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Biologist vs. Doctor: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Biologists and doctors are both professionals with a passion for science and helping others. Though they share some qualities, their careers differ in many ways. If you’re interested in working in biology or medicine, learning more about each field and what you may earn can be beneficial. In this article, we explain what biologists and doctors are, provide a list of differences between the two and review helpful tips you can use when choosing a profession.

What is a Biologist?

Biologists conduct research on living organisms and their relationship to their environment. They collect plant, animal and microorganism samples and study the physical characteristics of these samples. Biologists use their findings to develop new theories or to support existing ones. They may also work on developing new ways to control or eliminate plant and animal pests. Biologists typically work in laboratories or offices, but they may also spend time in the field conducting research. Some Biologists work in government agencies, while others work for colleges and universities, private companies or non-profit organizations.

What is a Doctor?

Doctors are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients for a variety of medical conditions. They must have a deep understanding of human anatomy and physiology in order to identify and treat illnesses. Doctors use a variety of diagnostic tools, such as X-rays and blood tests, to determine the cause of a patient’s symptoms. Once a diagnosis is made, doctors develop a treatment plan and prescribe medication if necessary. Doctors also provide preventative care and counsel patients on lifestyle choices that can impact their health.

Biologist vs. Doctor

Here are the main differences between a biologist and a doctor.

Job Duties

Doctors have a wide range of responsibilities, depending on their specialty and the needs of their patients. For example, an obstetrician performs a C-section to deliver a baby. An emergency room doctor treats a patient with a gunshot wound. A cardiologist conducts a heart transplant.

Biologists conduct research in laboratories. They may study animals or plants to learn more about their species. Their work can help biologists understand how organisms function within their environments. These professionals may also educate others about what they’ve discovered.

Job Requirements

Biologists typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in biology or another related field to enter the workforce. Some biologists also pursue a master’s degree or doctorate, which can take two to four years to earn. These programs often include coursework on topics like ecology, evolution and animal behavior. Biologists might also take classes on specific areas of interest, such as marine biology or plant science.

Doctors must first obtain a bachelor’s degree before attending medical school. Once they have earned their Medical Doctor degree, doctors must participate in a residency program to complete their training, which could take several years. Finally, doctors must obtain licensure from the state they plan to practice and pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination.

Work Environment

Doctors work in a variety of environments, including hospitals, clinics and private practices. They may also travel to different locations to provide care for patients. Biologists typically work in laboratories or research facilities where they can perform experiments and analyze data. Some biologists work as professors at colleges or universities, while others work for government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Both biologists and doctors use critical thinking skills to solve problems. For biologists, this may involve designing experiments to test a hypothesis or analyzing data to find trends. For doctors, this may involve diagnosing a patient’s illness or developing a treatment plan.

Both biologists and doctors need to have excellent communication skills. Biologists often work in team settings and need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly to colleagues. Doctors need to be able to explain medical concepts to patients and their families. They also need to be able to listen to patients describe their symptoms.

Both biologists and doctors benefit from having strong research skills. Biologists use research skills when they are conducting experiments or studying data. Doctors use research skills when they are looking for information about a new disease or trying to find the most effective treatment for a patient.


Biologists can earn an average salary of $65,472 per year, while doctors can earn an average salary of $171,908 per year. The average salary for both professions can vary depending on the type of work you do, your location and your level of experience.


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