Jobs in Field Biology

During the 1997-98 school year our department tried to contact potential employers of students with interests in some aspect of Organismal, Ecological, or Evolutionary Biology. Almost every potential employer we spoke with mentioned the following two pieces of advice:

  1. EXPERIENCE! To land a job, you must have some relevant experience. Do anything you can to get that experience. Some possibilities include internships (see below), part-time employment, volunteering, working on a faculty research project or senior honors thesis, and many more. Many of the employers we talked to themselves “fell” into their first few jobs by being interns, lawn-mowers, gofers, and other “low-level” employees, then moving up the ladder through lucky turns of event. Note that experience (even at “low level” jobs) helps you make contacts, and your contacts may find more uses for you if they like your performance (remember that reliability counts for a lot with employers).
  2. People and communication skills are important. The ability to cooperate, collaborate, follow directions, read, and write is important in most jobs (yes, even in science!). In many ways, the specific classes you take as a student are much less important to potential employers than whether you learned to apply these people and communication skills during the classes. You must be able to get along with others, and be able express yourself clearly on paper and in person.


Many of our contacts mentioned the following as well:

  • Know how to use dichotomous keys! Environmental biologists often run into critters they don’t know, and must figure out species identifications on their own. Courses that include species identification (e.g., Entomology, Flora and Taxonomy, Ichthyology, Vertebrate Zoology, Herpetology, and Invertebrate Zoology) are therefore very useful for many of these jobs.
  • There is a shortage of botanists trained in basic plant identification, plant communities, and plant ecology.
  • A broad biological background is more important than the specific area of biology you specialize in. GIS (Geographical Information System; a computerized approach to storing geographical and ecological data) skills are often useful as well. Being comfortable (not necessarily expert) with computers is also helpful.
  • Experience with controlled burns and other ecological management tools can be a big plus to some government and private employers. Consider volunteering with the Nature Conservancy or ODNR to get such experience.
  • The Environmental Studies Certificate offered by the University of Akron can be a plus, as long as the employer is made aware of exactly what that certificate means (such certificates from other schools may be pretty rinky-dink).
  • Make sure there are no obvious misspellings or other mistakes on your application materials! Especially when many people apply for a job, mistakes can quickly eliminate you from consideration, since they may indicate that you don’t care enough or aren’t attentive enough to proof-read your application. (One employer said that he automatically discards any application that has even a SINGLE spelling mistake!!!)
  • Many, but not all, Field Biology jobs require a Master’s degree.  


Potential Employers/Internship Providers:

OHIO EPA — Intern program announces openings at this site early each calendar year (Jan-March, usually). Postings for permanent jobs also appear here.

Davey Tree. In addition to the obvious, they have an extensive environmental monitoring, remediation, and consulting business. World headquarters for this big outfit is in Kent.

Cleveland zoo. Summer intern program. Full time keepers often conduct research.

Enviroscience. An Akron company doing innovative work in consulting, monitoring, biocontrol, and other areas.

The Ohio Nature Conservancy. Many great opportunities to volunteer or intern with this group. Many internships are not advertised, so ask them or a UA faculty member for more info. Click here to link to National TNC Page

Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Many volunteer opportunities

Biology Faculty at The University of Akron. Talk to us! We have many opportunities for students to gain valuable experience working in our labs on ongoing research projects


Other Potentially Useful Websites:

USDA Forest Service Home Page

Jobs with the State of Ohio

Career Positions with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks & Recreation. As yet, this just has addresses to write and numbers to call, not web-postings.

MetroParks serving Summit County

Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area

Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center (Be a counselor for 5th grade nature camp! Earn College Credit!)

The Society for Conservation Biology has a number of national listings for jobs in that field.

The U.S. Government’s official site for jobs and employment information. From the Park and Forest service the USDA to the Secret Service. Nationwide listings

Summit county jobs

Ecolog Listserv after clicking, enter “sub ECOLOG-L {your name}” as the message text to join Ecolog — an email list that will send you dozens of postings for internships, part-time, and fulltime employment as they arrive. Worldwide listings.

Environmental Education jobs nationwide openings

Visit the UA Careers center. They receive a steady flow of job openings for biologists, some for students, some full time jobs for after graduation. They have books full of current job openings, and also have a resume filing service. Once your resume is on file, they will screen incoming jobs for those relevant to you, and will make your qualifications available to the many nationwide employers that contact them during their employee searches. Contact the careers center, Shrank hall north 153. 330-972-7747


Information on Careers in Biology:

Careers in Biology. Collection of sites that discuss various careers in biology maintained by the AIBS (American Institute of Biological Sciences)

Careers in Ecology – Lots of information for prospective ecologists. Maintained by the Ecological Society of America.

Careers in Botany — A general document about what sorts of jobs are available and how to prepare for them, with no specific job postings. A good site to look at , even for non-botanists.

Career planning center for young scientists and engineers. Sponsored by American Association for the advancement of science, National Research Council, and other high-profile organizations.

Careers in science. From Science magazine, mostly for those with master’s and higher degrees

Emporia State University Biology Careers Page. Many good links here for all biological careers.

What color is your parachute (online). Guide to choosing and pursuing a career. Not focused on biology, but might be useful to some.


Jobs Listings on the Internet:

Environmental jobs,,, The Monster Board,,

Bioonline (mostly pharmaceutical and biotechnology, but has a large section on careers and job-hunting strategies may be useful)

Jobs at Land Trusts. The Land Trust Alliance maintains this job board, which often has openings for biologists


Sites Related to Financial Aide While at School:

FastWeb Financial Aid Search