Life Scientists examine the anatomy, physiology and biochemistry of humans, animals, plants and other living organisms to better understand how living organisms function and interact with each other and the environment in which they live.

A Bachelor Degree or higher is required and nearly all workers have a university degree. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is also needed.

Tasks

  • designing and conducting experiments, making observations and measurements, researching information, analysing data, preparing or supervising the preparation of laboratory reports and scientific papers, presenting findings at scientific meetings and conferences, and supervising the work of staff
  • studying the forms and structures of bodily organs and tissues by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination
  • investigating the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms
  • examining micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and their enzymes, and using the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes
  • investigating the effects of environmental factors, such as rainfall, temperature, sunlight, soil, topography and disease, on plant growth
  • planning and undertaking experiments to study, measure and understand marine animals and plants
  • studying the growth and characteristics of micro-organisms, such as bacteria, algae and fungi, and the effects they have on plants, animals and humans to develop medical, veterinary, industrial, environmental and other practical applications
  • investigating the interrelationships between animals in their natural surroundings, in captivity and in laboratories

Job Titles

  • Life Scientist, or Biologist
  • Anatomist, or Physiologist
  • Biochemist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Botanist
  • Marine Biologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Zoologist
  • Other Life Scientists
  • Life Scientist, or Biologist

    Studies the origin, anatomy, physiology, reproduction and behaviour of living organisms and the ways in which they interact with the environment in which they live.

  • Anatomist, or Physiologist

    Studies the anatomy and physiology of humans.

    Specialisations: Embryologist, Neuroanatomist

  • Biochemist

    Studies the biochemistry of living organisms and the molecular structure and function of related components.

  • Biotechnologist

    Studies the anatomy, physiology and characteristics of living organisms and isolated biological molecules, and develops new materials for applying to a range of purposes.

    Specialisations: Enzyme Chemist, Protein Chemist

  • Botanist

    Studies the anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and ecology of plants.

    Specialisations: Cell Geneticist, Molecular Biologist, Molecular Geneticist

  • Marine Biologist

    Studies the anatomy, physiology, functions, characteristics, behaviour and environments of all forms of life living in the sea and connected water bodies.

    Specialisations: Plant Pathologist, Plant Physiologist, Plant Taxonomist

  • Microbiologist

    Studies microscopic forms of life such as bacteria, viruses and protozoa.

  • Zoologist

    Studies the anatomy, physiology, characteristics, ecology, behaviour and environments of animals.

    Specialisations: Bacteriologist (Non-medical)

  • Other Life Scientists

    Includes Anatomist, Animal Behaviourist, Neuroscientist, Parasitologist, Pharmacologist (Non-clinical), Physiologist, Toxicologist

    Specialisations: Entomologist, Mammalogist, Ornithologist

Fast Facts

  • Avg. Weekly Pay

    $1,645 Before Tax
  • Future Growth

    stable
  • Skill Level

    Bachelor Degree or higher
  • Employment Size

    4300
  • Unemployment

    average
  • Male Share

    38.1%
  • Female Share

    61.9%
  • Full-Time Share

    76.9%

Find Vacancies

This is a very small occupation employing 4300 workers. Over the past 5 years the number of jobs has fallen.
Little change in the number of jobs is expected in the future. New jobs and turnover from workers leaving may create up to 5,000 job openings over the 5 years to 2020.

  • While there are jobs in many parts of Australia, Queensland and Western Australia have a large share of Life Scientists.
  • They mainly work in: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Education and Training; and Public Administration and Safety.
  • Full-time work is common. Full-time workers, on average, work 34.5 hours per week (compared to the all jobs average of 40 hours).
  • Average earnings for full-time workers are around $1,645 per week (very high compared to the all jobs average of $1,230). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
  • The average age is 36 years (compared to the all jobs average of 40 years).
  • Around 6 in 10 workers are female.
  • In 2016, the unemployment rate was similar to the average.

Employment Outlook

Number of Workers

Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Employment trend data to November 2015 and Department of Employment projections to 2020.
YearNumber of Workers
20056900
200610100
20077000
20088000
20098200
20109800
20118000
20126000
20137400
20147900
20154300
20204200

Weekly Earnings

Full-time Earnings

All Jobs Average

Weekly Earnings (before tax)

Source: Based on ABS Characteristics of Employment survey, August 2015, Cat. No. 6333.0, Customised Report. Median earnings are before tax and do not include superannuation. Earnings can vary greatly depending on the skills and experience of the worker and the demands of the role. These figures should be used as a guide only, not to determine a wage rate.
EarningsLife ScientistsAll Jobs Average
Full-Time Earnings16451230

Hours

Weekly Hours Worked

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Hours actually worked by people who usually work full-time, and share of employment by full-time and part-time status, for this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryLife ScientistsAll Jobs Average
Full-time76.968.4
Part-time23.131.6
Average Weekly Hours (full-time)34.540

Main Industries

Top Industries

Main Employing Industries (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
Professional, Scientific and Technical Services32.1
Education and Training19.9
Public Administration and Safety16
Manufacturing12.1
Other Industries19.9

States and Territories

  • NSW

  • VIC

  • QLD

  • SA

  • TAS

  • NT

  • ACT

Employment by State and Territory (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
StateLife ScientistsAll Jobs Average
NSW9.631.8
VIC23.225.5
QLD31.719.8
SA8.16.8
WA1811.2
TAS3.12
NT21.1
ACT4.31.8

Age Profile

Age Profile (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age BracketLife ScientistsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
15-190.2-5.45.4
20-241.2-9.99.9
25-3442.3-23.423.4
35-4426.3-21.721.7
45-5411.8-21.121.1
55-597.4-8.78.7
60-647.5-5.95.9
65 and Over3.2-3.83.8

Gender

Male Share

Female Share

Gender (% share)

Source: Based on ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2016, Cat. No. 6291.0.55.003: Customised Report. Male and female share of employment in this job compared to the all jobs average.
CategoryLife ScientistsCategoryAll Jobs Average
Males38.1Males53.6
Females61.9Females46.4

Education Level

Top Education Levels

Highest Level of Education (% share)

Source: ABS, Education and Work (2016). Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). Skill level requirements can change over time, the qualifications needed by new workers might be different from the qualifications of workers already in the job.
Type of QualificationLife ScientistsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate50.5-8.68.6
Bachelor degree49.5-17.917.9
Advanced Diploma/Diploma0-10.110.1
Certificate III/IV0-18.918.9
Year 120-18.718.7
Years 11 & 100-17.717.7
Below Year 100-8.18.1

A Bachelor Degree or higher is required and nearly all workers have a university degree. Sometimes relevant experience or on-the-job training is also needed.

If you are interested in this style of work, there are a wide range of training options available that could lead to this or a similar job.
The pathway that is right for you will depend on your skills and interests.

It is a good idea to speak to industry bodies, employers, and workers to learn more about the skills and qualifications you will need.

Employers look for Life Scientists who can communicate clearly, work well in a team and have strong interpersonal skills.

Knowledge

The topics, subjects, or knowledge areas workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Biology

    99% Important

    Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.

  2. Chemistry

    81% Important

    Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change. Danger signs and disposal methods.

  3. English Language

    79% Important

    English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  4. Mathematics

    77% Important

    Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

  5. Computers and Electronics

    63% Important

    Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Occupational Information Network Biologists Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

Learn about the daily activities, and physical and social demands faced by workers. Explore the values and work styles that workers rate as most important.

Activities

The work activities workers rate as most important are shown below.

  1. Documenting/Recording Information

    91% Important

    Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

  2. Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge

    89% Important

    Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.

  3. Analyzing Data or Information

    88% Important

    Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.

  4. Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events

    87% Important

    Comparing objects, actions, or events, looking for differences between them or changes over time.

  5. Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Staff

    87% Important

    Giving information to supervisors, co-workers, and staff by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

Occupational Information Network Biologists Opens in a new window
O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration. The information on this site is derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2

go to top