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Biology jobs question

ElinElin Registered User regular
edited April 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So, when I graduate college my husband and I will have some combined loans that ... well, it'll be a big number. Hopefully under 6 figures but I don't know. I just did some preliminary job searches in fields that interest me and the outlook isn't that great.

I'm a biology major. Looking at zoos the entry salary is about 30k a year. For US fish and Wildlife I can basically start at GS-07 which is ... 30k a year ish. Fish hatchery ... 30k a year.

Ok, it's what I want to do and all, but my husband is going to be a librarian, a profession not known for income potential. I played around with the loan repayment calculator in direct loans and it's telling me that we would have to pay 1200$ a year based on making 50k a year. This is freaking me out a bit.

My question is two fold. Does 1200$ a month for income contingent repayment seem correct?

And what else can one DO with a biology degree. My degree will pretty much be a zoology degree, officially it's Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

****Edit: I was doing it wrong, we're looking at about 600-800 a month, that's doable on 50k a year. I'm not looking for rich, just happy. But the question about Biology degrees still stands. Other than zoo, wildlife biologist, or hatchery worker what could I do with my degree? I'm not really interested in research, a phd, medicine, anything to do with people ... really just animals.

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  • SwashbucklerXXSwashbucklerXX Swashbucklin' Canuck Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well, $1200 a year is $100 a month, which is totally do-able. I was paying more than that per month on a salary of 25k a year. Just make sure to have a monthly budget and communicate regularly about your budget/bills, and you guys will be fine.

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  • CooterTKECooterTKE Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I know some librarians that make well over $90k a year but they have been at it a while and are the upper level management. $1200 a year in repayment is nothing my wife is a teacher and we pay $2500 a year on her loans.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    animal ... research?

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  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    You're going to be fine.

    You didn't describe the kind of loans you have, but most student loans are rated throughout 10 years (or 120 repayments). Your payments will be anywhere between 100 to 200 a month, which is absolutely doable on your income.

    I highly recommend following Suze Orman's saving advice. After you start working, save up your 6 month emergency fund, then pay down credit card debt, then start making an attempt to reduce student loan debt.

    Student Loan debt isn't a bad thing, it doesn't kill your credit score or anything. Also, there really isn't any benefit to paying it off early.

    Enjoy life and pay what they ask and don't get too worked up for it.

    Keep in mind that there are a ton of people out there in a lot worse shape.

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  • DibsDibs Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Is it fair to say that outside of a '6 month emergency fund', it's better to pay it off early than start saving?

    Dibs on
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Dibs wrote: »
    Is it fair to say that outside of a '6 month emergency fund', it's better to pay it off early than start saving?

    It depends on the nature of your student loans. Some loans have already prorated your interest across the 10 years or whatever so you don't save any money by paying them off early.

    Also, most student loans are at a much lower interest rate than other debt - so it's safer to keep student loans longer.

    Certainly there is some consideration of being 'debt' free - but, most of the time your payments are so low that there isn't that large of an incentive to pay them off early.

    Everyone's got their own theory, but a six month emergency fund at the least is critical.

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  • DibsDibs Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Thanks, appreciate the tip.

    Dibs on
  • MegaMan001MegaMan001 CRNA Rochester, MNRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Dibs wrote: »
    Thanks, appreciate the tip.

    At the end of the day you need to decide how much money you need liquid and how much you can sock away towards debt.

    For example, right now I am in anesthesia school at a private university. I have a car loan of about 7,000 left at 200 dollars a month at 0% financing. I have 15,000 in savings. Certainly I could use that 7,000 to pay off my car loan, but why? It's not going to save me any money and it's more effective for me to have that money in savings and security against something awful happening.

    At the end of my school I will be about $90,000 in debt, but I will be making $150,000 a year. All of my anesthesia loans are prorated interest and I won't save money by paying them off earlier. So I'll take a few years to get some things solidified (house, God forbid - marriage, etc.) and then take a crack at the loans.

    Everyone's situation is different, but I subscribe to the Suze Ormann instruction of get your 6 month emergency savings (to live comfortably, as you are, for six months without income) and then after that you start paying down debt in whatever order saves you the most money (typically highest interest to lowest interest).

    MegaMan001 on
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  • finralfinral Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    From one Biology major, to another, good luck. I have found it really tough to find a good job in biology after graduating (in 2004). I worked for the Washington DFW for awhile, but I found it hard to get a decent position, or find any upward mobility. The jobs are out there, but I have found that, in Washington State at least, there is a lot of competition for a very small number of jobs. I've gotten the impression over the years that you need to get a higher degree of some sort to have a decent job in biology. Sorry if that seems like bad news, other people may have had different experiences. I ended up taking a break from the job market in the US by moving to China and teaching. That has worked out pretty well so far.

    finral on
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Look at hospitals.

    A cursory glance at somewhere like UAB Medical Center or Vanderbilt shows lots of jobs that are in line with a Biology Degree. Hospitals tend to pay well and have decent opportunity for advancement and a lot of mobility if you happen to find something in another department.

    edit: Yeah, I know they're not where you're looking. They were just two of the larger hospitals that came to mind. Look for a teaching hospital that is associated with a university. I'm sure you'll find something interesting.

    dispatch.o on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    finral wrote: »
    From one Biology major, to another, good luck. I have found it really tough to find a good job in biology after graduating (in 2004). I worked for the Washington DFW for awhile, but I found it hard to get a decent position, or find any upward mobility. The jobs are out there, but I have found that, in Washington State at least, there is a lot of competition for a very small number of jobs. I've gotten the impression over the years that you need to get a higher degree of some sort to have a decent job in biology. Sorry if that seems like bad news, other people may have had different experiences. I ended up taking a break from the job market in the US by moving to China and teaching. That has worked out pretty well so far.

    I was actually planning on getting a non thesis option masters degree anyhow. I figured I could get work picking up classes in a community college, or some universities will hire people with a masters to teach lower division courses, non tenure track.

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  • fightinfilipinofightinfilipino Angry as Hell #BLMRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    i do know some folks who went directly from undergrad biology degrees to working in big pharma.

    soul crushing? probably. lucrative? yup.

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  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I want to meet these people and steal their jobs.
    Working for the CDC, as I plan to do with health science/molecular genetics, won't pay nearly as well.

    Trillian on

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  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    A GS-07 salary also includes a locality ajustment depending on the area you work anywhere from 15-30%.

    that should put the salary closer to 40K.

    also, you'll get a 2-3% cost of living increase every january and step increases the longer you stay there.

    Dunadan019 on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Trillian wrote: »
    I want to meet these people and steal their jobs.
    Working for the CDC, as I plan to do with health science/molecular genetics, won't pay nearly as well.

    Yeah, I'm pretty much doing everything that would keep me out of those jobs :) Mammalian Physiology instead of human, check. Cold blooded vertebrae physiology, check. Survey of fish and amphibians, check. Oceanography, check. I'll have a minor in Chemistry, but that's solely because my program already requires 18 hours of chemistry, and a minor is 21 hours. I'll be making up those 3 hours with a class in using lab equipment and environmental chemistry. I'll probably also be job hunting with the EPA.

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  • PerpetualPerpetual Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Do you absolutely want to work in the biology/zoology field?

    Because if I were you, I'd think about my marketable skills, as opposed to my major.

    My best friend was a biology major, and when he graduated he joined a software company as a technical support engineer and moved up from there.

    Another friend has an English degree and is working as a web designer.

    These are just examples. Don't just limit your job search to your immediate field. You never know what might come up.

    Perpetual on
  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Well yeah, if you spend your days (and nights) learning all about biology then it's pretty set that it's the career you want to follow. I am going to bet that your friend that joined a software company to do tech support didn't exactly want to do that, but had to instead.

    Trillian on

    They cast a shadow like a sundial in the morning light. It was half past 10.
  • RUNN1NGMANRUNN1NGMAN Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    A GS-07 salary also includes a locality ajustment depending on the area you work anywhere from 15-30%.

    that should put the salary closer to 40K.

    also, you'll get a 2-3% cost of living increase every january and step increases the longer you stay there.

    That, and it's significantly easier to move into higher positions in the federal government once you're a federal employee. Plus, after your probation you can basically never be fired.

    RUNN1NGMAN on
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    RUNN1NGMAN wrote: »
    Dunadan019 wrote: »
    A GS-07 salary also includes a locality ajustment depending on the area you work anywhere from 15-30%.

    that should put the salary closer to 40K.

    also, you'll get a 2-3% cost of living increase every january and step increases the longer you stay there.

    That, and it's significantly easier to move into higher positions in the federal government once you're a federal employee. Plus, after your probation you can basically never be fired.

    most secure jobs on the planet.

    even if your job is eliminated, you will just be offered a different location or different job.

    Dunadan019 on
  • vermiculturevermiculture Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think there are a lot of places where a bio degree will be useful.
    This might be a little bit of stretch, but look into consulting. I know we hire biologists for many things, biologists who never really have to talk to people. Also check out the extractive industries, as they often need biologists working with flora/ fauna so they know what precautions they have to take when building things.

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  • PerpetualPerpetual Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    Trillian wrote: »
    Well yeah, if you spend your days (and nights) learning all about biology then it's pretty set that it's the career you want to follow. I am going to bet that your friend that joined a software company to do tech support didn't exactly want to do that, but had to instead.

    Yeah, but the point is that it turned out really well for him and he's happy.

    Perpetual on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2010
    Elin wrote: »
    Trillian wrote: »
    I want to meet these people and steal their jobs.
    Working for the CDC, as I plan to do with health science/molecular genetics, won't pay nearly as well.

    Yeah, I'm pretty much doing everything that would keep me out of those jobs :) Mammalian Physiology instead of human, check. Cold blooded vertebrae physiology, check. Survey of fish and amphibians, check. Oceanography, check. I'll have a minor in Chemistry, but that's solely because my program already requires 18 hours of chemistry, and a minor is 21 hours. I'll be making up those 3 hours with a class in using lab equipment and environmental chemistry. I'll probably also be job hunting with the EPA.
    It's entirely possible to get a job in academia if you're willing to keep going, which is what I plan to do, but you really do need to go with your education I think and you won't make nearly as much as you would in a corporate environment.

    ceres on
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  • MulysaSemproniusMulysaSempronius but also susie nyRegistered User regular
    edited April 2010
    One area to think about is wastewater work. Most people in the lab I worked in had biology degrees. And at the wastewater plant I worked at, there was a division that did a lot of lake and river monitoring- looking at fish downstream from the treatment plant etc. I did a decent amount of work in lake and river sampling there.

    MulysaSempronius on
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  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I think there are a lot of places where a bio degree will be useful.
    This might be a little bit of stretch, but look into consulting. I know we hire biologists for many things, biologists who never really have to talk to people. Also check out the extractive industries, as they often need biologists working with flora/ fauna so they know what precautions they have to take when building things.

    I want to work at a zoo with my molecular/epidemiology.
    Fuck people, I want to cuddle pandas.

    Trillian on

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2010
    So, from your edit, can I still assume that you're not looking at going on to another degree at all? If you are at all interested in veterinary school, there's always that. You can also study to be a veterinary technician, although a lot of the time they don't make too much. But the program is pretty short, and you can do the certification at a community college or tech school, so it's not too bad.

    We've heard lots of stuff you aren't interested in doing... what ARE you interested in? Ideally, how do you want to spend your days, practicality aside? Because that would be a big help. If you don't want to do any research at all, that's limiting. If you insist upon doing something that requires specialized knowledge, you may be under-qualified to some degree, which is tough if you don't want to or can't go back to school. You can do lots of things with just a BS, but a great many of those things require some amount of something you've stated that you definitely don't want to do.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    ceres wrote: »
    So, from your edit, can I still assume that you're not looking at going on to another degree at all? If you are at all interested in veterinary school, there's always that. You can also study to be a veterinary technician, although a lot of the time they don't make too much. But the program is pretty short, and you can do the certification at a community college or tech school, so it's not too bad.

    We've heard lots of stuff you aren't interested in doing... what ARE you interested in? Ideally, how do you want to spend your days, practicality aside? Because that would be a big help. If you don't want to do any research at all, that's limiting. If you insist upon doing something that requires specialized knowledge, you may be under-qualified to some degree, which is tough if you don't want to or can't go back to school. You can do lots of things with just a BS, but a great many of those things require some amount of something you've stated that you definitely don't want to do.

    I'm getting a masters in Biology. Honestly, I don't think I'm motivated enough for Veterinary. I know that it's tough as nails to get in and do well. The jobs that I've been looking at mostly are wildlife biologist positions (sampling and tracking animals). I've also been looking at animal care in zoos and fish hatchery technicians. You can get plenty of hatchery positions temporary over the summer here, I just can't this summer because I'm taking Chem 112, Trig, and Ethics. The Zoo in Denver also offers summer internships, so I figure I can try those two out before I graduate.

    I'll have an A.S. as of this summer, but I'll still probably have to take 2.5-3 years to get my B.S. due to the spotty availability of some 300 and 400 lvl classes. Then another couple years for my masters.

    I know that I'll be doing a some research in most biology positions, when I said I didn't want to do research I meant I didn't plan on getting a phd and joining a research lab, I think I'd shoot myself. I may revise my opinion at some point as my school will pay people to be research assistants to the professors. I'll try that out too just to see, I just don't think I'll like it.

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  • Protein ShakesProtein Shakes __BANNED USERS regular
    edited April 2010
    Perpetual wrote: »
    Don't just limit your job search to your immediate field. You never know what might come up.

    Gonna have to lime this. I was a biology major myself, and for the longest time I kept my perspective narrow and didn't look outside the field.

    After a year of unemployment though, an opportunity came my way that didn't have anything to do with biology, and I took it. Best decision of my life. I love biology, and may continue my education one day, but I learned an important lesson: sometimes you never know whether you'd be happy doing something, without actually doing it first and seeing how it turns out.

    Protein Shakes on
  • sys64738sys64738 Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I got my BS in Biology then went on to get an MS in Entomology. First job was working for a pesticide formulator, answering support calls and running trials, then I went to work for a large pest control company supporting 12-15 branches.

    I was / am reasonably happy at both jobs though both required long-distance relocation so that may be something to keep in mind.

    sys64738 on
  • ElinElin Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    sys64738 wrote: »
    I got my BS in Biology then went on to get an MS in Entomology. First job was working for a pesticide formulator, answering support calls and running trials, then I went to work for a large pest control company supporting 12-15 branches.

    I was / am reasonably happy at both jobs though both required long-distance relocation so that may be something to keep in mind.

    I'm hoping that I DO have relocation. I hate CO. The only 2 places I don't really want to go to are Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska - too damn cold and isolated, Hawaii - too damn expensive and isolated. I have friends from Alaska and they didn't like it, and my husbands from Maui and his stories of home just made me more resolute to stay "on the mainland". However, if I had to, I'd go anywhere.

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  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited April 2010
    You've got a ways to go yet, then. I'm with you on not wanting to go corporate.

    I've got a year left to my BS, and I think the best advice I can give you is to find a research opportunity with a professor who specializes in your interest. Once you have a 'mentor', these things become a lot more fun to think about.

    ceres on
    And it seems like all is dying, and would leave the world to mourn
  • witch_iewitch_ie Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I was a biology major myself. While I was not all with the cute and cuddly animals (my emphasis was in cellular and molecular biology), I understand the love of the subject and the unwillingness to part with it. Several of my friends were into the animals though. One of them went on to work at a zoo for awhile and then eventually decided to go for a law degree. Another got more interested in oceanography (I think that's the term) and mapping. So besides becoming a vet, legal representation for animal causes, or doing something slightly different, I think you will have to work with the salary that's available for those other more appealing positions. Just as others have said, don't be afraid to take a risk and step out of your "must be animals" zone. Your career path can take as many twists and turns as you allow it to.

    witch_ie on
  • SideAffectsSideAffects Registered User regular
    edited April 2010
    I'm a fairly recent microbiology graduate (06) working in "big pharma" in the midwest. PM me if you have any questions.

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