Biologists are scientists who study the natural world and all the living things in it, from the largest mammals down to our very own microscopic DNA.
They try to understand how animals and organisms work (including us humans), how we evolved and the things that can make us sick or improve our health. Biologists use this knowledge to do things like try to stop the spread of disease, track down natural resources, improve public health, animal care and conservation and work out the true impacts of things like pollution.
Because biologists deal with the natural world, their jobs can take them anywhere, from labs to zoos to ocean liners in the arctic and fieldwork in the Amazon jungle.
As with the other sciences, biology helps you to build up research, problem solving, organisation and analytical skills.
If you study biology, you will likely find yourself working on group projects, which will help you build your teamwork and communication skills too.
Biology is a key subject for lots of STEM careers, particularly in healthcare, medicine and jobs involving plants or animals. The list is pretty long and includes: nursing, dentistry, forensic science, psychology, physiotherapy, botany, environmental science, zoology, geology, oceanography, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, genetics and research.
Rachel Lambert-Forsyth, director of education and training at the Society of Biology, says: “biology opens up exciting career possibilities. From conservation to cancer research, biologists are tackling important 21st century challenges, and we need skilled young people to be part of this.
“It is also important to remember that biology is excellent preparation for non-scientific careers, thanks to the skills it provides – everything from analytical thinking to writing reports.”
Biology will support your study of other sciences and maths as well as subjects like psychology and geography. But study it with a language or an essay subject like English at A-level and you might have even more choices for your career.
Biology is part of that gang of four subjects, which also includes maths, physics and chemistry. You’ll often need at least two of these four subjects to get onto lots of different science based courses, so it’s a useful all-round choice.
You’ll specifically need biology for courses in medicine, biology (yes indeed...), biomedical sciences, dentistry, dietetics (studies in food and nutrition), physiotherapy, orthopics (treating eye disorders) and veterinary science.
Biology is usually required or recommended for degrees in: biochemistry, chemical engineering, chemistry, geology, environmental science, materials science, nursing and midwifery, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, sports science, psychology and speech therapy.
It is also useful for: anthropology, psychology, civil engineering, geography, and teaching.
You may need A-level or BTEC in Biology to take on a higher apprenticeship in healthcare or biological sciences – e.g. researching diseases or biochemistry.
GCSE Biology might also come in useful for intermediate or advanced apprenticeships in animal care, horticulture, veterinary nursing or environmental conservation careers.
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