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The Real Poop

Okay, so you took biology in school and you hated it. Um...tell us again why you’re reading this section? Birds. Bees.

For those of you who loved taking biology, or could at least stomach the idea of pursuing a career within the field, becoming a biological scientist may be a very attractive option for you. For one thing, the work can be fascinating and ever-changing, so you can throw the idea of boredom right out the window. (Remember, this is only for those of you who actually enjoy biology—for the rest of you, staring at microorganisms on a little glass slide may be the very definition of boredom.)

You might want to find something for your hand to do.

There are many different types of biological scientists. There are ecologists who study the environment, microbiologists (who spend much of their time doing the above), aquatic and marine biologists who study plants and animals that hang out underwater, botanists who study plant life and the environment, zoologists who study pretty much all animals, and biochemists and biophysicists who deal with a broad range of studies at more of a molecular level. What you do determines where you work and whom you work for; you may be a lab technician in private industry, a research technician in a hospital or you may teach your particular area of expertise at the university level. Or you can open up a microbiology and lemonade stand at the end of your driveway and see how much foot traffic you can rein in.

Some of the above areas of interest may seem more provocative than others, but that probably means that the job landscape is more competitive as well. (Ain't that always the way?) If marine biology grabs you because you have pictures of dolphins all over the outside of your diary, great—but be prepared to struggle while trying to make your way in the field. A lot of people apparently like dolphins, because this is a highly competitive field. On the other hand, you'd have a much better shot going into a field such as biochemistry, as just the word itself gives most people hives.

Clearly, biological scientist is not something people just fall into. Your dad may have been a biophysicist, but that doesn't mean you're going to "take over the family business." It takes someone with a scientific mind and a passion for learning, making discoveries, and improving our world. You will need a heavy dose of patience, as you may conduct studies for quite a while without producing any viable results. Can you imagine how frustrating it must be for those who've been looking for a cure for cancer for the past 30 years? There may be little advancements along the way to encourage you, but there is no guarantee that your ultimate goal, whatever it may be, will ever be reached. That's the touchy nature of science. On the other side of the coin, if you do make that once-in-a-lifetime discovery, you could simultaneously validate all your years of hard work and make you famous, and greatly benefit your fellow man. You don't have to say out loud which prospect drives you more. We're sure you're in this for noble reasons.

So if you've checked all the boxes for "interest in biology," "scientific mind," "boatload of patience," and "yearning for knowledge," biological science could be your destiny. If you are not yet sure what particular branch you'd want to go into, the best thing you can do is to learn as much as possible about all of them, until one tickles your fancy and you find your calling. If you're not ticklish, this process is going to be even more difficult.