Undergraduate Biology at Illinois Tech in Chicago
Training in biology is vital to a career in medicine. Biologists have many roles to play in the global healthcare industry. Biologists may develop public health campaigns that aim to defeat illnesses such as tuberculosis, AIDS, cancer, and heart disease. Others work to prevent the spread of rare, deadly diseases, such as the Ebola virus. Veterinarians tend to sick and injured animals. Doctors, dentists, and nurses maintain the general health and well-being of their patients. These positions are usually in high demand both in the U.S. and abroad. Additionally, biologists in the healthcare field work for organizations like the Peace Corps and Doctors Without Borders, which help bring much-needed health care services to less developed regions.
Salaries vary widely with chosen area of specialization. The average for medical doctors is $187,200; $149,310 for dentists; and $116,570 for pharmacists.
Many of these careers require additional education and training past undergraduate.
Medical School: IIT offers excellent pre-med options, including a pre-med minor, and dual admission programs with Midwestern University's Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine, Rush Medical College's research-oriented MD program and the Illinois College of Optometry's doctor of optometry program.
Pharmacy School: To become a pharmacist one must earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree, known as a Pharm.D.
Pharmacy programs are usually four years long and must be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE). To gain admission one must have at least two years of college study with courses including math, chemistry, biology, physics, humanities and social sciences. Applicants generally have to take the Pharmacy College Admissions Test. Doctor of Pharmacy programs include coursework in pharmaceutics and pharmaceutical chemistry, pharmacology (effects of drugs on the body), toxicology and pharmacy administration.
If you're interested in pharmacy school, the Dual Admission—Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) program with IIT and Midwestern University's Chicago College of Pharmacy (CCOP) provides a strong academic foundation for students interested in the field.
Dental School: Dentists must be licensed in all states; requirements vary by state. To qualify for a license in most states, applicants must graduate from an accredited dental school and pass written and practical exams.
To learn more, visit science.iit.edu/pre-medicine
Biochemists work with molecules and compounds, often at a cellular level. They study the way that cells across a variety of biological compounds interact, using this information to make more effective medications, diagnose diseases, and produce healthier food. Biochemists work at pharmaceutical companies, research hospitals, universities, food-producing companies, and more.
The national average salary of a biochemist is $55,000. With increased experience and education, biochemists can earn up to $107,000 annually (payscale.com).
Biochemists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development. Most Ph.D. holders begin their careers in temporary postdoctoral research positions. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders qualify for some entry-level positions in biochemistry.
A career as a biochemist generally begins with a bachelor's degree in chemistry with an emphasis in biological sciences. In addition to education, previous experience in biochemistry is often required or preferred, so most biochemists participate in internships or work as research assistants during college. IIT offers many research opportunities to provide students with this hands-on training and experience.
For example, the College of Science offers Undergraduate Summer Research Stipends, and department faculty open their labs to undergraduate researchers, either for credit or for pay.
Research biologists are driven by curiosity to understand the natural world. They use the latest scientific tools and techniques to understand how living systems work. They work in locations all around the world, and make discoveries that can be ultimately put to practical use to find solutions to specific problems.
An April 2016 survey of biology professionals' salaries found a range of $29,000 to $121,106 for research scientists (BS/BSc).
Most research biologists obtain a doctoral degree, and begin their research during this time or sooner. Students start graduate school after their bachelor's degree, and it is increasingly common to earn a Ph.D. without earning a master’s. Typical programs last 4.5 - 5.5 years. In the IIT biology department, you can get started in research before you even head to grad school!
The College of Science offers Undergraduate Summer Research Stipends, and department faculty open their labs to undergraduate researchers, either for credit or for pay.
Learn more about how biological research helps to inform societal issues on the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) website, actionbioscience.org. Learn more about the wide variety of research interests by visiting the websites of AIBS Member Societies and Organizations.
Biotechnology is the use of scientific principles to develop and enhance technology. Biotechnologists work in the consumer goods market, the technology market, business and industry, and a number of other sectors. Focuses are often within agriculture, food science, and medicine, where biotechnologists can be involved with genetic engineering, drug development, and advancing medical technologies such as nanotechnology. There are many other occupations within biotechnology such as quality control, quality assurance, information technology, human resources, facilities, and infrastructure maintenance and manufacturing.
Biotechnologists earn an average of $47,706-$63,001 annually and can earn up to $185,000 annually, depending on years of experience and employer (payscale.com).
Education and training requirements for positions in the biotechnology industry vary greatly depending on the type of position, the size of the company, and the industry sector. Historically, the biotechnology industry has needed intellectual talent at the master's degree and doctoral levels, but the growth of the industry has caused a shift in the types of workers needed to fill critical skill gaps. The education needed for scientific positions ranges from an associate's degree to a doctoral degree, with many community colleges now offering curricula to train biotechnology technicians (biotechinstitute.org).
The biotechnology industry is growing. During the past 10 years, the number of employees in this profession has increased by more than 90 percent, according to the Biotechnology Institute. If you enjoy science, math, technology, investigating and solving problems, and making useful products, a career in biotechnology is something you should consider (biotechinstitute.org).
Patent Law Opportunities
A patent attorney works in a company to ensure that its patents adhere to standard protocols and are defended against infringements. Given the explosive growth in Biotechnology in the nation's economy, biological training is essential to function effectively.
National average salary: $132,000 (payscale.com).
Patent attorneys are required to have a law degree and to have passed the bar exam in the state in which they wish to work. Additionally, certain companies look for lawyers who have studied engineering, biology, or other technology-related fields.
An undergraduate degree from a technological university such as IIT can be advantageous for a future lawyer. IIT is one of only a few institutes of technology with a law school, and the only one to offer top high school students the opportunity to apply for undergraduate and law school admission simultaneously.
Genetics is the study of genes and heredity. This is a dynamic and growing area, with many new opportunities in things like personalized medicine.
Genetic counselors assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. They work in university medical centers, private and public hospitals, physicians’ offices, and diagnostic laboratories. They work with families, patients, and other medical professionals.
Genetic counselors typically earn a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related field, and then go on to get a master’s degree in genetic counseling or genetics. Although most genetic counselors have a master’s degree, some earn a Ph.D.
Genetic counselors can expect favorable job prospects. Ongoing innovations in genetic testing, heightened public awareness, scientific advances in reproductive technologies, and knowledge about the genetics of a wide range of adult disorders have increased the demand for genetic counselors in a multitude of industries.