A biologist is a scientist who studies life, specifically organisms and their relationship to their environment. Generally speaking, biologists study humans, animals and bacteria to gain a better understanding of how the body works and how external factors influence each organism. Biologists are science-minded individuals with a passion for their jobs.
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Biologists use basic methods of research to gather data to prove or disprove theories about how organisms work and to help find advancement in medicine. They do work with agriculture and develop new fruits and vegetables less susceptible to nuisances and pests, and make other agricultural improvements. Biological scientists can also work to help improve some industrial processes.
There are many types of biologists but the two main subsections in the science are macroscopic and microscopic. Macroscopic biology involves objects that are measurable and visible by the naked eye. Microscopic biology on the other hand requires microscopes to view the objects being studied. Most biologists engage in both types of research at one point or another, so it might be more important to classify biologists by their topic of specialization.
In most cases, a Ph.D is required to conduct independent research which is usually on a specialized topic of biology. Some of the basic research that is conducted involves studying bacteria and other infectious organisms for the purpose of understanding ways to develop improvements in the treatment and prevention of human health problems.
Being a biologist takes a dedication to a particular subject. Many biologists, depending on their choice of field, spend most of their lives studying one thing. Aside from dedication and years of schooling, being a biologist requires some flexibility in life. While it is very possible to work a normal 40 hour work week, it is also common to have to frequently work more than 40 hours. Those involved in the nature fields (zoology, botany, ecology) have to be prepared to spend days, weeks or months living in primitive conditions in order to gather the research required to complete their study.
Most biologists are employed by the government, a university or a private industry laboratory. Many biologists at universities are also professors, so they spend part of their time teaching students research methods and assist with the development of the students' projects and part of the time working on their own projects. Most biological scientists employed in the private industry and by the government are able to focus more on their projects and those assigned by their superiors. Some examples of biologists likely to be working in private industry are zoologists and ecologists, who could be employed by zoos and environmental agencies.
As for the physical workplace, depending on the type of biology, the scientist could spend all of their time in the lab, or most of their time in the field. Botanists, ecologists, and zoologists, for example, spend a lot of their time in the field, studying plants and animals in various climates while often living in primitive conditions. Marine biologists could spend a lot of time on or in the water. They often need to dive and study coral reefs and various other locations that could potentially be dangerous.
In general, most biological scientists do not experience much in the way of dangerous situations. Those studying dangerous or toxic organisms have a series of special precautions they take to prevent contamination and any possibility of spreading the virus or bacteria.
Salaries for biologists vary greatly depending on the particular field chosen, but a study has shown the median salary to be in the range of $60,000. First year biologists can expect to make around $33,000 but if they stick around and gain experience they can bring that figure up fairly quickly. Biologists in the private sector often earn salaries over $80,000 while those employed by the government, a university or college or a nonprofit organization can expect to earn between $60,000 and $70,000. Biologists with over 30 years of experience have the ability to be earning over $100,000.