What can I do with a biology degree?

Biology graduates are well placed to succeed in any job where data handling or research skills are important. These jobs would not necessarily have to be restricted to science-based employers.

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There are plenty of careers available to biology students, but since there isn’t a single obvious path, sometimes it can be problematic deciding what to do after graduating.

This guide should help you think about the skills you have, the jobs they can be applied to, and the options available.

Skills for your CV

Specific skills you will have gained include:

  • time and self-management
  • data management, analysis and interpretation
  • concise and accurate writing and communication skills
  • research skills
  • organisational skills
  • presentation skills
  • ability to identify and predict trends and patterns
  • ability to interpret and evaluate events, information, and ideas
  • computer literacy

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Your career options include the following roles and specialisms:

What do biology graduates go on to do?

Here’s what biology graduates who finished their degrees in 2018 were doing around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment 48
Part-time employment in the UK 11
Voluntary or unpaid work 3
Working and studying 12
Further study 14
Unemployed 5

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Key areas of employment for fresh biology graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2018 biology graduates around fifteen months after graduating, according to the graduate outcomes statistics reported by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) in 2020.

Areas of employment Percentage
Human health and social work 26
Education 20
Professional, scientific and technical 9
Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles 9
Accommodation and food service 6

Source: HESA's higher education graduate outcomes statistics, 2020

Which careers attract biology students?

Charity and not-for-profit was by far the most popular career choice for students of biological sciences identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research business owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Over a third (39.5%) of students of biological sciences, a group of degree subjects that includes biology, who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for students of biological sciences were as follows:

Career Percentage
Charity and not-for-profit 39.5% expressed an interest
Scientific research and development 39.4
Consumer goods – manufacturing and marketing 26.4
Energy and utilities 11
Engineering, design and manufacture 8.7

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can biological sciences graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided TARGETjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with biology degrees

Having a biology degree doesn’t even need to restrict you to these careers. All of these celebrities studied biology:

  • David Attenborough – graduated with a natural sciences degree in 1947, and went on to become famous for presenting wildlife documentaries.
  • Lisa Kudrow – earned a degree in psychobiology before she rose to fame as Phoebe in Friends.
  • Mayim Bialik – plays neurobiologist Amy in The Big Bang Theory, but also has a PhD in neuroscience in real life.

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