How Much Money Does a Biologist Make in One Year?

Many biologists spend most of their work hours in laboratories.
i Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

A career in biology offers many exciting opportunities. Some biologists study animals in the wild. Others perform laboratory work that contributes to our understanding of human disease. Contrary to the perception of science as a field that is predominantly male, a career in biology is very welcoming to women. According to the New York Times, 58 percent of students graduating with a degree in biology were women as of 2011.

Wildlife Biologists

    Wildlife biologists, sometimes called zoologists, contribute to our understanding of animal characteristics and behavior. While wildlife biologists do sometimes conduct lab experiments, much of their work takes place outdoors. As of 2012, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that wildlife biologists earned an average yearly salary of $62,500. Throughout the country, average salaries ranged from a low of $48,860 a year in Missouri to a high of $102,980 a year in the District of Columbia.


    Microbiologists study the characteristics of microscopic organisms, such as bacteria. They work primarily in a laboratory setting. According to the BLS, microbiologists reported an average annual salary of $73,250, as of May 2012. Those working in the District of Columbia reported the highest average salary in the nation, $104,030 per year. The lowest-paying state for this occupation, Indiana, reported an average yearly salary of $45,000.

Biochemists and Biophysicists

    Biochemists and biophysicists study how cells behave chemically and physically and research the processes that take place within humans and other organisms. Much like microbiologists, these scientists spend most of their time in laboratories. As of 2012, the average salary of biochemists and biophysicists was $89,470 per year. The lowest average pay for this occupation, $46,680 per year, was reported by biochemists and biophysicists working in Kentucky. Those working in New Hampshire reported the highest average salary, $123,590 per year.

Job Outlook

    The BLS expects the American economy to add jobs at rate of 14 percent between 2010 and 2020. By comparison, jobs for wildlife biologists are projected to grow at a rate of 7 percent, and jobs for microbiologists at a rate of 13 percent. Biochemists and biophysicists are expected to experience higher-than-average job growth at a rate of 31 percent.

the nest