Biology careers for IGCSE / AS & A students : top 5 picks

2 August 2021 — Written by Arpit Chhikara

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Does a career in biology and life sciences excite you? In this post, we dig deeper into how learners can build a solid foundation in the subject as part of their IGCSE / AS & A levels and pursue exciting careers in the field.

Biology is a natural science that includes different topics that connect together to give rise to a coherent theme - life. This is why it is also known as life science. As a biology student, you learn about the tiniest of organisms such as amoeba and paramoecium and also about giants such as whales and mammoths. During the course of studying biology, one learns about evolution, anatomy, organ systems, plants, animals and the ecosystem.

Step into the exciting world of business

Bio-entrepreneurship is the pursuit of finding opportunities that require a biology-based solution. The invention of powdered sanitizer, apps for consulting with doctors and selling non-prescription drugs online are some examples that show the value of bio-entrepreneurship. A career in this field is highly rewarding in the 21st century where empowering the customer is the idea behind any business venture. Using your knowledge of biology, you could very well create the next multi billion company that Fortune 500 is waiting for. In 2020, 8% of the Fortune 500 companies were operating in the healthcare domain, the essence of which is biology.

Step into the exciting world of business

After pursuing your postgraduation in bio-entrepreneurship, you could join a global healthcare firm as an in-charge of marketing, sales or finance depending upon your skill sets. The right combination of complementary skills with biology is what makes one stand out in this field. Dr Sathya Sriram, CEO of preventive health at Apollo Hospitals holds her doctorate in cellular and molecular medicine. (Watch her speak on Nudge Talks 2021 about how she’s utilising her knowledge of biology and business in running a nationwide chain of hospitals.) A career in biology is much more versatile than you think!

Bridge the gap between biology and tech

We are living in a time when biology and tech are opening up numerous opportunities. With the right bent of mind, a biology expert can take their career trajectory in the direction of biotech, bio-entrepreneurship or bioinformatics. The core of these fields is innovation and a lot of pharmaceutical companies utilize it. How do you think we were able to create the vaccine for Covid-19 in record time? Because of the tech support scientists had during the research. If you go to amazon, you’ll find a number of medical equipment including - oximeter and glucose monitoring meter. Thirty years back nobody could imagine such technology could come to the market at effective costs. But today, we have them around us because people from biology, computers, maths and engineering decided to shake hands with each other.

Bridge the gap between biology and tech

In the past few years, computational biology has been on the rise. It is a niche field which aims to answer the question “How can we learn and use models of biological systems constructed from experimental measurements?”. The idea is to frame biomedical problems as computational problems using the insights from maths, computers and machine learning. Parallely, we have bioinformatics. ”https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1122955/#:\~:text=Bioinformatics%20is%20defined%20as%20the,1).”). It is a field wherein biologists create digital tools to understand biological data. If you’re aiming for a multidisciplinary career in biology, computational biology and bioinformatics might be your call.

Share your knowledge with curious minds

The true meaning of learning is sharing your knowledge with curious minds around you. There are endless opportunities for a biology graduate to become an educator. Talking about teaching, after school and graduation you can pick a field to pursue your postgraduation in. It is during the course of postgraduation that you get to specialise in topics such as - immunology, histotechnology, clinical biology. This early specialisation will dictate your path in PhD which will eventually lead you to teach in a university. Or if you plan to teach in school or college, you can do that after postgraduation in your chosen field of biology and a degree in education.

Share your knowledge with curious minds

Post pandemic, there has been a huge demand for online teachers and the[ EdTech sector is rapidly growing](Post pandemic, there has been a huge demand for online teachers and the EdTech sector is rapidly growing for this reason. Dr Andrew Huberman, a renowned academician, regularly shares practical wisdom from biology on his YouTube channel. You could happily earn a living by following your passion for teaching by becoming an online educator. If you don’t wish to take the route of specialisation, you could pursue higher education in general biology and life science. It’ll take you through the basics of the subject in good enough depth to become a trained academic counsellor. You may choose to then work with an institution or have an independent consulting practice. The routes for a career in biology are much more than you can imagine! “Post pandemic, there has been a huge demand for online teachers and the EdTech sector is rapidly growing for this reason. Dr Andrew Huberman, a renowned academician, regularly shares practical wisdom from biology on his YouTube channel. You could happily earn a living by following your passion for teaching by becoming an online educator. If you don’t wish to take the route of specialisation, you could pursue higher education in general biology and life science. It’ll take you through the basics of the subject in good enough depth to become a trained academic counsellor. You may choose to then work with an institution or have an independent consulting practice. The routes for a career in biology are much more than you can imagine!”) for this reason. Dr Andrew Huberman, a renowned academician, regularly shares practical wisdom from biology on his YouTube channel. You could happily earn a living by following your passion for teaching by becoming an online educator. If you don’t wish to take the route of specialisation, you could pursue higher education in general biology and life science. It’ll take you through the basics of the subject in good enough depth to become a trained academic counsellor. You may choose to then work with an institution or have an independent consulting practice. The routes for a career in biology are much more than you can imagine!

Walk the talk as a new-age researcher

Almost all new-age innovation in any field, including biology, comes from the Research and Development world. It is through R&D that you can today instantly know your blood group when going for a blood test. The world of research requires you to have a degree in a particular field of Biology. Neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky from Stanford University did his research on baboons. His insights from biology and anthropology led to the ground breaking book on stress, “Why zebras don’t get ulcers”. Quite remarkable, right?. While researching, you undergo rigorous training as a part of the curriculum to later achieve high credibility and expertise. And end up adding value to society.

Walk the talk as a new-age researcher

The field of research is spread over different industries such as bioengineering, bio-entrepreneurship, bioinformatics, bio-communication and more. The value you’ll bring to your work will be a sum of your logical abilities, research methodology, data analytics and presentation skills. You could choose to work in a particular place or become a fellow at a premier institution once your higher education is over. During a research fellowship, you’ll work with industry experts in an experiential learning environment. This in turn, will prepare you to take up challenges in the workplace and build a disciplined outlook to research. You might end up connecting the dots between quantum physics and biology like Jim Al-Khalili did.

Join the field of healthcare and medicine

The field of healthcare and medicine is one of those fields where the contribution of biology has historically been highly impactful. There are multiple ways to start your career in healthcare and medicine, although two pathways are more common. One is to become a doctor and the other is to become a nurse. Doctors and nurses work in cohesion although their responsibilities they undertake vary in stakes. The in and out patient data that doctors compile is taken care of by nurses and assistant doctors. Closely working in the medical domain are endocrinologists and pharmacists, two lesser pursued careers in healthcare. For people who are inclined towards management, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) offers a postgraduate degree in Hospital Administration. Pursuing it, you could become a part of the fast evolving healthcare industry.

Join the field of healthcare and medicine

To sum it up, the field of medicine is immensely rewarding because you get new challenges and insights on a frequent basis. After school, you could opt for a course in nursing or MBBS to dive headfirst into your chosen field. After MBBS, doctors who plan to specialise go ahead for their MD. For nursing, there too is a postgraduate degree which teaches management and research besides imparting field specific knowledge. In India, for every 1456 patients, we have one doctor. As per WHO’s healthcare standards, we should have one doctor for every thousand patients. More surprising is the fact that we have half the number of veterinary doctors our country needs. By having a career in healthcare, you could extend your services to take the nation to greater heights.

Conclusion

To advance your career in biology in your chosen field, having a keen interest in living beings is a must. Applying academic knowledge with multidisciplinary and experiential learning, you’ll come out ahead with a firm grasp over the subject. Look for the right facilitators who understand your vision and study at a place where there’s equal emphasis on classroom and practical knowledge. You’ll end up with a good grasp over the subject and have clarity over your career goals. We are waiting to hear your experiences!

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