No such thing as a well paid Biology/Biological sciences job?

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jamb97
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#1
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#1
I am planning to do a biological sciences/biology Bsc next year and am a bit worried by a lot of people saying that it's not possible to get a well paid career from it, or that jobs in the field are saturated, due to it being a 'softer' science.

I am not concerned with making "lots" of money, but I would still like to earn a reasonable amount so I can fund my hobbies, buy a house etc. I have done some research and found jobs that I *think should be applicable* to a biology graduate (or a biology graduate who does a post grad qualification) including: Patent attorney, Regulatory affairs officer/associate, Healthcare scientist/toxicologist and Food scientist/technologist (I know this one might sound like it would be low, but IMO £30-45k after 5 years isn't bad, or up to £65k eventually). Even teaching, while it obviously isn't typically 'high' salary still isn't a 'bad' salary, especially with leadership roles and in different countries. I looked at a few websites for each of these, inlcuding www.prospects.ac.uk (which I assume must be at least a bit reliable since it's the usually the first result if you type in the salary for any job in the uk on google).

Can anyone confirm or prove this idea wrong, are the jobs I've listed misrepresented by the research I've done, or are all these jobs possible (and more)? I've heard yes and no from different sides so I'm a bit confused.

Thanks
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danhirons
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#2
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#2
when you qualify as a patent attorney after, on average, 4 and a half years ish, you're on 65-70k.
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alleycat393
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#3
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#3
To stay in science you need at least a masters if not a PhD. Scientists earn enough to buy a house and fund hobbies and £35-40k is more than enough to live decently on. You will work you way up but there are definitely better paid fields than science which you can get into with a science degree.
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Nightwing_
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#4
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(Original post by jamb97)
I am planning to do a biological sciences/biology Bsc next year and am a bit worried by a lot of people saying that it's not possible to get a well paid career from it, or that jobs in the field are saturated, due to it being a 'softer' science.

I am not concerned with making "lots" of money, but I would still like to earn a reasonable amount so I can fund my hobbies, buy a house etc. I have done some research and found jobs that I *think should be applicable* to a biology graduate (or a biology graduate who does a post grad qualification) including: Patent attorney, Regulatory affairs officer/associate, Healthcare scientist/toxicologist and Food scientist/technologist (I know this one might sound like it would be low, but IMO £30-45k after 5 years isn't bad, or up to £65k eventually). Even teaching, while it obviously isn't typically 'high' salary still isn't a 'bad' salary, especially with leadership roles and in different countries. I looked at a few websites for each of these, inlcuding www.prospects.ac.uk (which I assume must be at least a bit reliable since it's the usually the first result if you type in the salary for any job in the uk on google).

Can anyone confirm or prove this idea wrong, are the jobs I've listed misrepresented by the research I've done, or are all these jobs possible (and more)? I've heard yes and no from different sides so I'm a bit confused.

Thanks
Of course you can earn lots of money doing a career in biological chances, good luck with it as these sorts of jobs are rare and really the top of the field, e.g. university professor. You may have a bit more luck with something biomedical or biotechnological. I did I biology based degree, worked a bit in industry, paid pittance, realised if I ever wanted to have a biology career I actually enjoyed, I'd need a PhD. Getting to the end of a PhD now and realising the job market it tight, I mean REALLY tight, there is not a lot out there at all and money is so competitive it's crazy. Looking back now I wish that I had done something more vocational like medicine, but I was a bit too pigheaded to actually take others advice and was determined I was going to do the thing I was most interested in. I really enjoyed my degree, I enjoyed parts of working in industry and for the large part I have enjoyed my PhD, I would never pick a career based on money, but picking one based on interest has not got me very far and I'm now at an age where friends are settling, most have bought houses and I'm looking at being jobless. I'm not telling you to not pick a biology degree, but I am telling you to think very carefully about your future, I know it seems a long way off, but it'll get there sooner than you realise!!!!
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MonteCristo
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Great to see you're thinking about this and taking things seriously.

The reality is that you can apply to all the jobs that are accessible to other graduates - law conversion, accountancy, corporate graduate schemes, teaching, the civil service fast stream, policing, military, etc etc.

You have identified some occupations that might particularly be interested in bioscience undergraduates. Your obvious options there are patent law, university/research administration, biomedical science (e.g. in a hospital laboratory), pharmaceutical sales, etc.

Bioscience research is also an option but it isn't wonderfully paid (£16,000pa for a three year PhD followed by £35k+ as a post-doc scientist) and career progression is currently tight (as Nightwing pointed out). There is also an option to pursue research in industry, e.g. for pharmaceutical companies.

You have lots of options but should be thinking about them (and planning) while at university. Lots of new graduates struggle because they start thinking about career destinations in their final year.
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MichelleWalker
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#6
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#6
I agree with Monte Cristo
It's not that there aren't well paid science jobs, rather that they are really competitive. If you want to get the best graduate job you will need some previous lab experience. I did a few Biograd courses and the scientists all said that once you get on the career ladder things are much easier, but there is a bottle neck when students graduate as there are too many students for the graduate job market. Only the best students are taken on so make sure you area that student!
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jamb97
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#7
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#7
(Original post by alleycat393)
To stay in science you need at least a masters if not a PhD. Scientists earn enough to buy a house and fund hobbies and £35-40k is more than enough to live decently on. You will work you way up but there are definitely better paid fields than science which you can get into with a science degree.
Yes I wasn't planning on just doing a Bsc and then looking for a job, what are these better paid fields by the way?
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effie13
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#8
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(Original post by Nightwing_)
Of course you can earn lots of money doing a career in biological chances, good luck with it as these sorts of jobs are rare and really the top of the field, e.g. university professor. You may have a bit more luck with something biomedical or biotechnological. I did I biology based degree, worked a bit in industry, paid pittance, realised if I ever wanted to have a biology career I actually enjoyed, I'd need a PhD. Getting to the end of a PhD now and realising the job market it tight, I mean REALLY tight, there is not a lot out there at all and money is so competitive it's crazy. Looking back now I wish that I had done something more vocational like medicine, but I was a bit too pigheaded to actually take others advice and was determined I was going to do the thing I was most interested in. I really enjoyed my degree, I enjoyed parts of working in industry and for the large part I have enjoyed my PhD, I would never pick a career based on money, but picking one based on interest has not got me very far and I'm now at an age where friends are settling, most have bought houses and I'm looking at being jobless. I'm not telling you to not pick a biology degree, but I am telling you to think very carefully about your future, I know it seems a long way off, but it'll get there sooner than you realise!!!!
hey!
what about studying chemistry?
Are there any good career prospects involving chemistry
with satisfying salaries ?
thanks
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alleycat393
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#9
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(Original post by jamb97)
Yes I wasn't planning on just doing a Bsc and then looking for a job, what are these better paid fields by the way?
The first things that come to mind are law and consultancy but what is considered decent pay is relative. I'm in science and consider myself decently paid. I live in a nice place in London and can afford two big holidays and multiple shorter holidays a year and think I live a decent life with my partner. Others may disagree so your best bet is to go with what you enjoy and keep exploring all career options.
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jamb97
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#10
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#10
(Original post by alleycat393)
The first things that come to mind are law and consultancy but what is considered decent pay is relative. I'm in science and consider myself decently paid. I live in a nice place in London and can afford two big holidays and multiple shorter holidays a year and think I live a decent life with my partner. Others may disagree so your best bet is to go with what you enjoy and keep exploring all career options.
May I ask what you do as a career? I definitely would say that's decent pay if you can afford to do that, and I agree with what you last said. Thanks
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jamb97
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#11
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#11
(Original post by MonteCristo)
Great to see you're thinking about this and taking things seriously.

The reality is that you can apply to all the jobs that are accessible to other graduates - law conversion, accountancy, corporate graduate schemes, teaching, the civil service fast stream, policing, military, etc etc.

You have identified some occupations that might particularly be interested in bioscience undergraduates. Your obvious options there are patent law, university/research administration, biomedical science (e.g. in a hospital laboratory), pharmaceutical sales, etc.

Bioscience research is also an option but it isn't wonderfully paid (£16,000pa for a three year PhD followed by £35k+ as a post-doc scientist) and career progression is currently tight (as Nightwing pointed out). There is also an option to pursue research in industry, e.g. for pharmaceutical companies.

You have lots of options but should be thinking about them (and planning) while at university. Lots of new graduates struggle because they start thinking about career destinations in their final year.
That confirms what I thought about having access to the stuff you mentioned, seems realistic about the rest too. Thanks very much for your advice!
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MonteCristo
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#12
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(Original post by jamb97)
Yes I wasn't planning on just doing a Bsc and then looking for a job, what are these better paid fields by the way?
The best paying jobs are those in the City - corporate law (following a graduate law conversion course), management consultancy, investment banking, etc. There is a whole cadre of students at every university trying to beat down the doors of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Lloyds, Barclays, PWC, Deloitte, etc. Obviously salaries depend on lots of things but this article might give you some indication as to how much bankers can earn: http://news.efinancialcareers.com/uk...nt-banker-30s/

Accountancy and management consultancy jobs with big firms can also be very well paid.

Whether you actually want to do those jobs is a different matter altogether but they are definitely where many of the money-orientated graduates want to go.
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alleycat393
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(Original post by jamb97)
May I ask what you do as a career? I definitely would say that's decent pay if you can afford to do that, and I agree with what you last said. Thanks
I'm in academic research.
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username1494226
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#14
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Put it this way. If you want to get anywhere near a decent paid job in the biosciences, you'll be spending many additional years having to do a masters and then a PhD. That's a fact. I highly considered going into biosciences at university and I did my research and it just didn't click with me. If you stop at a BSc, you may as well not even bother with it because you're permanently considered a junior type. The salaries I've seen top out at £40-£50K at best, research jobs pay even less. I moved into the navy instead to train as a nav officer. My potential peak salary is much higher and if I do the job well, I can get to that peak faster than someone who tries to go through the laborious education process to become a relevant scientist. It's a shame because I really enjoyed Biology and Chemistry at A level and did well in them but I had to take a risk/award approach looking at it
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jamb97
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#15
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(Original post by marco14196)
Put it this way. If you want to get anywhere near a decent paid job in the biosciences, you'll be spending many additional years having to do a masters and then a PhD. That's a fact. I highly considered going into biosciences at university and I did my research and it just didn't click with me. If you stop at a BSc, you may as well not even bother with it because you're permanently considered a junior type. The salaries I've seen top out at £40-£50K at best, research jobs pay even less. I moved into the navy instead to train as a nav officer. My potential peak salary is much higher and if I do the job well, I can get to that peak faster than someone who tries to go through the laborious education process to become a relevant scientist. It's a shame because I really enjoyed Biology and Chemistry at A level and did well in them but I had to take a risk/award approach looking at it
I am a bit confused by your post... I was under the impression most MSc's are 1-2 years, what do you mean by many additional years? What is wrong with a salary that tops out at £40-50k? I did say in my OP that I don't care about making lots of money. I was looking into doing a Bioscience with a speciality in food science and considering being a R&D scientist for a food company http://www.prospects.ac.uk/food_technologist_salary.htm this doesn't suggest a peak at £40-50k, and having looked at job advertisements there are some for more than what the site suggests. And what is wrong with doing a degree you are interested in so you have access to things like teaching, civil service and corp. graduate schemes (as another poster mentioned)? I did also consider the idea of joining the navy as I think I'd enjoy the lifestyle and obviously it's good money for officers, however what puts me off is not having a family and the risk of being killed
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username1494226
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(Original post by jamb97)
I am a bit confused by your post... I was under the impression most MSc's are 1-2 years, what do you mean by many additional years? What is wrong with a salary that tops out at £40-50k? I did say in my OP that I don't care about making lots of money. I was looking into doing a Bioscience with a speciality in food science and considering being a R&D scientist for a food company http://www.prospects.ac.uk/food_technologist_salary.htm this doesn't suggest a peak at £40-50k, and having looked at job advertisements there are some for more than what the site suggests. And what is wrong with doing a degree you are interested in so you have access to things like teaching, civil service and corp. graduate schemes (as another poster mentioned)? I did also consider the idea of joining the navy as I think I'd enjoy the lifestyle and obviously it's good money for officers, however what puts me off is not having a family and the risk of being killed
I'll elaborate. I meant years when you combine a masters and a Phd, yes masters on their own are quite brief. There is nothing wrong with it topping out at £40-£50K but in the biosciences field those jobs are harder to come by versus other fields of science. If you're happy making that, that's good. I think its a good amount of money to reach at a peak of a career but if you want more, there are other fields. Also with the navy thing, I'm not in the Royal Navy, I'm in the Merchant Navy. They stay away from wars. I'm training to be a navigation officer which can let me one day be a captain so its quite different
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alleycat393
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Off topic but just wanting to add my two bits worth here. My dad is in the merchant navy (joined at 18) and I have several friends whose dads have also been in the merchant navy and who are in the merchant navy themselves. True, things have changed a lot since our dads went to sea but sea time is long, communication is difficult, promotion can be slow, you have to reach a particular rank before your family can join you on board, kids can only sail if they're in a certain age range, let's just say the life isn't glamorous. Most of my friends plan to sail till they're about 30 and have made their money and then stop and settle down and since most of them signed up just out of school (post A levels) they'll have to retrain to do something else to support themselves and their families.
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redferry
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You can earn a lot of money doing ecological consultancy and the like, especially if you are willing to travel. A friend of mine did consultancy in Abu Dhabi and earned a ridiculous amount, but even in this country you can earn ~ 50k depending on the job, or more if you work your way up.
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jamb97
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(Original post by marco14196)
I'll elaborate. I meant years when you combine a masters and a Phd, yes masters on their own are quite brief. There is nothing wrong with it topping out at £40-£50K but in the biosciences field those jobs are harder to come by versus other fields of science. If you're happy making that, that's good. I think its a good amount of money to reach at a peak of a career but if you want more, there are other fields. Also with the navy thing, I'm not in the Royal Navy, I'm in the Merchant Navy. They stay away from wars. I'm training to be a navigation officer which can let me one day be a captain so its quite different
I see what you meant now, that makes sense. When you say there are other fields, are they fields for other degrees only or would a bioscience degree qualify? That's interesting, I didn't know about the merchant navy. Are you able to join as an officer like in the royal navy? That does seem like a decent offer but I'd still be hesitant due to how much time away it is, but thank you for the idea.
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jamb97
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(Original post by redferry)
You can earn a lot of money doing ecological consultancy and the like, especially if you are willing to travel. A friend of mine did consultancy in Abu Dhabi and earned a ridiculous amount, but even in this country you can earn ~ 50k depending on the job, or more if you work your way up.
I had a quick google and the figures I've found seem to support what you've said, thank you for the suggestion. It doesn't look like a boring job either, do you know if that's competitive or something?
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