Which Type of Biologists Make the Most Money? A Comprehensive Guide

Do you dream of a high-earning career in the field of biology? Well, you might be surprised to find out that not all biology jobs come with the same paycheck. In fact, some types of biologists make a significantly higher salary than others. Curious as to what type of biologist earns the most money? Keep reading to find out.

When it comes to high-paying biology jobs, it’s important to first acknowledge that the field of biology is incredibly vast and diverse. From molecular biology to microbiology, environmental biology to marine biology, there are a plethora of subfields to choose from. However, according to salary data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-earning biologists fall into the categories of Medical and Health Services Managers, Biochemists and Biophysicists, and Biological Scientists. It’s worth noting that these aren’t the only high-paying specialties, but they are among the top.

If you’re thinking about a career in biology and have your sights set on a big salary, it pays to know which subfields are the most lucrative. Of course, financial gain isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a career, but it can certainly be a motivating factor for many. So, whether you’re passionate about healthcare management, researching diseases at the molecular level, or exploring the complexities of the natural world, there may be a biology career out there that offers both fulfillment and a healthy paycheck.

Highest Paid Biologist Jobs

Biologists are responsible for studying living organisms and their interactions with the environment. Despite the inherently valuable and rewarding nature of the job, some biologists make significantly more money than others, depending on the specialization they choose to pursue.

  • Medical Scientists – Biologists who specialize in medical research and clinical trials are among the highest paid biologists. Their research and experiments help develop new medicines, therapies, and techniques to cure diseases and improve patient health. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for medical scientists is $88,790.
  • Biotech Researchers – Biologists who work in the biotechnology industry are typically involved in researching, developing, and testing new products and processes utilizing living organisms. Biotech researchers are often required to have advanced degrees and work in laboratories to conduct experiments and analyze data. The average salary for biotech researchers is $95,860.
  • Environmental Engineers – While environmental engineering is not strictly a biology specialty, it does encompass many of the same principles and techniques. Environmental engineers work to design and implement systems and technologies that improve the natural environment and promote sustainable development. The median annual salary for environmental engineers is $88,860.

If you’re looking to pursue a career in biology and want to maximize your earning potential, it’s worth considering specializing in one of these high-paying fields. Keep in mind, however, that there are many other fulfilling and rewarding careers in biology that offer additional benefits beyond just a high salary.

So, if you’re passionate about the study of life and want to make a meaningful impact, don’t be afraid to explore different career paths in biology and determine which one aligns best with your interests and goals.

Biology SpecializationAverage Annual Salary
Medical Scientists$88,790
Biotech Researchers$95,860
Environmental Engineers$88,860


  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook
  • PayScale

Salaries of Biologists in Different Fields

Biologists are scientists who study living organisms and their interactions with the environment at various levels. Biologists are employed in different fields such as academia, research, government agencies, and private companies. While salaries vary depending on experience, education, and employer, some fields of biology tend to offer higher salaries than others. Here are the salaries of biologists in different fields.

  • Medical Biology: Biologists who work in the medical field tend to earn the highest salaries. They study the human body, illnesses, and diseases at the molecular, cellular, and organismic levels. Medical biologists can work in hospitals, research facilities, or pharmaceutical companies. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, medical scientists earned a median salary of $91,510 per year.
  • Environmental Biology: Biologists who study the environment and how living organisms interact with it are called environmental biologists. They can work in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private companies. Environmental biologists focus on issues such as conservation, wildlife management, and ecology. According to the BLS, as of May 2020, environmental scientists earned a median salary of $73,230 per year.
  • Microbiology: Biologists who study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites are called microbiologists. They can work in research facilities, medical laboratories, or government agencies. Microbiologists are involved in developing vaccines, antibiotics, and other medicines to combat infectious diseases. According to the BLS, as of May 2020, microbiologists earned a median salary of $75,650 per year.

It’s worth noting that job outlook for biologists is positive, with an expected job growth of 5% from 2019 to 2029, according to the BLS. As the world faces challenges such as COVID-19, climate change, and other environmental issues, biologists play a crucial role in finding solutions to these problems.

Here is a table demonstrating the median salaries for biologists in various fields as of May 2020, according to the BLS.

FieldMedian Annual Salary
Medical Biology$91,510
Environmental Biology$73,230

Overall, biologists can make a decent living depending on their field of expertise, experience, and education. Medical biologists tend to make the most money, followed by environmental biology and microbiology. As the demand for biologists continues to grow, we can expect to see more competitive job offers and higher salaries in the field in the future.

Biologists in Research and Development

Research and Development or R&D is one of the essential functions of many organizations or industries, including biotech and pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and academic institutions. The goal of R&D is to improve existing products or processes or create new ones that can benefit society by addressing unmet needs or solving critical issues in health, environment, agriculture, or other areas.

Biologists often play a vital role in R&D projects, collaborating with chemists, engineers, data scientists, and other experts to design, conduct, and analyze experiments, develop and optimize protocols, and interpret and communicate results. Biologists in R&D typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, and many have advanced degrees, such as a master’s or Ph.D.

  • Research Biologists: Research biologists are scientists who design, conduct, and publish original research studies that aim to generate new knowledge or test hypotheses. Research biologists can work in academia, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or private companies, and their areas of focus can vary widely, from neuroscience to ecology, genetics to biophysics. The median annual salary for research biologists is around $74,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Development Biologists: Development biologists are scientists who use their understanding of biological processes and concepts to improve or create novel products or applications, such as drugs, vaccines, diagnostic tests, or biomanufacturing processes. Development biologists often work in the biotech, pharmaceutical, or medical device industry, and collaborate closely with other R&D functions, such as chemistry, engineering, and regulatory affairs. The median annual salary for development biologists is around $96,000, according to Payscale.
  • Biomedical Engineers: Biomedical engineers are professionals who apply engineering principles and techniques to solve problems in medicine and biology. Biomedical engineers can design and develop new medical devices, prosthetics, imaging systems, or artificial organs, or improve existing ones. Biomedical engineers often work in R&D teams, alongside biologists, physicians, and other experts, and may have advanced degrees in both engineering and biology. The median annual salary for biomedical engineers is around $91,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Overall, biologists in R&D can have diverse and rewarding careers, with opportunities to contribute to groundbreaking discoveries, improve public health, and make a positive impact on society. The salaries for R&D biologists can vary widely based on their level of education, experience, industry, and location, but generally, they can expect to earn competitive wages and benefits packages.

Here is a table summarizing the median salaries of different types of biologists in R&D:

PositionMedian Annual Salary (US$)
Research Biologist$74,000
Development Biologist$96,000
Biomedical Engineer$91,000

It is important to note that this table is meant to provide a general idea of the salaries for biologists in R&D and may not reflect the actual salaries of individual professionals.

Biologists in Healthcare and Medicine

Biologists in the healthcare and medicine industry focus on the study of living organisms and how they relate to medicine, medical treatments and patient care. There are many professions within the healthcare and medicine industry, including pharmacologists, microbiologists, clinical research associates, and biochemists.

  • Pharmacologists: Pharmacologists are scientists who study how drugs interact with the human body, and how they can be used to treat diseases. They also study the safety of drugs.
  • Microbiologists: Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. They identify and study diseases caused by these organisms.
  • Clinical research associates: Clinical research associates work on clinical trial studies to analyze and interpret data to determine the effectiveness of new drugs or treatments.

Below is a table with the average salaries of these specific jobs:

Job TitleAverage Salary
Clinical Research Associate$62,000

Biologists in healthcare and medicine play a critical role in improving healthcare quality and outcomes. They help to develop new treatments and cures for diseases, conduct research for drug companies, and develop policies for healthcare organizations. This industry requires individuals with a strong scientific background, as well as excellent attention to detail and analytical skills.

Biologists in Environmental Conservation

Biologists who specialize in environmental conservation focus on ways to preserve and protect natural resources. They work to maintain ecosystems and habitats, prevent species extinction, and minimize human impact on the environment. While this field may not offer the highest salaries in the biology industry, it can still be extremely rewarding for those who are passionate about the preservation of nature.

Career Opportunities in Environmental Conservation

  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Ecologist
  • Conservation Biologist

These roles involve conducting research on natural habitats and species to identify threats and develop conservation plans. They also work with relevant stakeholders such as government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the public to implement these plans and promote sustainable practices.

Skills Needed for Biologists in Environmental Conservation

Aside from a formal education in biology or a related field, biologists in environmental conservation must possess a range of skills, including:

  • Excellent research and data collection skills
  • Strong communication and interpersonal abilities
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking skills
  • Ability to work well in teams as well as individually
  • A passion for the environment and conservation efforts

Salary Expectations

As mentioned earlier, biologists in environmental conservation may not always earn the highest salaries in the biology industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for environmental scientists and specialists (which includes conservation biologists and wildlife biologists) was $71,360 as of May 2020. However, the top 10 percent of earners in this field made over $124,620. Factors such as experience, education level, and location can also influence salary expectations.

Annual Median Wage for Environmental Scientists and Specialists (May 2020)$71,360
10% Earned Less Than$43,810
10% Earned More Than$124,620

Overall, biologists in environmental conservation play a crucial role in maintaining and preserving our natural world. While the salaries may not be as high as other fields, the work can be incredibly fulfilling and rewarding for those who have a passion for the environment.

Biologists in Agriculture and Food Science

Biologists in Agriculture and Food Science are professionals who research and improve the methods used in plant and animal cultivation and food production to ensure the quality and safety of the food supply. They work in various settings, including governmental agencies, universities, private businesses, and research institutions. Biologists in this field use their knowledge and skills to develop new technologies and techniques to improve crop production and maximize yields.

  • Agricultural Biotechnologist: Agricultural Biotechnologists work to increase agricultural productivity and crop yields by developing new agronomic practices, improving plant breeding techniques, and decreasing reliance on pesticides and fertilizers. They also research and develop genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that can grow faster and be more resistant to pests, diseases, and environmental stressors.
  • Food Microbiologist: Food Microbiologists are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of the food supply. They conduct research on microorganisms that can impact food production, assess the risks of foodborne illnesses, and develop strategies to prevent contamination. They also work with food companies to develop and implement safety programs and regulations.
  • Plant Pathologist: Plant Pathologists are experts in the study of plant diseases and their management. They investigate the spread and persistence of plant diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens, using tools such as molecular biology, genetics, and microbiology. They also develop strategies to control and prevent the spread of plant diseases.

Agricultural and Food Science Biologists salaries may vary depending on their specialization and employer. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for Agricultural and Food Scientists was $67,950 per year in May 2019. The table below shows the median annual salaries for the different specializations in this field:

SpecializationMedian Salary
Agricultural Biotechnologist$65,527
Food Microbiologist$76,370
Plant Pathologist$64,020

In conclusion, Biologists in Agriculture and Food Science are essential professionals who work to improve the safety, quality, and sustainability of our food supply. Specializations within this field include Agricultural Biotechnologists, Food Microbiologists, and Plant Pathologists, with median salaries ranging from $64,020 to $76,370 per year.

Biologists in Biotech and Genetics

Biotechnology and genetics are rapidly growing fields that offer exciting job opportunities for biologists. Biologists working in these areas use their scientific knowledge to develop new treatments and technologies that benefit society. Additionally, these fields typically offer high-paying positions for those with the right skills and experience.

One of the subfields of biotechnology is biomaterials, which involves creating materials that interact with living organisms. Biologists working in this field may develop synthetic materials for medical implants and devices or design biodegradable products that reduce pollution. Biologists working in biomaterials can earn an average salary of around $85,000 per year.

Geneticists are also in high demand in biotechnology companies. Geneticists work with DNA and genetic information to develop new therapies, diagnostic tests, and treatments for genetic disorders. Geneticists can earn an average salary of over $84,000 per year.

  • Biologists in biotech and genetics can also work in the field of biophysics, which combines biology and physics to develop new medical technologies. Biophysicists may use their knowledge of biophysics to conduct research on cell membranes, protein interactions, and molecular dynamics. Biophysicists can earn an average salary of around $88,000 per year.
  • Another area of biotech and genetics that offers high salaries is bioinformatics. This field involves processing and analyzing large amounts of genomic data to identify new patterns and correlations. Biologists working in bioinformatics may use their skills to develop new computational tools for studying genetic information and may earn an average salary of around $87,000 per year.
  • Biologists may also work in the field of biomanufacturing, which involves using living cells to produce drugs, vaccines, and other products. Biologists working in biomanufacturing can earn an average salary of around $86,000 per year.

Overall, biologists working in biotech and genetics have the potential to earn high salaries and make significant contributions to society by developing new technologies and therapies. These fields offer a challenging and rewarding career path for those with a strong interest in science.

Below is a table showcasing the average salaries of biologists in biotech and genetics:

SubfieldAverage Salary
Biomaterials$85,000 per year
GeneticsOver $84,000 per year
BiophysicsAround $88,000 per year
BioinformaticsAround $87,000 per year
BiomanufacturingAround $86,000 per year

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in biotech or genetics, there are many different paths you can take. Consider pursuing a degree in biology or a related field and gaining experience in a relevant research lab or internship. By building a strong foundation of knowledge and skills, you can set yourself up for success in these exciting and rewarding fields.

What type of biologists make the most money?

1. What type of biologist generally earns the highest salary?

Biomedical researchers and geneticists are among the highest-paid biologists, with an average annual salary of around $85,000.

2. Do marine biologists make a lot of money?

Marine biologists may not earn as much as other types of biologists, with an average salary of around $60,000. However, salaries can vary depending on the job location and the employer.

3. What is the salary of a wildlife biologist?

The average salary of a wildlife biologist ranges from around $45,000 to $75,000 a year, depending on factors such as experience, job location, and skill set.

4. Can biotech researchers earn high salaries?

Yes, biotech researchers can earn high salaries, with an average annual salary of around $80,000. However, salaries can vary depending on the company, job location, and experience.

5. Are there any other types of biologists that make good money?

Yes, some other types of biologists that make good money include microbiologists, biochemists, and molecular biologists.

6. What factors can affect a biologist’s salary?

Several factors can affect a biologist’s salary, such as job location, employer, experience, education level, and skill set.

Thanks for Reading!

We hope you found this article informative and helpful. Remember, when it comes to choosing a career in biology, the pay scale should not be the only factor to consider. It is important to choose a field based on your interests and passion. Do visit again soon for more informative articles.