Skip to Main Content
The Choices Ahead For High School Students For Parents (Helping Your Teen) Pre-College Planning For High School Students ForĀ  Parents Science & Math Fields Biology Chemistry Physics Math Careers Career Exploration Biology & Chemistry Healthcare Medicine Nursing & Allied Fields Veterinary Medicine & Wildlife Physics & Engineering Math & Architecture Science in Everyday Life What UW Students are Saying


Careers in Biology and Chemistry

BiologistCareers in the biological sciences: Pursuing a career in biology can be immensely rewarding and exciting. Studying biology teaches us to ask questions, make observations, evaluate evidence, and solve problems. Biologists learn how living things work, how they interact with one another, and how they evolve. They may study cells under a microscope, insects in a rainforest, viruses that affect human beings, plants in a greenhouse, or lions in the African grasslands. Their work increases our understanding about the natural world in which we live and helps us address issues of personal well being and worldwide concern, such as environmental depletion, threats to human health, and maintaining viable and abundant food supplies. This website from the American Institute of Biological Sciences provides an overview of different careers in biology and how to prepare for them, along with information about programs and job prospects.

Cloning procedureBiologists carry out research in universities, government laboratories, and industry. The research may be "basic," exploring a fundamental question to further our understanding of life processes. Such research may be in the laboratory or "in the field." Research may also be "applied," seeking to develop a new or better drug or biological pesticide, a new vaccine, or a way to conserve an endangered species, for example.

A person with a bachelor's level education in chemistry is prepared to assume a wide variety of positions in industry, government, and academia. The more obvious positions for which a background in chemistry is important are those in the chemical industry or in chemical education. Chemists are also employed in a wide variety of related professions such as molecular biology and biotechnology, material science, forensic science, hazardous waste management, textile science, and information management. There are as many specialties as there are areas of application of chemical principles. An undergraduate chemistry degree may be combined with advanced studies in other fields and lead to work in areas such as law or higher management.

Oil RefineryChemists and material scientists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals. Chemical research has led to the discovery and development of new and improved synthetic fibers, paints, adhesives, drugs, cosmetics, electronic components, lubricants, and thousands of other products. Chemists and materials scientists also develop processes such as improved oil refining and petrochemical processing that save energy and reduce pollution. This website from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a wealth of information about careers in chemistry.

Careers in Chemistry: Anything that can be touched, tasted, smelled, seen or felt is made of chemicals. Chemists are the people who transform the everyday materials around us into amazing things. Some chemists work on cures for cancer while others monitor the ozone protecting us from the sun. Still others discover new materials to make our homes warmer in the winter, or new textiles to be used in the latest fashions. The knowledge gained through the study of chemistry opens many career pathways. This website from the American Chemical Society provides detailed information about many of these pathways.

Bonanists in cornfieldWhy Choose a Career in Botany? Plants have intrigued people for thousands of years. One of the best things about plant science is the number of different specialties and career opportunities from which you can choose. Among the careers available to a person who enjoys the outdoors are positions as an ecologist, taxonomist, conservationist, forester, or plant explorer. A person with a mathematical background might find biophysics, developmental botany, genetics, modeling, or systems ecology to be exciting fields. Someone with an interest in chemistry might become a plant physiologist, plant biochemist, molecular biologist, or chemotaxonomist. This engaging website provides information about all of these possibilities and more.

Brain ScanNeuroscience: When you ask a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" many will answer, "I want to be a Teacher" or "I want to be a Fireman" or "I want to be a Pilot" but not many will say "I want to be a Neuroscientist." Yet many people do pursue careers studying the nervous system. "Neuroscientist" is actually a general word that describes someone who studies the nervous system. There are many career paths that neuroscientists can take, such as neurologist, psychiatrist, psychophysicist, and neurochemist. This website provides an excellent overview of careers in this field, and discusses how high school and college students can begin to prepare for such careers. /

FingerprintForensic Science: The forensic sciences form a vital part of the entire justice and regulatory system. Some of the different divisions, or disciplines, of forensic science have become identified primarily with law enforcement; an image enhanced by television and movies. The forensic scientist's role in the civil justice arena is expanding. Issues range from questions of the validity of a signature on a will, to a claim of product liability, to questions of whether a corporation is complying with environmental laws. This website by the American Academy of Forensic Sciences provides information about education, training and career opportunities in this exciting field.

The term marine biologist is used for many disciplines and jobs in the marine sciences which deal with the study of marine life, not just for those which deal with the physical properties of the sea--though many biologists study both. So a marine biologist might be a biological technician, ichthyologist, fishery biologist, marine mammalogist, microbiologist, systems analyst, or a mathematician. Even economists and sociologists, who deal with living marine resource issues, are found within marine biology. In addition, other marine scientists concern themselves exclusively with the physical and chemical aspects of the sea, such as physicists, hydrologists, and physical oceanographers.

ChemistryChemical engineers work in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, design and construction, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, polymers, biotechnology, and environmental health and safety industries, among others. Within these industries, chemical engineers rely on their knowledge of mathematics and science, particularly chemistry, to overcome technical problems safely and economically. This Career Cornerstone site provides information about how to prepare for this career, information about employment and career path prospects, Day in the Life job descriptions and earning potential.

Hazardous biomaterialBiomedical Engineering is a discipline that advances knowledge in engineering, biology, and medicine -- and improves human health through cross-disciplinary activities that integrate the engineering sciences with the biomedical sciences and clinical practice. This Career Cornerstone site provides information about how to prepare for this career, information about employment and career path prospects, Day in the Life job descriptions and earning potential.

Some photos by UW-Madison University Communications.