Get This Job: Biological Technician

Love biology, but don't have the time or money to get a PhD? No worries.
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Love biology, but don't have the time or money to get a PhD? No worries.
arctic wolf

Arctic wolf (Photo by NH53/Flickr)

Say you have a penchant for biology, but you don’t have the Ph.D. necessary to score a research position at a university or government agency—or at this stage in your career, a spare decade to get one. As a biological technician, you can contribute to science without cashing in your 401(k) to spend on tuition. With a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, you’ll earn about $41,000 a year doing hands-on work assisting scientists with lab experiments and field research.

Why I Love My Job

Rick McIntyre, 66/Yellowstone National Park/Silver Gate, MT
While many biological technicians work in laboratories, Rick McIntyre has spent his career in the most enchanting of settings: watching wolves in Yellowstone.

McIntyre rises each morning as early as 3:15 a.m. to be in the field a half hour before sunrise. He locates the wolves using radio telemetry, then reports everything they do—every howl, every kill, every mating act—into a tape recorder, which he types into notes at home. He braves winter temperatures as low as -52°F, and heartbreak when hunters shoot his subjects, which is legal beyond park boundaries. He also shares his knowledge and love of the wolves with the public, giving impromptu lectures at roadside pullouts and programs for local and visiting schoolchildren.

“I have a job that I love so much, it would be punishment for me to take a day off,” McIntyre says. “I don’t want to miss anything.”

He hasn’t missed much: On his longest streak, McIntyre was in the field every day for more than 15 years and saw at least one wolf for 890 days straight.

Pay $41,000 Prerequisites Bachelor’s degree Perks Contributing to science Problems Early mornings Prospects 88,300 jobs by 2022 (+10%)