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Biological scientists salary & career outlook

Biological science is a large field, and there are many different disciplines and opportunities within it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists four different categories within the biological sciences, which include: wildlife biologists, biochemists and biophysicists, microbiologists and others. Wildlife biologists study animals and the impact humans have on them. Biochemists and biophysicists study the biological processes, such as cell development and growth, as well as the chemical and physical principles of living things. And microbiologists study microorganisms, to understand how they grow, live and interact with their environments.

The field of biology contributes wonderfully to medicine and human understanding, so becoming a biological scientist can prove to be an excellent career choice for someone interested in the scientific aspects of the world around us.

Biological scientists' salaries

The BLS has salary data for all four categories of biological scientists, as of May 2013. The mean annual wage for these careers is:

  • Biochemists and biophysicists: $91,640
  • Microbiologists: $75,230
  • Wildlife biologists and zoologists: $62,610
  • All other biological scientists: $75,160

The data also include high and low salaries for each segment, estimating what scientists at the 10th and 90th percentile of the income spectrum make.

  • Biochemists and biophysicists: $42,660 (10th percentile) and $147,780 (90th)
  • Microbiologists: $38,820 (10th) and $121,060 (90th)
  • Wildlife biologists and zoologists: $37,150 (10th) and $95,460 (90th)
  • All other biological scientists: $39,440 (10th) and $110,850 (90th)

Pay varies across industries for biological scientists, as it does for many professions. According to the BLS, the top-paying industries in America for the broadest category of all other biological scientists as of May 2013 were:

  • Medical equipment and supplies manufacturing ($102,430 annual mean wage)
  • Offices of physicians ($99,740 annual mean wage)
  • Management, scientific and technical consulting services ($96,910 annual mean wage)

Location also impacts the pay of many employees. According to the BLS, the top-paying states in America as of May 2013 for biological scientists were:

  • Washington, D.C. ($105,530 annual mean wage)
  • Maryland ($93,780 annual mean wage)
  • Virginia ($91,030 annual mean wage)

The specific city you live in as a biological scientist can also affect how much you make. According to the BLS, the top-paying metropolitan areas in America for biological scientists as of May 2013 were:

  • Lake County-Kenosha, IL-WI Metropolitan Division ($111,580)
  • Framingham, MA NECTA Division ($109,770 annual mean wage)
  • Peoria, IL ($106,850 annual mean wage)

So as you can see, you may definitely be able to make a living as a biological scientist. But industry and location do make a difference so choose wisely.

Job outlook for biological scientists

The career outlook depends on which kind of biological scientist you are. According to the BLS, employment of wildlife biologists and zoologists is projected to grow by 5 percent between 2012 and 2022, which comes out to about 1,000 new jobs. Employment of microbiologists is projected to grow by 7 percent between 2012 and 2022, which comes out to 1,400 new jobs. And employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected to grow by 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average for all occupations nationally.

Some geographical areas of the U.S are projected to have better job growth for biological scientists than others, according to aggregated state data. The three states that are expected to have the best career growth for biochemists and biophysicists through 2020 are:

  • Florida: 53.6%
  • Utah: 53.2%
  • Arizona: 48.3%

For all other biological science careers, the three states that are projected to have the best job growth through 2020 are:

  • Maryland: 26.8%
  • Texas: 24.6%
  • Virginia: 21.7%

According to the BLS, the metropolitan areas in America with the highest employment levels of biological scientists as of May 2013 were:

  • Bethesda-Rockville-Frederick, MD Metropolitan Division
  • San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA
  • Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville, CA

Wherever you go and whichever kind of biological scientist you become, you're joining a growing field that's making important contributions to medicine and the world at large.

Sources:

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Biochemists and Biophysicists, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191021.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Biological Scientists, All Other, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191029.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Microbiologists, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191022.htm

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics,
http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191023.htm

Biochemists and Biophysicists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biochemists-and-biophysicists.htm#tab-1

Microbiologists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/microbiologists.htm#tab-1

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists, "Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Jan. 8, 2014,
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/zoologists-and-wildlife-biologists.htm#tab-1

Long-Term Data for Biochemists & Biophysicists, Biological Scientists, Projections Central,
http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm