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Biologists study living organisms in natural (or altered) ecosystems and to manage natural resources. They work in such diverse fields as aquatic biology, marine biology, botany, environmental impact assessment, microbiology, land reclamation and remediation, wildlife management, and zoology.

Also Known As

Botanist, Naturalist, Research Scientist, Zoologist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 2121.1: Biologists

2006 NOC-S

  • C021: Biologists and Related Scientists

2011 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC

  • 2121: Biologists and related scientists

2021 NOC

  • 21110: Biologists and related scientists

2023 OaSIS

  • 21110.01: Biologists
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Some biologists work primarily in the field, organizing and participating in field inventories or surveys. They document species and relevant data for various types of studies, for consulting or environmental impact assessments, or for reclamation and other purposes. Other biologists do laboratory research and offer advice and expertise to others. In general, biologists:

  • Identify and inventory plants and animals or micro-organisms and fungi
  • Organize and carry out field studies to analyze and monitor things like population dynamics, genetics, or habitat
  • Take samples and conduct tests in laboratories
  • Research how organisms develop and function
  • Apply biological principles to advance medicine and health studies
  • Analyze and interpret data and write scientific papers and reports
  • Use statistics and mathematical models for applications, such as estimating the number and kinds of organisms in a specific location, noting trends in population sizes, or understanding molecular and cellular processes
  • Assess harvest rates and sustainable yield for fish and wildlife species
  • Consult with stakeholders and the public to explore resource management options
  • Identify the causes of plant decline
  • Make recommendations for the sustainable development of resources
  • Recommend operating standards for industrial activities to minimize environmental impact
  • Provide information and make presentations to schools, clubs, and interest groups
  • Supervise the work of biological technicians and other staff
  • Present scientific data to the public and stakeholders

Many biologists who do research are also required to teach.

Biologists take on a wide variety of job titles depending on their area of specialization. For example, aquatic biologists may be called fisheries biologists, invertebrate biologists, limnologists, or marine biologists. It all depends on the types of organisms (such as fish or plankton) and habitats (ocean or freshwater) they study.

There are many specialties in each of the following broad areas of study.

Botanists and plant biologists study plants and plant systems, such as plant growth, development, function, distribution, and origin. They may study their applications in medicine, agriculture, and synthesis. They also study related environmental issues such as conservation, re-vegetation, and weed control.

Fisheries biologists study freshwater fish and their habitats.

Marine biologists study bacteria, plankton, plants, and animals that live in oceans and seas and on their shorelines.

Wildlife biologists study wildlife (birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians), wildlife habitat, and environmental interactions, such as the effects of fire. They apply their knowledge to managing wildlife resources and natural habitats.

For information about other areas of study, see the Biochemist, Ecologist, Entomologist, Food Scientist, Geneticist, Microbiologist, Pharmacologist, and Toxicologist occupational profiles.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Strength Required Strength requirements vary

Biologists work in a variety of settings, from offices and laboratories to research ships and remote, rugged terrain. Some work mostly outdoors, collecting and identifying specimens, taking samples, and surveying and documenting populations. Others work in offices, classrooms, and labs. Depending on their specialty, biologists may be away from home for weeks at a time in all kinds of weather.

Physical demands vary. A biologist in the office or laboratory may not have to do any heavy lifting. However, field work can be demanding, such as needing to lift a 50-kilogram net on a rolling ship.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 2121.1

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct ecological and environmental impact studies and to prepare reports, and to develop new practices in biological research


Interest in precision working with instruments and equipment to conduct experiments in plant and animal growth, heredity and breeding


Interest in consulting to advise on issues related to biological processes and research and the development of new products; may supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Biologists need:

  • Initiative and an open-minded approach to interpreting data
  • An interest in nature and an appreciation for all forms of life
  • An aptitude for math and statistics
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Observation and problem-solving skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Stamina for field work
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Critical thinking

They need to be mindful of safety precautions and ethical standards while carrying out their duties. They should enjoy:

  • Synthesizing information
  • Finding innovative solutions to problems
  • Working with equipment and instruments on precision tasks
  • Coordinating and supervising the work of others
  • Working with other scientists

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 35 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 29, 2021 and Jul 18, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Construction Specialization: Team player
Construction Specialization: Accurate
Construction Specialization: Excellent written communication
Attention to detail
Construction Specialization: Excellent oral communication
Tasks: Produce reports
Health benefits: Health care plan
Health benefits: Dental plan
Construction Specialization: Time management
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

A 4-year bachelor of science degree in biology or environmental science is the minimum requirement for entry to this field. A master of science degree is most often required for work as a field biologist, administrator, environmental consultant, professional biologist in industry, or advisor with an international assistance agency. A doctoral (PhD) degree and experience as a post-doctoral fellow are required to work as a researcher or university professor.

Bachelor’s degree programs in environmental studies may not meet the minimum education requirements to become a Professional Biologist (PBiol). Students interested in becoming a PBiol are advised to consult the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists.

Courses in marine science are offered through the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. They may be taken for university credit through the University of Alberta or the University of Calgary.

Students with an interest in a particular specialty should consult a faculty advisor before selecting undergraduate courses.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Ambrose University
St. Mary's University

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 21, 2023
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.


Biologists study living organisms and apply their scientific knowledge in various fields.


Under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf] and Professional Biologists Regulation [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB) to use the Professional Biologist title or the P. Biol. and P Biol initials.

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself a Professional Biologist.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Biologist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Biologists work for:

  • Environmental and engineering consulting firms
  • Chemical, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies
  • Companies in the agriculture, food, natural resource, and utility industries
  • Medical and veterinary research organizations
  • Health and educational institutions
  • Medical laboratories
  • Federal, provincial, and local government departments, and agencies such as Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Post-secondary institutions

Competition for positions can be strong. Related summer, part-time, or volunteer work experience is a valuable asset when looking for permanent employment. A master’s or doctoral degree is a must for research and academic positions.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group, 79.3% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.6% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 44 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 21, 2023

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC: 2121
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $22.00 $55.00 $34.71 $33.00
Overall $24.00 $70.91 $46.17 $46.86
Top $26.00 $101.09 $60.62 $58.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Professional, Scientific & Technical Services
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Environment, Forestry and Related Studies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 21, 2023

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB) website:

ECO Canada – Environmental Careers Organization Canada website:

Fisheries Management Career Paths (Alberta Environment and Parks) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 21, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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