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 in a related science field is needed to work as a Life Scientist. Many Life Scientists complete postgraduate studies.

    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

    All Life Scientists

    • $1,794 Weekly Pay
    • Moderate Future Growth
    • Average unemployment Unemployment
    • 9,600 workers Employment Size
    • Very high skill Skill level rating
    • 75% Full-Time Full-Time Share
    • 43 hours Average full-time
    • 39 years Average age
    • 53% female Gender Share

    The number of people working as Life Scientists (in their main job) grew very strongly over the past 5 years and is expected to grow over the next 5 years:
    from 9,600 in 2018 to 10,200 by 2023.
    Job openings can come from new jobs being created, but most come from turnover (workers leaving).
    There are likely to be around 5,000 job openings over 5 years (that's about 1,000 a year).

    • Size: This is a small occupation.
    • Unemployment: Unemployment was average in 2018.
    • Location: Life Scientists work in many regions of Australia.
    • Industries: Most work in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services; Education and Training; and Public Administration and Safety.
    • Earnings: Full-time workers on an adult wage earn around $1,794 per week (very high compared to the average of $1,460). Earnings tend to be lower when starting out and higher as experience grows.
    • Full-time: Many work full-time (75%, higher than the average of 66%).
    • Hours: Full-time workers spend around 43 hours per week at work (compared to the average of 44 hours).
    • Age: The average age is 39 years (compared to the average of 40 years).
    • Gender: 53% of workers are female (compared to the average of 48%).

    Employment Outlook

    Number of Workers

    Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, Department of Jobs and Small Business trend data to May 2018 and Department of Jobs and Small Business projections to 2023.
    YearNumber of Workers
    20087500
    20097900
    20108700
    20118600
    20127300
    20137600
    20147900
    20157300
    20166200
    20177800
    20189600
    202310200

    Weekly Earnings

    Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)

    Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours (cat. no. 6306.0), May 2018, Customised Report. Median weekly total cash earnings for full-time non-managerial employees paid at the adult rate. Earnings are before tax and include amounts salary sacrificed. 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 Earnings17941460

    Main Industries

    Main Employing Industries (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Industries are based on the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC 06).
    Main Employing IndustriesIndustry (% share)
    Professional, Scientific and Technical Services31.7
    Education and Training22.2
    Public Administration and Safety14.6
    Health Care and Social Assistance10.4
    Other Industries21.1

    States and Territories

    • NSW

    • VIC

    • QLD

    • SA

    • TAS

    • NT

    • ACT

    Employment by State and Territory (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian States and Territories, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    StateLife ScientistsAll Jobs Average
    NSW21.931.6
    VIC25.225.6
    QLD23.120.0
    SA6.97.0
    WA13.110.8
    TAS3.92.0
    NT1.81.0
    ACT4.01.9

    Age Profile

    Age Profile (% Share)

    Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
    Age BracketLife ScientistsAll Jobs AverageAll Jobs Average
    15-190.2-5.05.0
    20-244.4-9.39.3
    25-3429.4-22.922.9
    35-4429.8-22.022.0
    45-5419.7-21.621.6
    55-597.8-9.09.0
    60-645.1-6.06.0
    65 and Over3.6-4.24.2

    Education Level

    Highest Level of Education (% Share)

    Source: ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Highest qualification completed by workers in this job (in any field of study). 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 Certificate51.3-10.110.1
    Bachelor degree40.1-21.821.8
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma3.5-11.611.6
    Certificate III/IV2.0-21.121.1
    Year 122.5-18.118.1
    Year 110.1-4.84.8
    Year 10 and below0.5-12.512.5

    A bachelor degree in a related science field is needed to work as a Life Scientist. Many Life Scientists complete postgraduate studies.

    Membership with the Australian Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, AusBiotech, the Australasian Systematic Botany Society, the Australian Marine Sciences Association or the Australian Society for Microbiology may be useful.

    Thinking about study or training?

    Before starting a course, check it will provide you with the skills and qualifications you need.

    • Search and compare thousands of higher education courses, and their entry requirements from different institutions across Australia at Course Seeker website.
    • Compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes on the QILT website.

    Or check out related courses on Job Outlook.

    Useful links and resources


    The course listings on this page are provided by Good Education Group.

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

    Filter Skills & Knowledge

    Knowledge

    These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.

    1. Biology

      85% Skill level

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

    2. Mathematics

      72% Skill level

      Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.

    3. Chemistry

      71% Skill level

      Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.

    4. English language

      69% Skill level

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

    5. Computers and electronics

      57% Skill level

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

    Occupational Information Network
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 19-1020.01 - Biologists.

    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.

    Filter Work Environment

    Demands

    The physical and social demands workers face most often are shown below.

    1. Electronic mail

      100% Important

      Use electronic mail.

    2. Indoors, heat controlled

      98% Important

      Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.

    3. Face-to-face discussions

      97% Important

      Talk with people face-to-face.

    4. Telephone

      97% Important

      Talk on the telephone.

    5. Being exact or accurate

      89% Important

      Be very exact or highly accurate.

    Occupational Information Network
    O*NET is a trademark of the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.
    The skills and importance ratings on this page are derived from the US Department of Labor O*NET Database Version 21.2, 19-1020.01 - Biologists.

    go to top