Biologists observe, analyse and research living organisms, and their relationship to the environment and us. Those in independent research and development typical require a Ph.D. in a related field, though lower degrees are acceptable in lower-level or administrative positions. Advancement may lead to supervisory positions over a team of scientists, consulting to businesses and government agencies, or management.
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Biologists typically work 40 hours a week in well-lit and climate-controlled laboratories. However, they may also spend time in the field, with irregular hours, and in primitive conditions, under the mercy of all kinds of weather in hot and cold climates. Those in academic settings may depend extensively on grant money to support their activities, causing additional pressure to locate sources funding. As of May 2009, their median salary was £36,725 yearly, with a range of £22,932 to £60,541, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This information is the most current from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The biggest employer of biologists is state government, with average wages of £34,638 per year for 6,300 out of the available 17,460 positions, according to the BLS. The second biggest employer, the federal government, is also the highest-paying one, with average wages of £49,198 per year for 4,510 positions. The second-highest paying employers are architectural, engineering and related services, with an average salary of £43,030 per year but with only 160 jobs. This low number makes getting jobs at this workplace relatively difficult.
The state with the highest pay for biologists is Maryland, with average salaries at £59,182 per year for 230 positions, according to the BLS. Still among the top five for pay is California, with lower compensation of £47,554 per year but better opportunities, with 2,360 jobs. As for cities, Bethesda, Maryland, tops the list at an average of £65,364 annually but for only 100 jobs. Washington, D.C., more than doubles the employment figure with 230 positions, but has lower wages at an average of £63,836 per year.
The BLS predicts jobs for biologists to increase by 13 per cent from 2008 to 2018, which is faster than average for all professions. The demand will come primarily from the rapid growth of the biotechnology industry. Concern for the environment will also provide employment, since biologists are needed to determine the impact of industry and pollution on wildlife. Those with bachelor's and master's degrees will find the best opportunities in nonscientist jobs such as marketing, sales, research management and publishing. Otherwise, research positions require a Ph.D. and may be quite competitive.
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