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How to become a Biologist

biologist careers

What does a Biologist do?

Biologists study living things, and can be involved in the following areas of work:

  • developing new medicines and treatments for illness and disease
  • working with doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat patients
  • testing the effectiveness and safety of medicines and other products
  • working in industry to prevent contamination of food or helping with waste disposal
  • advising on agricultural, environmental or conservation issues
  • helping to protect, conserve and develop wildlife habitats
  • studying plants and animals in their natural habitats.
Biologists will specialise in one or two areas which can include: animal biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, ecology, environmental biology, genetics, immunology, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, plant biology and physiology.

Biologists work in a team with other scientists and technicians. They design and conduct experiments, make observations, and write up the work in reports and scientific papers. They will often supervise the work of support staff and carry out administrative work. Biologists working in universities or teaching hospitals will be involved in teaching and supervising students.

What's the working environment like working as a Biologist?

Most biologists work 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional evening and weekend work. Shifts, nights, or on-call work are usual if providing a round-the-clock service to the public, as in the NHS.

Biologists work in laboratories, but may work in the field, sometimes in arduous conditions. Protective clothing is worn to prevent contamination and avoid contact with hazardous substances. Fieldwork may involve travel and periods away from home.

What does it take to become a Biologist?

To be a biologist, you should:

  • have practical scientific skills and theoretical knowledge
  • have an enquiring mind and be able to think clearly and logically
  • be good at problem solving, with a methodical approach to your work
  • be able to work accurately and pay great attention to detail when working in the laboratory
  • be able to work with, and lead, a team of professionals
  • have excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • be able to keep up with advances in your field, by reading relevant scientific literature
  • understand statistics and relevant computer packages
  • be willing to undertake any fieldwork when required.

Biologist Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Biologist that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Institute of Biology
9 Red Lion Court
Tel: 020 7936 5900

Facts and Stats:

  • Dutch researchers have genetically altered plants so that bees produce foreign proteins in their nectar. They hope that the bees will create honey containing a variety of drugs or vaccines.

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  • A commercial satellite capable of distinguishing objects the size of a tea tray will soon be launched from the United States. The Ikonos-1 is the most powerful commercial imaging satellite yet built. Its parabolic lens will be able to resolve objects 80cm (32in) in length anywhere on Earth.