Though most students use an associate's degree in biology as a stepping-stone to a four-year degree, you can still find work with the two-year sheepskin. You can parlay your science background into a lucrative sales career, or use it for entrance into a technical field. Once you’re working, however, you may want to still consider additional schooling to enhance your career options.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that a bachelor’s degree often is required, but it's not always a must-have for the job. If you’ve got the gift of gab and truly understand the science behind medical equipment, pharmaceuticals or biological materials, manufacturers may enter you into an in-house training program to get you up to speed on company products. You can make a substantial salary in sales, too. The 2010 median income for manufacturing and wholesale representatives was $56,620.
If you like the details and investigative aspects of biology, you’ll enjoy a career in the laboratory. A lab technician needs an associate’s degree in biology as a minimum requirement. You can then begin the work of analyzing bodily fluids for a law enforcement agency or studying blood for a medical facility that does transfusions, for instance. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010, the median income for lab techs was about $46,660. In some states, however, you're required to get a license in addition to your degree.
A two-year biology degree could serve as your introduction to the medical field. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates (at least through 2020) a minimum job growth of 31 percent for medical assistants. In 2010, the job paid a median salary of about $28,860. You can work in doctor’s offices and other health care facilities taking patient vital signs, making appointments and greeting patients. It could be an effective way to find out if you like the medical field before pursuing an advanced degree in medicine.
If you prefer to work with animals, look into a career as a vet tech. A two-year biology degree can help you land a position in a veterinarian’s office collecting lab samples, assisting with emergency care, and working directly with the animals to prepare them for surgery or provide aftercare. In 2010, the job paid a median income of about $29,710. Working in the field with your associate’s degree for a couple years could solidify your interests and support your advanced schooling to become a vet.
- Utah Valley University: AS in Biology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists
- Austin Community College: Careers in Biology
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Medical Assistants
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Veterinary Technologists and Technicians
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."