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Biological Scientist: Job Description, Salary and Outlook

Biological scientists are research scientists who examine how living organisms relate to the environment. They can specialize in any number of plant, animal or environmental studies.

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Biological Scientist Job Description

Based on their education and interests, there are a variety of career specialties that biological scientists can have such as ecology, zoology, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology and marine biology. Biological scientists often divide their time between studying an object in its environment and working in research laboratories. For instance, a marine biologist might spend their non-laboratory time examining sea life on the ocean's floor, while a botanist could be studying plants and collecting samples from a rain forest.

Common job duties may include analyzing plants, researching mammal habitats, studying relationship patterns and testing specimens. Much of any biological scientist's research typically relates to finding a way to promote, cure, treat or improve plant and animal habitats. In the lab, scientists must be able to use tools like microscopes, cell counters or robotic equipment.

Biological Scientist Salary Information

Biological scientists can earn a wide range of salaries, much of which depends on their area of specialization. As of May 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual earnings for zoologists and wildlife biologists as $57,710 (www.bls.gov). That figure increases to $81,480 for biophysicists and biochemists during the same time, while biological scientists brought in a median yearly wage of $72,700, according to the BLS. PayScale.com reported that the median annual salary for biotechnology research scientists was $77,048 as of November 2013.

Biological Scientist Career Outlook

The BLS projected a much faster growth rate for biochemists and biophysicists compared to all other careers from 2010-2020. During this time period, employment opportunities for these professionals are expected to increase 31%, due in part to demand for pharmaceutical developments to assist the aging baby-boomer community. While competition in the field is keen, those with an advanced understanding of biochemistry and how it interacts with other specializations are expected to have the highest job prospects. Zoologists and wildlife biologists are expected to see a slower-than-average 7% employment increase during the 2010-2020 decade, with opportunities influenced by the respective budgets for job-providing state, federal and local government agencies.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics