Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

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texasdiver
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Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:53 pm

I have a daughter who is interested in a wide range of subjects from graphic art and animation to biology. But she doesn't have a particular focus at this point. She is a HS junior so we are in the middle of college visits and soon deciding on majors as some schools want the major specified as part of the application.

I'm a biology teacher and somewhat in tune with the career prospects (or lack of them) for environmental and field biologists as I worked as a marine fisheries biologist for a decade before my wife's career relocated us and I got into teaching instead. But I'm not really that in tune with current career trends in the more STEM and applied life science fields. In her AP class last year she found genetics and biochemistry to be most interesting. The ecology stuff not so much.

What do you all think are some of the most promising life science fields for a young student just entering college?

bioengineering?
genetics?
biochemistry?
microbiology?

Note: She is NOT at all interested in a career in medicine or health care. Her mother is a doctor and she doesn't want to go there at all. I could see her happily working in a lab behind a computer. Other than perhaps bioengineering, I'm assuming that most any other natural science field is going to be a path to graduate study and not a terminal bachelor's degree.

What are the most promising life science career paths these days that don't involve clinical medicine?

btenny
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by btenny » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:44 pm

My nephews daughter just got a BS in bio-mechanical engineering. She is talking to lots of labs and working on a MS degree. Just a option.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:47 pm

btenny wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:44 pm
My nephews daughter just got a BS in bio-mechanical engineering. She is talking to lots of labs and working on a MS degree. Just a option.
My impression is that bio-mechanical engineering is more mechanical than bio (artificial limbs, artificial hearts, etc.) But I'll suggest it. Normally at most schools you have to direct-apply into the bio-engineering programs from the start rather than making it your major at some point down the road. Knowing my daughter she will probably be more interested in taking bio classes like genetics, biochemistry, etc. rather than mechanical engineering stuff.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by amc131 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:51 pm

I was most interested in the same topics and decided on becoming a physician

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T-Wrench
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by T-Wrench » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:37 pm

As a former biologist, I would say that she'd be better off if her degree includes the word 'engineering' somewhere. Chemical engineering with some extra life science/biochemistry classes would likely be very beneficial and open lots of doors; it might still be life science-y enough for her tastes.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Big Dog » Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:56 pm

Bio majors are a dime-a-dozen as many grads are unsuccessful premeds. Thus, a job as a lab rat is likely. I always like biochem, but she has plenty of time to choose. But note, not sure that a 'life science' career path that excludes health care is all that readily available.

Don't be concerned about putting an intended major on the college app as AdComs know that many/most? students change their majors. That being said, AdComs are looking for consistency of interests and ECs, i.e., a math major wannabe better not have a poor SAT math score.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:56 pm
Bio majors are a dime-a-dozen as many grads are unsuccessful premeds. Thus, a job as a lab rat is likely. I always like biochem, but she has plenty of time to choose. But note, not sure that a 'life science' career path that excludes health care is all that readily available.

Don't be concerned about putting an intended major on the college app as AdComs know that many/most? students change their majors. That being said, AdComs are looking for consistency of interests and ECs, i.e., a math major wannabe better not have a poor SAT math score.
I don't know that she has completely soured on any medical career. But she sees the stress and burnout that my wife experiences as a primary care physician, and all the patients who wear her out. So it she was going to do medicine it would probably be something more like radiology where you aren't in clinic all day dealing with patients.

Some majors are "direct admit" especially in popular fields like engineering and business. So you indeed have to designate your major on your college application which means you have to decide by the fall of your senior year of HS. That is 6 months away.

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by elvisimprsntr » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:13 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:53 pm
Suggested Reading: Quit Like a Millionaire, Kristy Shen. Quick and inspiring read.

Chapter 4: Don't Follow Your Passion (Yet) - Chapter on the economic return of various types of careers, or Pay-over-Tuition (POT) score.
Following your passion is a bad way to pick a career.
Instead, you should pick a career based on its Pay-over-Tuition (POT) score.
POT score = Median Salary Above Minimum Wage / Total Cost of Degree.
A high number means money spent on tuition will have a greater effect on your income.

quantAndHold
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by quantAndHold » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:29 pm

There’s bioinformatics, a field in which someone with programming experience and a PhD in a life science field can make about 70% of what the person with a BS in computer science who sits at the next desk will make for the same basic job.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Student2 » Mon Feb 10, 2020 10:47 pm

+1 to the bioinformatics suggestion, also anything related to "big data": combining biology with some quantitative training, i.e., statistics, esp. biostats, is at the very least flexible and likely to provide more than average earnings. Alternatively, I would also highly recommend epidemiology, a field with public health relatedness but no "patients" (unless you count a cohort of patients) but that is usually not available as an undergraduate degree. Then there is also pharmacoepidemiology which often (easily) translates to a job working for a pharmaceutical company, where one would earn at minimum a living wage in almost any city in the country and which is also reasonably mobile (US and outside of US) depending on interests. (That is also not available as an undergraduate degree.)
These occupations all have biostats as underpinnings so I would recommend that, too. Biostatisticians do fairly well in many environments too since they are often in demand for many different projects, even when dollars are tight. I've seen them in academia contributing a bit here and there, on this person and that person's grant until they have more than enough support for their salary. I've also seen them at various levels in industry, depending on their level of training, with the most specialized receiving very reasonable salaries, suitable for a living wage in almost any city in the country (same as pharmacoepidemiolngists).
With the amount of data currently available and the demand for workers who are comfortable with either analyzing it or interpreting analyses, I think a degree in (bio)statistics would be quite handy. It's also applicable to many future pursuits, whether she ultimately lands in medicine or epidemiology or engineering or ?

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by cw35 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:15 am

If she hasn’t completely write off healthcare, and is interested in laboratory work, she should check out Medical Laboratory Science. Medical Laboratory Scientists analyze patient samples in hematology, chemistry, microbiology, transfusion/blood bank, immunology, molecular biology, and more! It’s a fascinating field, and we need people desperately! There are tons of jobs! It requires a lot of problem solving, troubleshooting, and analytical thinking. We do critical work for patients, but don’t work with them directly. So much of the data physicians use to diagnose and treat their patients comes from the laboratory—medicine would be impossible without us.

It requires a specific degree program and certification. Some states require licensure (though most don’t). Once you get some experience in a clinical lab, you can go onto management, QA, lab information systems, industry (field service, sales, applications), teaching, etc. It’s a great major for any sort of medical graduate program. Former classmates of mine have gone to medical school, PA school, and a PhD (PhD in immunology, and now working as a PhD Clinical Microbiologist in a large clinical reference laboratory).

This is a great article that explains more and has a lot of helpful links: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/the-hi ... aves-lives

I was a lot like your daughter. Loved biology, but not interested in medical school. I wanted to learn about genetics, microbiology, physiology, etc, and MLS allowed me to combine those things into a career path.

ernieM
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by ernieM » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:57 am

Give her a chance to follow her interests.....take the courses that interest her....micro, genetics, biochem, etc. At some point, she will have found an area (or areas) she wants to pursue. Perhaps it will combine her interests in biological sciences and art. I entered the University interested in Biology but no clue as to what area. It 'hit' me in junior year and a few years as a Med Tech in a microbiology lab......microbiology. Turned this into a career as a Ph.D. researcher/teacher and Faculty member at a University [recently retired, but still active]. Never, ever thought of it as 'work', nor was I in it for the money.....perhaps that's 'old school', and that's OK with me. Once in the University, she can get involved in research projects...either at the University or summer projects/internships outside her own school. Sure, she may bump around a bit but, if she finds something that can truly motivate her for life, it will be well worth it

[FWIW, I also never had an interest in a career in medicine....and, though I appreciate the field of study, ecology was not on my radar.....unless it was microbiology-related :-)]
Last edited by ernieM on Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by ellink » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:04 am

I had similar interests -- biology and the arts. I went into a field called Science Communications. My job is to "translate" scientific discoveries into lay terms. I find the work incredibly interesting -- I work with the scientists who are making amazing discoveries -- and also with patient families who benefit from these innovations. The field combines knowledge of biology with writing, film making, social media etc. There are many high profile internships to get some exposure to the work and see if it's a good fit.

Good luck!

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Chrono Triggered » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:58 am

I have a BS in Biology then went on to study Toxicology and Risk Assessment for graduate school. Just having a BS in Biology won't open many doors. There weren't a lot of jobs out there that didn't involve animal experimentation, something I didn't really want to partake in, so I looked at the macro level and become an Industrial Hygienist. I like it. Varied job and you have to know at least in the basics in a wide array of different topics.

Another career I considered was epidemiology. Sometimes I question whether I should have opted for this track, and it does seem like a pretty interesting career choice. But I'm happy with my current choice.

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:03 am

My son's college has a site that gives all the employment statistics of the previous year's class in various majors. I do remember the average salary for Biologists was $44,000. My son is graduating in Civil Engineering and the average salary is $64,000.
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by stoptothink » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:07 am

ellink wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:04 am
I had similar interests -- biology and the arts. I went into a field called Science Communications. My job is to "translate" scientific discoveries into lay terms. I find the work incredibly interesting -- I work with the scientists who are making amazing discoveries -- and also with patient families who benefit from these innovations. The field combines knowledge of biology with writing, film making, social media etc. There are many high profile internships to get some exposure to the work and see if it's a good fit.

Good luck!
I didn't know this was really a thing, but I have several members of my team (mostly with biology backgrounds) who do this although technically their title is scientific technical writer (or similar). My employer publishes a lot of research in our field (a few dozen publications a year) and the role of these individuals is to make this research available and understandable to the general public. They write research reviews, blogs, e-books, make videos/webinars, related social media posts, and we even have a podcast.

FWIW, most of the individuals I have had fill this role began with the interest to go into medicine (and a few of them have gone to med school after working a few years).

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:32 pm

cw35 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:15 am
If she hasn’t completely write off healthcare, and is interested in laboratory work, she should check out Medical Laboratory Science. Medical Laboratory Scientists analyze patient samples in hematology, chemistry, microbiology, transfusion/blood bank, immunology, molecular biology, and more! It’s a fascinating field, and we need people desperately! There are tons of jobs! It requires a lot of problem solving, troubleshooting, and analytical thinking. We do critical work for patients, but don’t work with them directly. So much of the data physicians use to diagnose and treat their patients comes from the laboratory—medicine would be impossible without us.

It requires a specific degree program and certification. Some states require licensure (though most don’t). Once you get some experience in a clinical lab, you can go onto management, QA, lab information systems, industry (field service, sales, applications), teaching, etc. It’s a great major for any sort of medical graduate program. Former classmates of mine have gone to medical school, PA school, and a PhD (PhD in immunology, and now working as a PhD Clinical Microbiologist in a large clinical reference laboratory).

This is a great article that explains more and has a lot of helpful links: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/the-hi ... aves-lives

I was a lot like your daughter. Loved biology, but not interested in medical school. I wanted to learn about genetics, microbiology, physiology, etc, and MLS allowed me to combine those things into a career path.
Thanks for the idea. One of the schools she is looking at, the UW, has a MLS degree program, both a BS, and an MS. She is the kind of kid who isn't particularly motivated by money. She'll probably be happy with a small apartment/condo and a cat and a bicycle to get around. And some sort of profession that keeps her interested and doesn't force her to interact too much with annoying people.

If she is like me, she may change majors 3-4 times before finishing. But then I went to a flexible liberal arts college that didn't care about that sort of thing. The bigger universities seem to want you do lock down your major and course of study early on.

sciliz
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by sciliz » Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:57 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm
Big Dog wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:56 pm
Bio majors are a dime-a-dozen as many grads are unsuccessful premeds. Thus, a job as a lab rat is likely. I always like biochem, but she has plenty of time to choose. But note, not sure that a 'life science' career path that excludes health care is all that readily available.

Don't be concerned about putting an intended major on the college app as AdComs know that many/most? students change their majors. That being said, AdComs are looking for consistency of interests and ECs, i.e., a math major wannabe better not have a poor SAT math score.
I don't know that she has completely soured on any medical career. But she sees the stress and burnout that my wife experiences as a primary care physician, and all the patients who wear her out. So it she was going to do medicine it would probably be something more like radiology where you aren't in clinic all day dealing with patients.

Some majors are "direct admit" especially in popular fields like engineering and business. So you indeed have to designate your major on your college application which means you have to decide by the fall of your senior year of HS. That is 6 months away.

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.
Speaking as a PhD molecular biologist/microbiologist, she might end up with better pay with the art degree. It creates a weird impact on a person to try to prioritize being "practical" and major in microbiology but then end up facing a lot of struggle related to the supply:demand issue https://www.the-scientist.com/careers/a ... blem-32258. Scientific animation is doing amazingly cool things now, but I think the number of jobs is small.
I will say, I think that biochemistry based medical laboratory scientist is a reasonably portable job, that will be employable after a Bachelor's, but she will need to find the correct program- definitely check out cw35's link. I'd compare the salaries for microbiology MLS vs biochem MLS, but I'd bet on biochem being a bit higher.

I'm not saying there are no good career options related to the biological sciences- people with outstanding quantitative/coding skills developed in bioinformatics seem to be able to get employed about as easily as people with physics or other scientific backgrounds making that transition. But there are some things to be aware of about biomedical *research* in particular:
1) like medicine, "training" period can be very long (part of this is that there are too few inexpensive Master's degree programs compared to funded PhD programs; yet the MS is the only thing most industry jobs need).
2) unlike medicine, biomedical research careers are not highly "legible"- by which I mean there is less of a structured career ladder for those early steps. It's very easy to make missteps, and it helps to come from wealthier or more academic backgrounds to make the correct career network connections.
3) there are lots of clinical-adjacent roles that don't look anything like the kind of stress an e.g. ER doc faces (genetic counselor, medical science liaison, clinical research coordinator). I don't know if your wife is more of a surgeon or a dermatologist, but they face very different stresses!

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:11 pm

sciliz wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:57 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm
Big Dog wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 8:56 pm
Bio majors are a dime-a-dozen as many grads are unsuccessful premeds. Thus, a job as a lab rat is likely. I always like biochem, but she has plenty of time to choose. But note, not sure that a 'life science' career path that excludes health care is all that readily available.

Don't be concerned about putting an intended major on the college app as AdComs know that many/most? students change their majors. That being said, AdComs are looking for consistency of interests and ECs, i.e., a math major wannabe better not have a poor SAT math score.
I don't know that she has completely soured on any medical career. But she sees the stress and burnout that my wife experiences as a primary care physician, and all the patients who wear her out. So it she was going to do medicine it would probably be something more like radiology where you aren't in clinic all day dealing with patients.

Some majors are "direct admit" especially in popular fields like engineering and business. So you indeed have to designate your major on your college application which means you have to decide by the fall of your senior year of HS. That is 6 months away.

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.
Speaking as a PhD molecular biologist/microbiologist, she might end up with better pay with the art degree. It creates a weird impact on a person to try to prioritize being "practical" and major in microbiology but then end up facing a lot of struggle related to the supply:demand issue https://www.the-scientist.com/careers/a ... blem-32258. Scientific animation is doing amazingly cool things now, but I think the number of jobs is small.
I will say, I think that biochemistry based medical laboratory scientist is a reasonably portable job, that will be employable after a Bachelor's, but she will need to find the correct program- definitely check out cw35's link. I'd compare the salaries for microbiology MLS vs biochem MLS, but I'd bet on biochem being a bit higher.

I'm not saying there are no good career options related to the biological sciences- people with outstanding quantitative/coding skills developed in bioinformatics seem to be able to get employed about as easily as people with physics or other scientific backgrounds making that transition. But there are some things to be aware of about biomedical *research* in particular:
1) like medicine, "training" period can be very long (part of this is that there are too few inexpensive Master's degree programs compared to funded PhD programs; yet the MS is the only thing most industry jobs need).
2) unlike medicine, biomedical research careers are not highly "legible"- by which I mean there is less of a structured career ladder for those early steps. It's very easy to make missteps, and it helps to come from wealthier or more academic backgrounds to make the correct career network connections.
3) there are lots of clinical-adjacent roles that don't look anything like the kind of stress an e.g. ER doc faces (genetic counselor, medical science liaison, clinical research coordinator). I don't know if your wife is more of a surgeon or a dermatologist, but they face very different stresses!
Thanks for the advice. It's really hard to give good advice to young kids these days because the world is changing so fast. One assumes that something within the wider health care field will always be viable because people always need healthcare and a lot of it isn't easily outsourced or mechanized.

My wife is a family physician for an HMO with some leadership duties so she gets a full clinical load of patients and has supervisory duties on top of that for which she does get extra pay and bonuses but it means she has a crushing workload.

In some ways this may be premature. But she has never really been outside the HS setting and so doesn't at all know how academia works and how to settle on a course of study. We will be doing lots of college visits over spring break and it will be good to have some of these conversations and have some of this context in mind when we do tours and visit departments.

It occurs to me that one plus of going to a big research university like the UW is that she can pick a more technical specialty major if she wants, rather than just getting a general BA in Bio or Chem if she goes to a traditional liberal arts college. Which basically only sets you up for grad school or med school.
Last edited by texasdiver on Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

cw35
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by cw35 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:15 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:32 pm
cw35 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:15 am
If she hasn’t completely write off healthcare, and is interested in laboratory work, she should check out Medical Laboratory Science. Medical Laboratory Scientists analyze patient samples in hematology, chemistry, microbiology, transfusion/blood bank, immunology, molecular biology, and more! It’s a fascinating field, and we need people desperately! There are tons of jobs! It requires a lot of problem solving, troubleshooting, and analytical thinking. We do critical work for patients, but don’t work with them directly. So much of the data physicians use to diagnose and treat their patients comes from the laboratory—medicine would be impossible without us.

It requires a specific degree program and certification. Some states require licensure (though most don’t). Once you get some experience in a clinical lab, you can go onto management, QA, lab information systems, industry (field service, sales, applications), teaching, etc. It’s a great major for any sort of medical graduate program. Former classmates of mine have gone to medical school, PA school, and a PhD (PhD in immunology, and now working as a PhD Clinical Microbiologist in a large clinical reference laboratory).

This is a great article that explains more and has a lot of helpful links: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/the-hi ... aves-lives

I was a lot like your daughter. Loved biology, but not interested in medical school. I wanted to learn about genetics, microbiology, physiology, etc, and MLS allowed me to combine those things into a career path.
Thanks for the idea. One of the schools she is looking at, the UW, has a MLS degree program, both a BS, and an MS. She is the kind of kid who isn't particularly motivated by money. She'll probably be happy with a small apartment/condo and a cat and a bicycle to get around. And some sort of profession that keeps her interested and doesn't force her to interact too much with annoying people.

If she is like me, she may change majors 3-4 times before finishing. But then I went to a flexible liberal arts college that didn't care about that sort of thing. The bigger universities seem to want you do lock down your major and course of study early on.
It sounds like she might be a great fit. We’re all a bunch of introverts in the lab. You do have to communicate with nurses and physicians sometimes, but you generally don’t interact with patients unless you are in a very small hospital or clinic and need to do phlebotomy as well.

Pay does lag behind other health care professions (despite higher educational requirements than many), but it’s enough. Much of the workforce is retiring now, and demand for staff is going up, so pay may rise, and varies a lot by state. Here is wage data from 2017 broken out by state: https://academic.oup.com/ajcp/article/151/1/29/5112880

My university had a 1 credit intro to MLS class for people considering the major. Perhaps her school will as well?

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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:26 pm

cw35 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:15 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 1:32 pm
cw35 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 12:15 am
If she hasn’t completely write off healthcare, and is interested in laboratory work, she should check out Medical Laboratory Science. Medical Laboratory Scientists analyze patient samples in hematology, chemistry, microbiology, transfusion/blood bank, immunology, molecular biology, and more! It’s a fascinating field, and we need people desperately! There are tons of jobs! It requires a lot of problem solving, troubleshooting, and analytical thinking. We do critical work for patients, but don’t work with them directly. So much of the data physicians use to diagnose and treat their patients comes from the laboratory—medicine would be impossible without us.

It requires a specific degree program and certification. Some states require licensure (though most don’t). Once you get some experience in a clinical lab, you can go onto management, QA, lab information systems, industry (field service, sales, applications), teaching, etc. It’s a great major for any sort of medical graduate program. Former classmates of mine have gone to medical school, PA school, and a PhD (PhD in immunology, and now working as a PhD Clinical Microbiologist in a large clinical reference laboratory).

This is a great article that explains more and has a lot of helpful links: https://www.elsevier.com/connect/the-hi ... aves-lives

I was a lot like your daughter. Loved biology, but not interested in medical school. I wanted to learn about genetics, microbiology, physiology, etc, and MLS allowed me to combine those things into a career path.
Thanks for the idea. One of the schools she is looking at, the UW, has a MLS degree program, both a BS, and an MS. She is the kind of kid who isn't particularly motivated by money. She'll probably be happy with a small apartment/condo and a cat and a bicycle to get around. And some sort of profession that keeps her interested and doesn't force her to interact too much with annoying people.

If she is like me, she may change majors 3-4 times before finishing. But then I went to a flexible liberal arts college that didn't care about that sort of thing. The bigger universities seem to want you do lock down your major and course of study early on.
It sounds like she might be a great fit. We’re all a bunch of introverts in the lab. You do have to communicate with nurses and physicians sometimes, but you generally don’t interact with patients unless you are in a very small hospital or clinic and need to do phlebotomy as well.

Pay does lag behind other health care professions (despite higher educational requirements than many), but it’s enough. Much of the workforce is retiring now, and demand for staff is going up, so pay may rise, and varies a lot by state. Here is wage data from 2017 broken out by state: https://academic.oup.com/ajcp/article/151/1/29/5112880

My university had a 1 credit intro to MLS class for people considering the major. Perhaps her school will as well?
It looks like they require a lot of bio and chem prerequisites and then you apply into the major at the end of your sophomore year so I guess she has plenty of time It's not like engineering where you have to direct-apply to the program as a HS senior. They have a nice web site with videos about the major and such which is not the case with every department: https://depts.washington.edu/labweb/Edu ... /index.htm

In a previous generation, she is the kind of child who would probably have been perfect for a modest life in academia, spending 10 years pursing education, then settling into a comfortable academic life. But I understand those days are long over and I don't want her to go down that path only to make substitute teacher wages bouncing around as an adjunct at 3 different community colleges or something.

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alpenglow
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by alpenglow » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:33 pm

I guess no interest in teaching? I majored in an obscure area of bio and decided that the PhD route wasn't for me. As I'm sure you know, teaching can be a great job. I'm making $125k/yr in NY metro area.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:54 pm

alpenglow wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:33 pm
I guess no interest in teaching? I majored in an obscure area of bio and decided that the PhD route wasn't for me. As I'm sure you know, teaching can be a great job. I'm making $125k/yr in NY metro area.
I'm a HS science teacher (after a decade working as a fisheries biologist in Alaska). My wife is a doctor. For some reason neither of those two career paths really interest her :P

She is kind of a studious introvert, and the point in her life where all the immature nonsense she sees around her in HS annoys her to no end. So she has no interest in coming back to HS to spend the rest of her life dealing with all the annoying kids she is desperate to escape from now. Rather than spending her life doing classroom management of 150 kids, only 10% of whom really want to be there, I think she would prefer a more quiet life behind a computer screen with less dealing with people.

campy2010
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by campy2010 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:28 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.
If you daughter has the ability to merge analytical thinking with design thinking with leadership/project management then there are a lot of opportunities in the tech world for project managers and product designers. If she can dream up new ideas then the sky is really the limit.

As an aside, I am originally from the PNW and now live on the East Coast because of a lack of career opportunities in healthcare/life sciences/analytics in the PNW. If your daughter is really set on staying in the area then I would encourage her down a road where there is enough industry to support her career path. Tech is a yes. Engineering is doable. Healthcare is doable but lower salary because of supply/demand. Bioengineering and many other life sciences careers would require relocating. The PNW economy isn't as diverse as it is in other parts of the country. And young people seem to discount the challenges related to geography and jobs when they're choosing majors and career paths.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:43 pm

campy2010 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:28 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.
If you daughter has the ability to merge analytical thinking with design thinking with leadership/project management then there are a lot of opportunities in the tech world for project managers and product designers. If she can dream up new ideas then the sky is really the limit.

As an aside, I am originally from the PNW and now live on the East Coast because of a lack of career opportunities in healthcare/life sciences/analytics in the PNW. If your daughter is really set on staying in the area then I would encourage her down a road where there is enough industry to support her career path. Tech is a yes. Engineering is doable. Healthcare is doable but lower salary because of supply/demand. Bioengineering and many other life sciences careers would require relocating. The PNW economy isn't as diverse as it is in other parts of the country. And young people seem to discount the challenges related to geography and jobs when they're choosing majors and career paths.
Interesting to know. One kind of assumes there is a lot going on as lots and lots of dollars seem to get poured into things like Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle and the new Knight Cancer Institute in Portland. But that may not translate into much in the way of industry jobs. I'm not actually close to the biomed field so I really don't know these things. I know as a bilingual primary care doctor my wife can find a job anywhere with basically a phone call. But the rest of us aren't that lucky. The daughter is 17 and doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. But this is home and she probably does't want to pick a career path that guarantees she will need to relocate.

sciliz
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by sciliz » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:59 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:43 pm
campy2010 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:28 pm
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 9:56 pm

I'm just trying to help her focus in on some ideas of things she might like to do so she doesn't wind up just being an art major and doing digital animation for no pay. She can do that as a minor or second major as long as she has something reasonably marketable and interesting to her to fall back on.
If you daughter has the ability to merge analytical thinking with design thinking with leadership/project management then there are a lot of opportunities in the tech world for project managers and product designers. If she can dream up new ideas then the sky is really the limit.

As an aside, I am originally from the PNW and now live on the East Coast because of a lack of career opportunities in healthcare/life sciences/analytics in the PNW. If your daughter is really set on staying in the area then I would encourage her down a road where there is enough industry to support her career path. Tech is a yes. Engineering is doable. Healthcare is doable but lower salary because of supply/demand. Bioengineering and many other life sciences careers would require relocating. The PNW economy isn't as diverse as it is in other parts of the country. And young people seem to discount the challenges related to geography and jobs when they're choosing majors and career paths.
Interesting to know. One kind of assumes there is a lot going on as lots and lots of dollars seem to get poured into things like Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute in Seattle and the new Knight Cancer Institute in Portland. But that may not translate into much in the way of industry jobs. I'm not actually close to the biomed field so I really don't know these things. I know as a bilingual primary care doctor my wife can find a job anywhere with basically a phone call. But the rest of us aren't that lucky. The daughter is 17 and doesn't know what she wants to do with her life. But this is home and she probably does't want to pick a career path that guarantees she will need to relocate.
The geographical restriction for biomed work is real, albeit probably better than fisheries/wildlife? And it skews urban not rural, of course. Related to that, here is an article where a bunch of economists define "microbiology/immunology" as the most "complex" academic discipline, and show that complex activities cluster in cities. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1807/1807.07887.pdf

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:09 pm

sciliz wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:59 pm

The geographical restriction for biomed work is real, albeit probably better than fisheries/wildlife? And it skews urban not rural, of course. Related to that, here is an article where a bunch of economists define "microbiology/immunology" as the most "complex" academic discipline, and show that complex activities cluster in cities. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1807/1807.07887.pdf
Thanks. In my old field of marine fisheries management, NOAA has five fisheries science centers around the US (Seattle (two of them), Woods Hole, San Diego, and Miami) with smaller branch labs in Juneau, Honolulu, and a few other places like CT and MD. And there are less than a dozen major universities that do serious fisheries/oceanography research. That is the career world you live in. And why I switched to science teaching when my wife's medical career took us to Texas.

rj342
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by rj342 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:51 pm

You mention computers several times.

One step further away beyond biochemistry is bioinformatics, which is more about the computer analysis of genome and protein data.

That is not necessarily a specific BS degree at undergrad level, but informatics is popping up in the context of computer science / machine learning/ data science/analytics programs. Then there would be some fill in with domain knowledge from biochem. And those skillsets are useful for a lot of areas other than just bio-related.

Going to require some math up into basic calculus and statistics, but probably not go as deep into math as any actual "engineering" degree.


Bit of another left turn -- if she is not interested in treating people, what about animals, IOW veterinary?

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:18 pm

I would definitely discourage her from going into veterinary medicine. From all reports, it is as difficult of a path as med school but with horrible wages and employment prospects and the end.

Thinking outside the box. As a science teacher I expect that within 10 years most all new paper textbooks will be obsolete and we will be in a world of 100% digital instruction. Not online learning, regular classes, but kids reading their textbooks and doing their exercises and reading on their tablets or Chromebooks or whatever the platform of choice is in 10 years.

Right now, most of the digital options are downright horrifying. Publishers are putting up lots of old textbooks in digital format as .pdfs and worksheets and such the same way because they are basically cheap and trying to recycle and reuse the content that they own for as long as possible. But I eventually expect online textbooks to have all kind of engaging animations and such. Molecules you can fly through, pull apart, put back together, on screen. Proteins you can fold and unfold. DNA sequences that you can match and mutate and mess with. The possibilities are really endless. I expect there may be some market for artistic types with dual backgrounds in animation/computer graphics and life sciences. So may be there is a niche there to be exploited for someone with the right talents. The market for online learning is going to be absolutely enormous because it will be global. Kids in Africa and Asia will be able to download and use the same stuff. Whereas today they really have no chance of getting ahold of a $100 paper Biology textbook.

musicmom
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by musicmom » Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:28 pm

I second cw35's suggestion of Medical Laboratory Science.

I'm one of the MANY just retiring MLS out there.
My lab has been struggling for about 5 years now to fill fulltime openings on all shifts. Demand is high here in the northeast.

I worked for 40 years with a BS degree in the clinical micro biology labs of large hospital systems.
I was never bored one day of my career. I acquired a specialty ASCP certification in micro biology after 5 years in the field
I was a section supervisor, clinical instructor, liaison to pharmacists and infectious disease MDs. I worked on LIS development and implementation. My opportunities were diverse and challenging.

The lab work can be demanding. High volume of patient samples to analyze, instrumentation needing repair/maintenance, docs calling for results, committees to serve on, meetings to attend.
Staffing is 24/7, 365.
MLS typically rotate weekends and holidays.


But it could be a good fit for someone who would enjoy complex hands on bench work, computer searches, pursuing organism outbreaks with epidemiologists, solving quality issues, streamlining protocols, teaching interns.

The field used to be 100% female; incoming classes are 40-50% male. Pay is good to very good, usually excellent benefits with great medical coverage, PTO, tuition assistance, etc.

I hope there are young people entering the field to care for all us old folk leaving. There is more and more automation but there will always be a need for competent, caring professionals in the lab.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

musicmom wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 11:28 pm
I second cw35's suggestion of Medical Laboratory Science.

I'm one of the MANY just retiring MLS out there.
My lab has been struggling for about 5 years now to fill fulltime openings on all shifts. Demand is high here in the northeast.

I worked for 40 years with a BS degree in the clinical micro biology labs of large hospital systems.
I was never bored one day of my career. I acquired a specialty ASCP certification in micro biology after 5 years in the field
I was a section supervisor, clinical instructor, liaison to pharmacists and infectious disease MDs. I worked on LIS development and implementation. My opportunities were diverse and challenging.

The lab work can be demanding. High volume of patient samples to analyze, instrumentation needing repair/maintenance, docs calling for results, committees to serve on, meetings to attend.
Staffing is 24/7, 365.
MLS typically rotate weekends and holidays.


But it could be a good fit for someone who would enjoy complex hands on bench work, computer searches, pursuing organism outbreaks with epidemiologists, solving quality issues, streamlining protocols, teaching interns.

The field used to be 100% female; incoming classes are 40-50% male. Pay is good to very good, usually excellent benefits with great medical coverage, PTO, tuition assistance, etc.

I hope there are young people entering the field to care for all us old folk leaving. There is more and more automation but there will always be a need for competent, caring professionals in the lab.
This is a field that I did not know existed. I mean I obviously knew there were medical labs and that they ran results. But I did not know that it was a highly regulated certified field that required a certain specialty 4-year education. I just assumed that medical labs could hire anyone they wanted to do the work and just train them as necessary to run whatever test was being run.

I'll definitely talk to my daughter about it. Looks like a good way to turn a mostly bio degree into a marketable job that she can walk out of the university and find should she decide to do so. And if she decides to go on to other things, not much lost because most of the curriculum is transferable to an ordinary biology degree.

She might be really happy just working in a lab in a regular job with good benefits and having the rest of her life to pursue her other passions.

AS LONG AS SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO DRAW BLOOD. She is terrified of needles and shots.

musicmom
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by musicmom » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:09 am

MLS working in small community hospitals may still have to perform phlebotomy.
Also, in very small clinical labs, MLS may be cross trained to rotate through several lab sections such as chemistry, hematology, immunology, blood bank, microbiology.

In larger labs, these are not common. I worked in a large hospital system's off site consolidated clinical lab.
Patient samples were transported to the lab around the clock from 7 medical centers and countless physician practices. MLS staff had no direct patient contact.
There was little MLS rotation between lab sections.
The broad scope of testing performed in each section made it impossible for a single MLS to remain up to date in more than one area. Continuing education credits and onsite competency testing were required yearly to continue employment.
After 2 years as a generalist fresh out of school, I moved into microbiology and remained there until last year. I was highly trained and competent in clinical micro but could no longer perform a type and cross for a blood transfusion or run a metabolic profile in chemistry.
That was fine with me. I loved my little bacteria and do still miss my petri dishes a bit!

A good resource:
www.ascp.org

American Society for Clinical Pathology

Pigeon
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Pigeon » Thu Feb 13, 2020 7:57 am

Medical illustrator, given her interests. RIT, for example, has a program. My sister has her own business contracting mostly with pharmaceutical/biotech companies and has more business than she can handle.

cw35
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by cw35 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:45 am

texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

This is a field that I did not know existed. I mean I obviously knew there were medical labs and that they ran results. But I did not know that it was a highly regulated certified field that required a certain specialty 4-year education. I just assumed that medical labs could hire anyone they wanted to do the work and just train them as necessary to run whatever test was being run.
Neither does the rest of the general public. It’s a problem when it comes to recruitment, and one of the reasons we have challenges hiring qualified people. Even most other health care staff don’t realize the extent of what we do and our educational backgrounds.
texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

I'll definitely talk to my daughter about it. Looks like a good way to turn a mostly bio degree into a marketable job that she can walk out of the university and find should she decide to do so. And if she decides to go on to other things, not much lost because most of the curriculum is transferable to an ordinary biology degree.
You are right. It provides a lot of flexibility. You graduate with a marketable skill, but the degree does not rule out grad school, professional school, or other life science jobs. It’s one of the reasons I chose it over microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, or physiology.
texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

AS LONG AS SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO DRAW BLOOD. She is terrified of needles and shots.
Most programs teach phlebotomy, but as long as she can get through training, she should be able to easily find a job that does not require phlebotomy. The vast majority of jobs do not. I was terrified of having my blood drawn too when I was younger, and terrified to learn to draw, but it doesn’t bother me at all now. Most MLSs I know don’t like phlebotomy so she will be in good company. It’s a good skill to have, and knowledge of specimen collection procedures is important in determining sample quality, but she’ll be fine avoiding phlebotomy.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:13 pm

cw35 wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 10:45 am
texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

This is a field that I did not know existed. I mean I obviously knew there were medical labs and that they ran results. But I did not know that it was a highly regulated certified field that required a certain specialty 4-year education. I just assumed that medical labs could hire anyone they wanted to do the work and just train them as necessary to run whatever test was being run.
Neither does the rest of the general public. It’s a problem when it comes to recruitment, and one of the reasons we have challenges hiring qualified people. Even most other health care staff don’t realize the extent of what we do and our educational backgrounds.
texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

I'll definitely talk to my daughter about it. Looks like a good way to turn a mostly bio degree into a marketable job that she can walk out of the university and find should she decide to do so. And if she decides to go on to other things, not much lost because most of the curriculum is transferable to an ordinary biology degree.
You are right. It provides a lot of flexibility. You graduate with a marketable skill, but the degree does not rule out grad school, professional school, or other life science jobs. It’s one of the reasons I chose it over microbiology, molecular biology, genetics, or physiology.
texasdiver wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:12 am

AS LONG AS SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO DRAW BLOOD. She is terrified of needles and shots.
Most programs teach phlebotomy, but as long as she can get through training, she should be able to easily find a job that does not require phlebotomy. The vast majority of jobs do not. I was terrified of having my blood drawn too when I was younger, and terrified to learn to draw, but it doesn’t bother me at all now. Most MLSs I know don’t like phlebotomy so she will be in good company. It’s a good skill to have, and knowledge of specimen collection procedures is important in determining sample quality, but she’ll be fine avoiding phlebotomy.
Thanks for all the information. Our current top college choice has both BS and MS degrees in Medical Laboratory Science that you basically elect into end of sophomore year after taking bio and chem prereqs so this would be a good option for her to keep in her back pocket as an option without needing to decide right away. Also another good reason to look at larger more comprehensive universities as they seem to have a lot more of these sorts of professional options rather than liberal arts colleges where you just get a BA in biology and move off to grad school or med school.

My wife is a physician. When this child was about 5 my wife took her into her residency program clinic one day to get her required immunizations. When the child figured out what was happening she fled in terror and managed to crawl in behind some massive filing cabinets in the clinic resident's office. My wife and the other docs couldn't coax her back out, and they had to call down a child psychologist from another floor to talk her out of her hiding spot because my wife had patients waiting and they couldn't move the filing cabinets. I still laugh about it but my wife was not amused. More recently this past fall I took her in for some immunizations and she got weak and fainted after the shot. So her fear of needles is probably more severe than most. She might be fine with others, just not the receiving end.

Arlington2019
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Arlington2019 » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:38 pm

I work in healthcare administration (36 years risk management) and I also endorse the MLS route. The UW in Seattle has a very well-regarded MLS program and biology/biochemistry are some of the traditional ways to enter the profession. There are also two year degrees as a medical lab technician. I worked my way through the UW back in the late 70's/early 80's in part working as a lab technician at a local hospital. I then left the field after I discovered that I could not get certified as an ASCP medical technologist with a master's in analytical chemistry: it had to be biology or biochemistry. However, pay for medical lab science is not all that it could be, and the workforce has dropped over the years as automated instrumentation takes over.

Caduceus
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Caduceus » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:46 pm

Anything that's quantitative (requires "hard" skills) is going to be in lots of demand. I had lots of friends in graduate school from a variety of disciplines who decided not to go into academia, or more accurately, could not find jobs in academia. The ones with quantitative backgrounds got hired even in jobs they didn't initially trained for. A friend of mine who was in biology/physics got hired away as a data scientist. I think another friend in the life sciences is now working designing automation technology for Cruise. They seem to both be enjoying their jobs very much.

bonfire
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by bonfire » Fri Feb 14, 2020 4:56 pm

my profession is full of folks with physical science majors. We are local government Health Inspectors/Environmental Health Specialists. Food bacteriology, water chemistry, aquatic biology, etc. The national credential can be found in this link
https://www.neha.org/professional-devel ... redentials

steady government job and openings do not have a lot of competition. I recently posted an opening and had 4 applicants.

Good luck
Bonfire

bonfire
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by bonfire » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:04 pm

I'll also add your states environmental regulatory agency is a good place for chemists/biochemists. If you're in Texas TCEQ is always hiring

Elysium
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Elysium » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:09 pm

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:53 pm
Note: She is NOT at all interested in a career in medicine or health care. Her mother is a doctor and she doesn't want to go there at all. I could see her happily working in a lab behind a computer.

What are the most promising life science career paths these days that don't involve clinical medicine?
Have you looked at Computational Medicine.

Monsterflockster
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by Monsterflockster » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:13 am

texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:53 pm
I have a daughter who is interested in a wide range of subjects from graphic art and animation to biology. But she doesn't have a particular focus at this point. She is a HS junior so we are in the middle of college visits and soon deciding on majors as some schools want the major specified as part of the application.

I'm a biology teacher and somewhat in tune with the career prospects (or lack of them) for environmental and field biologists as I worked as a marine fisheries biologist for a decade before my wife's career relocated us and I got into teaching instead. But I'm not really that in tune with current career trends in the more STEM and applied life science fields. In her AP class last year she found genetics and biochemistry to be most interesting. The ecology stuff not so much.

What do you all think are some of the most promising life science fields for a young student just entering college?

bioengineering?
genetics?
biochemistry?
microbiology?

Note: She is NOT at all interested in a career in medicine or health care. Her mother is a doctor and she doesn't want to go there at all. I could see her happily working in a lab behind a computer. Other than perhaps bioengineering, I'm assuming that most any other natural science field is going to be a path to graduate study and not a terminal bachelor's degree.

What are the most promising life science career paths these days that don't involve clinical medicine?
Fellow teacher here.

Why not let her go to college and figure it out? I didn’t decide until I had to junior year of college when I had to declare to register. Passions change. My advice...let her figure out what she likes on her own on her terms.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:34 am

Monsterflockster wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:13 am
texasdiver wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:53 pm
I have a daughter who is interested in a wide range of subjects from graphic art and animation to biology. But she doesn't have a particular focus at this point. She is a HS junior so we are in the middle of college visits and soon deciding on majors as some schools want the major specified as part of the application.

I'm a biology teacher and somewhat in tune with the career prospects (or lack of them) for environmental and field biologists as I worked as a marine fisheries biologist for a decade before my wife's career relocated us and I got into teaching instead. But I'm not really that in tune with current career trends in the more STEM and applied life science fields. In her AP class last year she found genetics and biochemistry to be most interesting. The ecology stuff not so much.

What do you all think are some of the most promising life science fields for a young student just entering college?

bioengineering?
genetics?
biochemistry?
microbiology?

Note: She is NOT at all interested in a career in medicine or health care. Her mother is a doctor and she doesn't want to go there at all. I could see her happily working in a lab behind a computer. Other than perhaps bioengineering, I'm assuming that most any other natural science field is going to be a path to graduate study and not a terminal bachelor's degree.

What are the most promising life science career paths these days that don't involve clinical medicine?
Fellow teacher here.

Why not let her go to college and figure it out? I didn’t decide until I had to junior year of college when I had to declare to register. Passions change. My advice...let her figure out what she likes on her own on her terms.
Oh, I will, and she will. Although a lot of programs at big universities expect you to declare early on, like mid freshman year. And some are direct-admits, in other words you apply into the major direct from HS.

I'm just trying to stimulate so ideas for her to think about as we go about college visits, and some departments that she might want to visit when we do. She feels at a loss and adrift because many of her other friends are already planning to either go to law school or med school or engineering school and have their careers already mapped out. Even if many of them won't actually get there. She just feels like she needs to start having more specificity rather than "I'm an undeclared major, I'll figure it out sometime....I hope"

wineandplaya
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by wineandplaya » Sat Feb 15, 2020 3:44 am

Bioinformatics is an interesting field with lots of potential. I once worked at a bioinformatics lab as a mathematician and quite enjoyed it. A chemical/biological engineering degree with lots of math & programming would be an excellent fit for such a lab. A graduate degree (preferably PhD) is almost a must but there is no need to pay for graduate school - just rely on RA or TA funding.

JPM
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by JPM » Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:19 pm

I live in an area with a lot of biomedical industrial operations. The biologists, engineers, MDs, and other technical professionals who have worked in industry developing medical testing and treatments have often had great careers that filled them with pride in the things they developed and enabled them to retire with low to mid eight figures.

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texasdiver
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:37 pm

JPM wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:19 pm
I live in an area with a lot of biomedical industrial operations. The biologists, engineers, MDs, and other technical professionals who have worked in industry developing medical testing and treatments have often had great careers that filled them with pride in the things they developed and enabled them to retire with low to mid eight figures.
Which region of the country is this if I may ask. The Northeast?

mg1655
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by mg1655 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:07 am

texasdiver wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 4:37 pm
JPM wrote:
Sat Feb 15, 2020 2:19 pm
I live in an area with a lot of biomedical industrial operations. The biologists, engineers, MDs, and other technical professionals who have worked in industry developing medical testing and treatments have often had great careers that filled them with pride in the things they developed and enabled them to retire with low to mid eight figures.
Which region of the country is this if I may ask. The Northeast?
Not JPM but the Bay Area has a good concentration. Look up intuitive surgical as an example. There are a ton of sequencing diagnostic companies such as grail, counsyl, etc.

Boston is the other major hub for biotech activity, San Diego has a nice concentration as well.

I would recommend bioinformatics / computational biology if the person is an introvert. Demand is fairly high and there’s no need for doing lab work so schedule can be flexible. Companies are also slowly realizing that they are competing against tech companies for people who can code, so salaries are good and a PhD is not required. Additionally, there’s the job flexibility of being able to switch to tech or really any other industry, as all industries require software these days.

Biology is typically a lot of monotonous lab work. If they are in the research lab it also comes with a hefty serving of results that can’t be replicated as the pressure to publish is extremely high. If you like doing dishes then the lab is a good place to be (literally, as a grad student we had to wash our lab ware).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replication_crisis

I would stay away from drug discovery/development as layoffs are common. It’s quite hard to make a drug.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eroom%27s_law

CheeseheadCycler
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by CheeseheadCycler » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:16 am

+1 for the bioinformatics suggestions. Also, for an undergrad, considering adding a math, stats, or computer science double major to bio or chemistry. That will open up a lot of doors for either direct jobs out of undergrad or interesting (and well paying) jobs out of grad school.

For what it is worth, quantitative ecology/biology/toxicology/fisheries jobs have much fewer qualified applicants than plain jobs in those areas. I work in this area, please DM me if you would like more details.

MathWizard
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by MathWizard » Sun Feb 16, 2020 10:30 am

Two sons,
the older one with an MIS degree from the Business Bioengineering degree from the Engineering College.

They graduated 3 years apart with a BS from the same Univ, and work for the same employer.

While both did well in school, the younger one had better grades and was a Nat Merit Scholar.

The younger one has half the salary of the older one, and both are surprised at that.

So I would suggest bioinformatics, since programming is included in that, which might be a fall back option.

PiperCub
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Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by PiperCub » Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:28 pm

My daughter sounds very similar to yours. On a recent college tour, our tour guide - a 4th year bio major - said she planned to go to grad school for genetic counseling. This piqued my daughter's interest, as she is very interested in biology but not interested in medical school.

Genetic counselors don't deal with needles and spend a lot of time analyzing data so individuals and couples can make informed decisions. Projected growth over the next 10 years is expected in the neighborhood of 25%.

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texasdiver
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Location: Vancouver WA

Re: Recommended biology/life science related majors and careers?

Post by texasdiver » Sun Feb 16, 2020 4:03 pm

PiperCub wrote:
Sun Feb 16, 2020 12:28 pm
My daughter sounds very similar to yours. On a recent college tour, our tour guide - a 4th year bio major - said she planned to go to grad school for genetic counseling. This piqued my daughter's interest, as she is very interested in biology but not interested in medical school.

Genetic counselors don't deal with needles and spend a lot of time analyzing data so individuals and couples can make informed decisions. Projected growth over the next 10 years is expected in the neighborhood of 25%.
She loves genetics so that might be an interesting option. She is a talented kid who has a wide variety of interests and isn't particularly driven by practicality or money or future success. Left to her own devices and without guidance she might wind up studying Elizabethan poetry or feminist theory or film studies or art history or computer animation or something completely esoteric and academic. She has an aptitude and interest in science so pointing her in the direction of some STEM life science specialties that aren't completely esoteric and unmarketable is all I want to do.

I hate to be THAT parent, but it is what it is.

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