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Plumbers and Pipe Fitters - Overview


Programs in biological sciences, general teach people about living things and their life processes. Students learn about the general function, structure, and evolution of organisms. They learn about living things and their surroundings.

In every opening sequence of the TV cartoon "The Simpsons," we see Homer juggle nuclear material without a care. We know how deadly radiation really is. Yet reactor operators have discovered bacteria growing in the water that bathes the reactor core. Research has shown that radiation is no problem for these one-celled creatures. Other bacteria grow in scalding hot springs. Some live at the bottom of the ocean, deriving energy from hot water welling up from Earth's crust.

The living world is full of wonders like these, large and small, and you learn about them when you study biology. A good place to start is a bachelor's degree program in biology, which normally takes four years of full-time study beyond high school. A large number of colleges offer this degree program.

Some of what you study is on a large scale. For example, as part of your study of ecology, you learn about how nutrients flow up the food chain from one organism to another. When you study genetics, you look at how the genetic makeup of a whole population is maintained or changes.

But to understand living things, you also need to look at their tiniest components. You study the parts of cells and the chemistry of DNA and other substances that are central to the processes we call life. Thus you must also study chemistry. Understanding chemistry in turn depends on studying physics, so this is also part of the curriculum. The result is that you get a really good background in laboratory science. You learn more than a collection of facts about living things; you learn how to do scientific research by doing experiments and testing theories.

This background can be good preparation for medical, dental, or veterinary school. It may lead you to advanced study of a specialized branch of biology. For example, you may go on to a graduate degree in ecology or physiology. Or, you may want to use your skills in the advanced study of agriculture, seeking a graduate degree in animal science or horticulture. You may be interested in a graduate degree in a field where biology intersects with social concerns, such as public health. Or, you may be able to enter the work force directly. For example, you might work in sales in the pharmaceutical industry.

In general, graduate study in biology means that you focus on a particular area of biology. For example, you may focus on cell biology or you might focus on animal biology. Some schools do offer a general graduate program in biology, but this isn't as common.

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