Career outlook for biologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You'd study living things like plants and animals and the world around them to increase our knowledge and understanding of them, the environment and genetics.

You would:

  • Design and carry out experiments
  • Make observations
  • Write reports and publish scientific papers based on your research

You could work in variety of areas.

You might help to develop new methods to diagnose, monitor and treat illness or disease.

You could help to tackle environmental problems, such as finding ways to clean up polluted rivers so that fish can thrive and to conserve plants and animals in their natural environment.

In agriculture and industry, for example, you might work on ways to

  • Improve productivity of livestock or crops,
  • Prevent contamination of food
  • Safely get rid of waste

You could also specialise in related fields such as:

  • Ecology
  • Marine biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Immunology
  • Molecular biology
  • Microbiology

You would often work in a team with other scientists and technicians, and you may supervise support staff and carry out administration work.

To help your research it woudl be useful to have an understanding of statistics and relevant computer packages. You’d also need to keep up to date with advances in your field.

If you were based at a university or teaching hospital, you would teach and mentor students.

Working conditions


You will usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional evening and weekend shifts


Depending on your specialist area of work, you could be based in a laboratory, a classroom, in industry or on a research vessel at sea. Fieldwork can sometimes take place in challenging conditions.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Working with technology
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Sorting
  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You would need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a subject such as:

  • Biology
  • Biological science
  • Plant biology
  • Microbiology
  • Conservation biology
  • Ecology
  • Marine biology

Many people who do this job also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) (SCQF level 11) or a doctoral degree (SCQF level 12) in a relevant subject.

Some universities offer an integrated master's degree in biology (SCQF Level 11) combining a degree with a master's over five years. 

There are some technician level jobs based in laboratories which don't require a degree. However, competition for any role within this profession is fierce.  

Useful subjects

  • Biology (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Chemistry (required by most courses)
  • English 
  • Science subjects
  • Technologies subjects