Learn About Careers in Life Sciences

A career in the life sciences can include a broad range of companies, organizations, and foundations concerned with the study of living organisms, including biological sciences, botany, zoology, microbiology, physiology, biochemistry, and a number of related subjects. Employers may include biotechnology & pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, healthcare organizations, foundations, and federal agencies. Most of the information on this page concerns non-patient facing options but there are opportunities to create career paths that merge patient and non-patient settings.


Biotech and Pharmaceuticals

For many biotechnology & pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, healthcare organizations, and related foundations are the first that come to mind.

Two major areas for employment are pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, careers in these areas will be connected to all areas of drug and biotech from discovery and creation through clinical trials and marketing of new therapies and therapeutics. It is important to keep in mind that companies may function in pharmaceuticals and biotech simultaneously. Careers paths within pharmaceuticals can be wide ranging and include a number of companies and organizations. There are also numerous areas of focus in the field of biotechnology. Examples of how and where you may look for experiences in some of the areas mentioned may include: Novartis, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Takeda, Vertex, Kallyope.



Government Organizations are another option in the life sciences. Keep in mind that these large organizations cover very broad areas. Be sure to review for specific there will be specific divisions, departments, programs or projects that most closely align with your interests. A few examples in this area are: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, List of Institutes, Centers and Offices, US Department of Health and Human Services, National Science Foundation, US Department of Energy — National Laboratories.


Conservation and Environmental Science

Zoology, Wildlife Biology, and Environmental Science are another closely related and intriguing group of career pathways that are easy to overlook when thinking about careers in the life sciences. Each has a distinct focus but there is certainly overlap among the grouping. Careers in this area can place you in the field studying animals and their ecology, human interaction with our local environments, or in a lab setting conducting research. Additionally, careers these areas can intersect with policy, law, government, international affairs and more. Some employers in this area may include: The Smithsonian Institution, The International Institute for Sustainable Development, The International Union for Conservation of Nature,  Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Justice.



You can begin a career in the life sciences without an advanced degree but graduate school should be considered to maximize opportunities over your career. Review our graduate school resources to learn about different types of degrees and suggestions on how to start thinking about finding the “right time” to continue your education.

Programs are available through public and private institutions at both the master’s and doctoral levels. Program will vary greatly depending on which sector of the life sciences interests you and your goals with graduate education. Below are a few examples of programs Wellesley alumnae have attended.

When considering graduate education a few simple questions to start with are:

  1. Do the programs of interest have and academic or experiential prerequisites? Have I met them or do I have a plan in place?
  2. Will I learn the skills and techniques needed to advance my career?
  3. WIll I be able to connect to colleagues in my professional area(s) of interest and geographic proximity?
    • Ex: access in a large city vs rural…?


Employment and Internships

You can start your job and internship search with any local, regional, national or international association or organization. Be sure to review the websites of the organizations below and the additional links, as well as The Hive and Handshake for potential internship opportunities. Try searching The Wellesley Hive for companies, job titles, and degree types that may be of interest and reach out to relevant alumnae.