Marine biologists study salt water organisms, and limnologists study fresh water organisms. Much of the work of marine biology centers on molecular biology, the study of the biochemical processes that take place inside living cells. Marine biologists sometimes are mistakenly called oceanographers, but oceanography is the study of the physical characteristics of oceans and the ocean floor.
Hours: Biological scientists typically work regular hours. While the 40-hour workweek is common, longer hours are not uncommon. Researchers may be required to work odd hours in laboratories or other locations (especially while in the field), depending on the nature of their research.
Opportunities: Biological scientists can expect to face competition for jobs. After a recent period of rapid expansion in research funding, moderate growth in research grants should drive average employment growth over the next decade. About 39 percent of all biological scientists were employed by Federal, State, and local governments. Federal biological scientists worked mainly for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Defense and for the National Institutes of Health. Most of the rest worked in scientific research and testing laboratories, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry, or colleges and universities.
Pay: Median annual earnings of biochemists and biophysicists were $76,320 in 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $53,390 and $100,060. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $40,820, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $129,510. Median annual earnings of biochemists and biophysicists employed in scientific research and development services were $79,990 in 2006.
Training: Most biological scientists need a Ph.D. degree in biology or one of its subfields to work in research or development positions. A period of postdoctoral work in the laboratory of a senior researcher has become common for biological scientists who intend to conduct research or teach at the university level.
Citation: Suggested citation: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition , Biological Scientists, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos047.htm (visited July 22, 2009 ).
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