Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics > Biochemists > Preparation

Biochemists - Preparation

To work as a biologist, you typically need to:

  • have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
  • have at least a bachelor's degree in a biological science.

Education after high school

With a bachelor's degree in biology you can be a research assistant. You usually need a master's degree in biology for jobs in applied research. In biology, you study life science, chemistry, math, and computer science. You also learn to work in a lab and use computerized equipment.

You must have a doctoral degree (PhD) to lead research projects or teach at a college or university. When working on your doctoral degree you focus on an area of biology, such as microbiology or botany.

Many colleges and universities have bachelor's degree programs in biology. Fewer have doctoral and master's programs.

On-the-job training

Biologists may spend six months to a year doing on-the-job training. You learn about equipment, procedures, and goals of the lab you are working in.

Work experience

After completing a doctoral degree, some biologists work as postdoctoral fellows (postdocs). These university positions last for several years. Postdocs get experience working with other biologists. This research can lead to a teaching or research job at a university.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for some types of life scientists. However, it does not provide the training to become a biologist.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.