perform a variety of functions, depending on their specific roles. For example, you can scan food for contaminants, develop safer food packaging, inspect food preparation areas for safety, or research ways to make food viable longer. Food scientists can earn around $63,000.
As an environmental scientist, you can use your degree in biology or environmental science to guide businesses, government agencies, and the public on ecological risks. You will collect data and analyze it to learn more about the environment. In addition, you will contribute to the development of plans to reduce environmental damage and ensure that environmental regulations are properly complied with. According to Salary.com, an environmental specialist earns on average around $69,800.
Forensic Science Technician
While people who earn forensic science degrees have the specific training needed to work in law enforcement, a life science degree may be sufficient for some employers if the field interests you. Forensic science technicians help police solve crimes by collecting and analyzing evidence at crime scenes. Average Earnings $60,200.
Marketing and Sales Jobs
These jobs focus on marketing, promoting, and selling the products produced by a pharmaceutical company. The marketing, advertising and sale of pharmaceutical products must comply with all industry rules and government regulations.
Sales representatives visit doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals to educate them about new drugs and treatments to increase company sales. Income is often based on commission or base salary plus commission. While the average salary for a representative is around $68,000according to Salary.com, many are making over $100,000 after a few years.
Pharmaceutical Marketing Assistants
Marketing assistants at pharmaceutical companies or the advertising agencies that represent them help marketing coordinators or executives develop marketing materials for products while adhering to government rules and regulations. Writing and graphic design skills, in addition to a background in life sciences, may be required. While an assistant’s job is primarily administrative, companies marketing medical devices and pharmaceuticals prefer to hire employees with life science degrees to progress into a marketing coordinator or marketing manager position. The work includes research, data analysis and brand monitoring. An average starting salary nationwide is around $45,000. Marketing managers earn $70,000 and above.