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Become A Research Biologist

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Working As A Research Biologist

  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Processing Information
  • $96,410

    Average Salary

What Does A Research Biologist Do

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

Duties

Biological technicians typically do the following:

  • Set up, maintain, and clean laboratory instruments and equipment, such as microscopes, scales, and test tubes
  • Gather and prepare biological samples, such as blood, food, and bacteria cultures, for laboratory analysis
  • Conduct biological tests and experiments 
  • Document their work, including procedures, observations, and results
  • Analyze experimental data and interpret results
  • Write reports that summarize their findings

Most biological technicians work on teams. Biological technicians typically are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists or other scientists who direct and evaluate their work. Biological technicians use traditional laboratory instruments, advanced robotics, and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data. Some biological technicians collect samples in the field, so they may need certain skills, such as the ability to hike long distances over sometimes rugged terrain to collect water samples.

Biological technicians work in many research areas. They may assist medical researchers by helping to develop new medicines and treatments used to prevent, treat, or cure diseases.

Biological technicians working in a microbiological context, sometimes referred to as laboratory assistants, typically study living microbes and perform techniques specific to microbiology, such as growing cultures in petri dishes or staining specimens to aid in their identification.

Technicians working in biotechnology apply the knowledge and techniques they have gained from basic research to product development.  

Biological technicians also may work in private industry and assist in the study of a wide range of topics concerning mining and industrial production. They may test samples in environmental impact studies, or monitor production processes to help ensure that products are not contaminated.

Biological technicians working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture or other government agencies may perform biological testing to support agricultural research and wildlife and resource management goals.

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How To Become A Research Biologist

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. It is important for prospective biological technicians to gain laboratory experience while they are in school.

Education

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. Most colleges and universities offer bachelor’s degree programs in the biological sciences.

Biological science programs usually include courses in general biology, as well as in specific subfields such as ecology, microbiology, and physiology. In addition to taking courses in biology, students must study chemistry, mathematics, and physics. Computer science courses are helpful for learning how to model and simulate biological processes and for learning how to operate some laboratory equipment. 

Laboratory experience is important for prospective biological technicians, so students should take biology courses that emphasize laboratory work.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Biological technicians need to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision.

Communication skills. Biological technicians must understand and follow the instructions of their managing scientists. They also need to be able to communicate their processes and findings clearly in written reports.

Critical-thinking skills. Biological technicians draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment.

Observational skills. Biological technicians must constantly monitor their experiments. They need to keep a complete, accurate record of their work, including the conditions under which the experiment was carried out, the procedures they followed, and the results they obtained.

Technical skills. Biological technicians need to set up and operate sophisticated equipment and instruments. They also may need to adjust equipment to ensure that experiments are conducted properly.

Other Experience

Prospective biological technicians should have laboratory experience. In addition to coursework, students may gain laboratory experience during summer internships with prospective employers, such as pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers, or in university laboratories.

Advancement

Biological technicians may advance to scientist positions, such as microbiologist, after a few years of experience working as a technician or after earning a master’s degree or Ph.D. Gaining more experience and higher levels of education often allows biological technicians to move into positions such as natural sciences managers or postsecondary teachers.

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Research Biologist jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Research Biologist 4.0 years
Research Scientist 3.8 years
Senior Biologist 3.5 years
Staff Biologist 3.0 years
Research Associate 2.6 years
Cell Biologist 2.5 years
Biologist 2.5 years
Research Fellow 2.3 years
Research Assistant 1.7 years
Research Trainee 0.9 years
Research Volunteer 0.9 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 5.9%
Fellow 5.7%
Biologist 4.4%
Scientist 3.3%
Technician 2.6%
Assistant 2.6%
Instructor 2.2%
Top Employers After
Scientist 9.0%
Consultant 5.4%
Biologist 4.3%
Manager 3.6%
Internship 2.5%

Research Biologist Demographics

Gender

Female

48.9%

Male

43.2%

Unknown

8.0%
Ethnicity

White

72.8%

Asian

16.9%

Hispanic or Latino

7.5%

Unknown

2.0%

Black or African American

0.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0%

French

12.0%

Chinese

8.0%

Cantonese

8.0%

Mandarin

8.0%

Swedish

4.0%

Sami

4.0%

Hakka

4.0%

German

4.0%

Thai

4.0%

Italian

4.0%
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Research Biologist Education

Schools

Johns Hopkins University

13.2%

University of South Florida

5.3%

Temple University

5.3%

University of Illinois at Chicago

5.3%

Pennsylvania State University

5.3%

University of Missouri - Columbia

5.3%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

5.3%

Texas A&M University

5.3%

Michigan State University

5.3%

University of Denver

5.3%

University of Connecticut

3.9%

University of Florida

3.9%

University of Kentucky

3.9%

University of California - San Diego

3.9%

Delaware Valley University

3.9%

Southern Connecticut State University

3.9%

Harvard University

3.9%

Villanova University

3.9%

University of Montana

3.9%

Vanderbilt University

3.9%
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Majors

Biology

31.7%

Biochemistry, Biophysics, Molecular Biology

11.7%

Ecology, Population Biology, And Epidemiology

5.7%

Microbiology

4.8%

Cell Biology And Anatomical Science

4.8%

Pharmacy

4.4%

Environmental Science

4.4%

Chemistry

4.1%

Zoology

3.8%

Pharmacology

2.9%

Physiology And Anatomy

2.9%

Nursing

2.9%

Animal Science

2.5%

Biotechnology

2.5%

Medical Technician

1.9%

Health Care Administration

1.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.9%

Wildlife Management

1.9%

Finance

1.6%

Plant Sciences

1.6%
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Degrees

Masters

36.0%

Bachelors

25.2%

Doctorate

22.6%

Other

8.7%

Certificate

5.4%

Associate

1.6%

License

0.2%

Diploma

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Research Biologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Aug 18, 2010 $96,867 -
$125,926
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Aug 23, 2010 $96,867 -
$125,926
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Aug 12, 2010 $96,867 -
$125,926
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Aug 02, 2010 $96,867 -
$125,926
Senior Research Biologist Merck & Co., Inc. Boston, MA Sep 15, 2010 $96,678 -
$122,020
Field Research Biologist-Seeds & Traits R&D Agrigenetics D/B/A Mycogen Corporation, A Subsidiary of The Dow Chemic HI Aug 29, 2016 $94,608 -
$141,926
Research Biologist North Slope Borough, Dept of Wildlife Management Barrow, AK Jan 01, 2011 $91,316
Research Biologist/Wildlife Veterinarian North Slope Borough, Department of Wildlife Manage Barrow, AK May 04, 2013 $88,826
Research Biologist/Wildlife Veterinarian North Slope Borough, Dept of Wildlife Management Barrow, AK Oct 01, 2011 $88,826
Research Biologist/Wildlife Veterinarian North Slope Borough, Dept of Wildlife Management Barrow, AK Aug 01, 2011 $88,826
Researcher/Biologist Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/DHHS Atlanta, GA Oct 11, 2009 $86,505
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Jun 21, 2010 $81,460 -
$105,897
Senior Research Biologist Merck & Co., Inc. Point, PA Aug 23, 2010 $81,037 -
$119,628
Postodoctoral Researcher/Biologist Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research Cambridge, MA Nov 01, 2010 $77,000
Field Research Biologist Agrigenetics D/B/A Mycogen Corporation, A Subsidia Kaumakani, HI Aug 08, 2014 $75,026 -
$104,916
Senior Research Biologist Merck & Co., Inc. Boston, MA Sep 01, 2010 $74,006 -
$119,628
Research Biologist U. S. Geological Survey Menlo Park, CA Jun 07, 2010 $71,237 -
$96,867
Biologist R&D Dow Agrosciences LLC Indianapolis, IN Aug 28, 2015 $70,699 -
$104,916
Researcg Molecualr Biologist U.S. Department of Agriculture Albany, CA Aug 22, 2016 $70,333 -
$91,433
Assistant Research Biologist University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CA Sep 01, 2011 $69,000
Assistant Research Biologist University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CA Jul 28, 2013 $63,600
Research Biologist USDA, Agricultural Research Service Boston, MA Oct 20, 2013 $62,758
Research Biologist USDA, Agricultural Research Service Boston, MA Nov 17, 2013 $62,758
Assistant Research Biologist University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Jun 01, 2010 $61,700
Assistant Research Biologist University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CA Dec 14, 2010 $61,700
Assistant Research Biologist University of California, San Francisco San Francisco, CA Dec 14, 2011 $61,700
Wildlife & Research Biologist Hamer Environmental, L.P. Hoquiam, WA Mar 01, 2015 $60,112

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Top Skills for A Research Biologist

LaboratoryEquipmentCellLinesProceduresSafetyMolecularBiologyRt-PcrProteinElisaResearchProjectsGLPDiseaseMammalianCellCultureDiscoveryToxicologyDna/RnaDataCollectionDataAnalysisMerckRegulatoryEPA

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Top Research Biologist Skills

  1. Laboratory Equipment
  2. Cell Lines
  3. Procedures
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform general maintenance on laboratory equipment and troubleshoot where necessary.
  • Perform cell culture on cancer cell lines used for studies.
  • Developed and implemented Standard Operating Procedures, and chaired the Regulatory department's SOP committee.
  • Received award for outstanding efforts and achieving great financial savings for Safety Assessment.
  • Carried out molecular biology experiments using proteins and nucleic acids from human tissue and cultured cells.

Top Research Biologist Employers

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Research Biologist Videos

CAREERS IN BIOLOGY SCIENCE – B.Sc,M.Sc,Science technician, Research,Job Opportunities,Salary Package

Beginning the Journey: Research Biology

Non-Traditional Careers for Science Majors | Dr. Dwight Randle | TEDxMountainViewCollege

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