Applied Biology Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Applied biology focuses on solving specific real world problems and creating biological products. Applied biology research is set apart from basic biology research in that it focuses on research and product development. Most applied biology careers are with government agencies or private industries.

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Job Options

The two prominent career options in the field of applied biology are as technicians and research scientists. Variation in the field comes in the form of trying to develop specific products or solving certain problems. While some applied biology professionals work in labs to manufacture pharmaceuticals, others create better methods for growing food and maintaining natural resources.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of biological technicians is expected to increase by 10% between 2012 and 2022, which is about the same as the average rate for all occupations within the United States. Biological technicians are listed as earning a median salary of $40,710 per year, as of May 2013. The BLS reports that the employment of food scientists is expected to increase by 9% from 2012 to 2022 as well. Their website also lists the median annual income of food scientists as $59,630 (www.bls.gov).

Job Descriptions

Food scientists develop foods with better nutritional value or taste, and animal researchers improve livestock and the environmental impact it creates. Horticulturalists focus their work on plant life for agriculture, environmental balance and commercial landscaping. Food supply, quality and environmental impact are improved by agricultural researchers. Protecting plants from environmental and human elements is also a focus for many applied biology scientists.

Pharmaceutical researchers develop treatments and cures for illness and disease. Bioengineers create products ranging from prosthetic limbs to biofuels. Other career possibilities may involve civil and environmental engineering, rural development and environmental toxicology.

In all of these fields, researchers formulate, direct and conduct the research, while technicians perform routine procedures and tests, maintain equipment and manage supplies.

Job Requirements

Technician educational requirements vary by field, but almost always require post-secondary education. This could be an associate's or bachelor's degree program related to the desired career field.

The following are some degree programs available for prospective technicians:

  • Crop science
  • Agricultural science
  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering

Research and scientist positions require at least a master's degree and usually a doctoral degree in the appropriate specialization. Several years in a post-doctoral position are often needed for high-level research positions. Applied biology researchers must follow the projects set by their employers and report to them regularly. They must also consider business ramifications when developing commercial products.

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