According to the Statutes of the Official College of Biologists (COB) specifying the main professional functions of biologists, the principle areas of professional practice include:
• Health professionals in clinical laboratories, human reproduction centres, public health, nutrition and dietetics, and animal and plant health, among others. By means of official training as Consultant Biologists (Biólogo Interno Residente – BIR), graduates may work in clinical laboratories in the fields of biochemistry, clinical analysis, microbiology and parasitology, immunology, radiopharmacy and pharmacology, and radiophysics. They may also seek careers in other fields concerning human health, such as human reproduction, IVF and other assisted reproduction techniques, and genetic counselling (for which they are almost exclusively competent, due to their wide-ranging training in epigenetics and molecular, human and cancer genetics); and in the agro-food and environmental areas of public health, taking part in all aspects of risk analysis (identification, management and communication).
• Research and development in all applied areas and key advances in experimental and life sciences, working in research centres and in the research and development departments of businesses, industries and hospitals. Biology graduates play an important role in the progress of science and its social and economic repercussions (agriculture, food, biotechnology, animal and plant diversity, animal research, genomics, proteomics, the environment, human health and reproduction, etc.).
• Industry professionals, principally in pharmaceutics, agro-food, cosmetics and chemistry, with responsibilities in technical departments, production and quality control, biochemistry, microbiology, toxicology, physiology, pharmacology and epidemiology, and other scientific perspectives inherent to professional research and development.
• Agriculture professional, optimising current plant, animal and fungus crops and seeking new lines of exploitable live resources. Genetic enhancement via classical methods or genetic engineering, optimising conditions for growth, nutrition and improved reproductive yield are all skills provided by the knowledge acquired on the Degree course. Aspects such as aquaculture and the husbandry of exotic or native species for commercial purposes, and the husbandry of animal, plant, fungus and microbial species for preservation or improvement purposes should also be highlighted.
• The environment, mainly in sectors such as land conservation, management, use and control, management of biological resources – forestry, agricultural, marine, etc., waste management, environmental impact assessment and environmental restoration. Other professional activities include technicians, managers, auditors or consultants in the public sector, businesses or project management firms, the organisation and management of protected natural spaces, gardens and museums, and agricultural, industrial and urban pollution studies. Responsibilities also comprise emitting expert recommendations with regard to sustainability and the planning and rational use of natural resources (COB, 2001).
• Information, documentation and education in museums, natural parks, zoos, botanical gardens, publishing houses, press offices, businesses, scientific foundations, the press and television, as guides, monitors, writers, editors, specialist journalists, publicists, scientific advisors, and science, life and environmental illustrators or photographers.
• Marketing of products and services related to all aspects of biology described in the foregoing paragraphs.
• Business management and organisation, in business environments related to the training of biologists and exercise of the profession.
• Teaching in secondary schools, universities and ongoing and post-graduate professional training, in areas related to scientific knowledge in general and in particular to life sciences and experimental sciences. Biologists also supervise and manage teaching centres, and provide educational consultancy for the dissemination of scientific culture in society(cf. Silgado, 1999).
In addition to these clearly defined professional fields for biologists, recent studies (Michavila & Pérez, 2007) show that in the past decade, UA has seen major growth in graduate employment in sectors such as industry, energy, construction and market services, all fields in which biologists play an increasingly important role.