Biologists go by a lot of different names on the job market: "cell biologist," "molecular biologist," "biologist," "senior scientist" and more. Despite these many names, the essential work remains the same: utilizing the latest lab tools and techniques to make new discoveries and scientific breakthroughs. What does that look like in everyday practice?
Biologist jobs generally include the following duties:
- recording, analyzing and interpreting biological data and findings
- testing samples and other materials
- collaborating daily with lab colleagues to develop and optimize equipment, technology, processes and procedures in support of key goals
- analyzing cell signaling
- conducting research in cell and molecular biology
- working closely with cross-functional colleagues to help advance research and development (R&D) timelines and support clinical trials
- preparing and delivering technical reports
- contributing to publications
- staying up to date on the latest research and techniques in microbiology as well as cell and molecular biology
- working with regulatory affairs teams
- adhering at all times to local, state, federal and other regulatory requirements
- studying plant and animal life (specific to wildlife biologists)
how do you become a biologist?
The answer, in a single word, is "education." Indeed, this is one role where there are relatively high barriers to entry. As you can see below, the core requirements for landing a biologist job involve some pretty extensive educational experience, including an advanced degree:
- Ph.D. or doctoral degree in molecular or cellular biology
- (not always required)
- master’s degree in molecular or cellular biology
- bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences
- one or more years of previous experience in a clinical laboratory setting
what are the key skills of a biologist?
Biologists are highly trained lab science experts — but that doesn’t mean the only thing that counts, in the minds of employers, is technical knowledge. Soft skills matter a great deal as well. So if you want to stand out as a candidate, do your best to highlight the following on your resume:
- attention to detail
- cross-functional collaboration
- design thinking
- emotional intelligence (EQ)
- organization and time management
- problem solving
- strategic planning
- strategic thinking
- written, verbal and presentation skills
Think you can convince a prospective employer you've got all of these traits, plus the core technical background? If so, the job should be all yours.
what are salaries like for biologist jobs?
Looking at the latest data, salaries for biologist jobs can be grouped into three tiers — low, middle and high — depending on factors like location, day-to-day responsibilities and experience.
Those tiers are as follows:
This is probably a good time to offer a quick recap of everything we’ve covered so far:
- biologist job description
- background, training, experience and other requirements for biologist jobs
- key skills
- and much, much more!