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How Do I Go into Evolutionary Biology?

Paleontology is one field that evolutionary biologists can enter.
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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Entering the field of evolutionary biology can be an exciting way to learn about the past, present, and future of biological lifeforms on Earth. In general, most people go into evolutionary biology through a career path that involves many years of education and practical experience. The career field for those well versed in evolutionary biology is enormous, and may include job opportunities in research and education in field biology, zoology, paleontology, medicine, and genetics.

A person who wishes to enter the field of evolutionary biology may first want to spend some time studying the general subject and the history of the field as a science. At its heart, the core focus of evolutionary biology is the study of the genetic and behavioral changes in species over time. Some professionals may specialize in looking into the distant past to determine the prior state of evolution, while others may hypothesize the future changes that will occur as species continue to adapt. By getting a basic grounding in the general topics that make up this broad subject, an aspiring biologist can begin to make decisions regarding a future educational and career path.

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Most professionals in evolutionary biology study the subject for several years at a university. Some may choose to get an undergraduate degree in biology with an emphasis in evolutionary studies, while others may go into the field at the graduate level. While a bachelor's degree in biology can prepare a student for a career as a research assistant, assistant professor, or lab technician, most of the premier careers in the field are reserved for those with a graduate or doctoral degree in the subject. To obtain these degrees, a student may need to spend up to a decade in school.

A biologist may start his or her professional career before completing school. Many try to find internships or part-time positions in a laboratory, or spend summers working as a research assistant on a field study. By spending time interning, students can begin making connections with professionals in the field, and start establishing their reputation in a particular specialty. These early jobs may lead to increased employment opportunities upon graduation, since the student may be able to contact former employers about a full-time job.

A final step in going into evolutionary biology is choosing a specialty field. Modern biological studies encompass a wide range of topics, including the evolution of prehistoric animals, the conservation of animal species, and the study of human development. In the applied field, biologists may help medical scientists study genetics and create new treatments and drugs that use gene therapy to treat illnesses. Most biologists begin to gravitate toward a specialty during their education, and may supplement their training by taking introductory jobs in their chosen field.

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