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.
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
JSA produces employment projections to show where likely future job opportunities may be. The latest data are for the five years from November 2021 to November 2026. Over this period, the number of workers:
- is expected to grow moderately
- is likely to reach 12,100 by 2026.
Source: Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Notes: The number employed includes people who work in this occupation as their main job. People who work in more than one job are counted against the occupation they work the most hours in.
Employment projections figures are rounded to the nearest 100. Calculations based on these rounded figures may result in differences to the numbers that are displayed on this page. Employment projections data (including occupations) can be downloaded from the Employment Projections page.
Number of Workers
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, ABS seasonally adjusted data to November 2021 and Jobs and Skills Australia Employment Projections to 2026.
Earnings and hours
Around 75% of people employed as Life Scientists work full-time hours, in all their jobs combined. This is 9 percentage points above the all jobs average (66%).
Full-time workers work an average of 43 hours per week in their main job. This is similar to the all jobs average (44 hours per week).
More than a third of workers regularly work overtime or extra hours (either paid or unpaid).
Median full-time earnings are $2,016 per week, this is much higher than the all jobs median ($1,593):
- 3 in 4 workers earn more than $1,546
- 1 in 4 earn more than $2,525
Median hourly earnings are $51, this is more than the all jobs median ($41 per hour).
Sources: Full-time share and full-time hours: ABS, 2016 Census, customised report. Compared to the all jobs average. Overtime hours: ABS, Characteristics of Employment, 2021. Full-time median earnings and median hourly earnings: ABS, Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021. Compared to all jobs median.
Weekly Earnings (Before Tax)
|Earnings||Life Scientists||All Jobs Average|
Source: Based on ABS Survey of Employee Earnings and Hours, May 2021, 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.
Life Scientists work in industries like:
- Professional, scientific and technical services
- Education and training
- Health care and social assistance.
Source: ABS Labour Force Survey, annual average 2021.
Employment across Australia
Employment by State and Territory (% Share)
|State||Life Scientists||All Jobs Average|
Around 75% of Life Scientists live in capital cities, compared with the all jobs average of 62%.
Queensland has a large share of employment relative to its population size.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Share of workers across Australian states, territories and regions, in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Age and gender
The median age of Life Scientists is 39 years. This is similar to the all jobs average of 40 years.
A large share of workers are aged 35 to 44 years.
Females make up 53% of the workforce. This is 5 percentage points above the all jobs average of 48%.
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile and gender share compared to the all jobs average.
Age Profile (% Share)
|Age Bracket||Life Scientists||All Jobs Average|
|65 and Over||3.6||4.2|
Source: Based on ABS Census 2016, Customised Report. Age profile of workers in this job compared to the all jobs average.
Education, training and experience
A bachelor degree in a related science field is needed to work as a Life Scientist. Many workers have a postgraduate qualification.
- Course Seeker to search and compare higher education courses.
- ComparED to compare undergraduate and postgraduate student experiences and outcomes.
Highest Level of Education (% Share)
|Type of Qualification||Life Scientists||All Jobs Average|
|Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate||51.3||10.1|
|Year 10 and below||0.5||12.5|
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.
Skills and Knowledge
Employers look for Life Scientists who can communicate clearly, work well in a team and have strong interpersonal skills.
Skills can be improved through training or experience.
Reading work related information.
Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Writing things for co-workers or customers.
Being able to use what you have learnt to solve problems now and again in the future.
Talking to others.
Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
61%Complex problem solving
Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
Using maths to solve problems.
Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
57%Judgment and decision making
Figuring out the pros and cons of different options and choosing the best one.
Keeping track of how well work is progressing so you can make changes or improvements.
Managing your own and other peoples' time to get work done.
Teaching people how to do something.
Writing computer programs.
48%Management of personnel resources
Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, and choosing the best people for the job.
Understanding why people react the way they do.
48%Coordination with others
Being adaptable and coordinating work with other people.
Figuring out the best way to teach or learn something new.
Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect it.
Talking people into changing their minds or their behaviour.
These are important topics, subjects or knowledge areas.
Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, how they rely on and work with each other and the environment.
Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, or statistics.
Chemical composition, structure, and properties. How chemicals are made, used, mixed, and can change.
English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
57%Computers and electronics
Circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
The physical laws of matter, motion and energy, and how they interact through space and time.
52%Engineering and technology
Use engineering, science and technology to design and produce goods and services.
51%Administration and management
Business principles involved in strategic planning, leadership, and coordinating people and resources.
Word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and other office work.
45%Customer and personal service
Understanding customer needs, providing good quality service, and measuring customer satisfaction.
42%Personnel and human resources
Recruiting and training people, managing pay and other entitlements (like sick leave), and negotiating pay and conditions.
41%Education and training
Curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
35%Law and government
How our laws and courts work. Government rules and regulations, and the political system.
Describing land, sea, and air, including their physical characteristics, locations, how they work together, and the location of plant, animal, and human life.
Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
28%Communications and media
Media production, communication, and dissemination. Includes written, spoken, and visual media.
28%Public safety and security
Use of equipment, rules and ideas to protect people, data, property, and institutions.
24%Production and processing
Raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and ways of making and distributing goods.
17%Economics and accounting
Economics and accounting, the financial markets, banking and checking and reporting of financial data.
Transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Workers use these physical and mental abilities..
Communicate by speaking.
Listen to and understand what people say.
Read and understand written information.
Use lots of detailed information to come up with answers or make general rules.
Write in a way that people can understand.
Come up with different ways of grouping things.
Use general rules to find answers or solve problems logically.
Notice when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong, even if you can't solve the problem.
57%Sorting or ordering
Order or arrange things in a pattern or sequence (e.g., numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
See details that are up-close (within a few feet).
Come up with a number of ideas about a topic, even if the ideas aren't very good.
Choose the right maths method or formula to solve a problem.
Come up with unusual or clever ideas, or creative ways to solve a problem.
See details that are far away.
54%Flexibility of closure
See a pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) hidden in other distracting material.
Speak clearly so others can understand you.
Identify and understand the speech of another person.
45%Working with numbers
Add, subtract, multiply, or divide.
Pay attention to something without being distracted.
Remember things like words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
These are kinds of activities workers regularly do in this job.
85%Keeping your knowledge up-to-date
Keeping up-to-date with technology and new ideas.
82%Collecting and organising information
Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or checking information or data.
80%Making sense of information and ideas
Looking at, working with, and understanding data or information.
75%Looking for changes over time
Comparing objects, actions, or events. Looking for differences between them or changes over time.
75%Researching and investigating
Looking for, getting and understanding different kinds of information.
Using your own ideas for developing, designing, or creating something new.
69%Communicating within a team
Giving information to co-workers by telephone, in writing, or in person.
67%Communicating with the public
Giving information to the public, business or government by telephone, in writing, or in person.
65%Planning and prioritising work
Deciding on goals and putting together a detailed plan to get the work done.
65%Monitoring people, processes and things
Checking objects, actions, or events, and keeping an eye out for problems.
64%Documenting or recording information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
64%Making decisions and solving problems
Using information to work out the best solution and solve problems.
61%Building good relationships
Building good working relationships and keeping them over time.
58%Working with computers
Using computers to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
55%Coming up with systems and processes
Deciding on goals and figuring out what you need to do to achieve them.
55%Assessing and evaluating things
Working out the value, importance, or quality of things, services or people.
54%Explaining things to people
Helping people to understand and use information.
52%Estimating amounts, costs and resources
Working out sizes, distances, amounts, time, costs, resources, or materials needed for a task.
48%Scheduling work and activities
Working out the timing of events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
46%Checking compliance with standards
Deciding whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Interests and demands
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.
Interests are the style or type of work we prefer to do. All interest areas are shown below.
Ideas and thinking. Searching for facts and figuring out problems in your head.
Practical, hands-on work. Often with plants and animals, or materials like wood, tools, and machinery.
Following set procedures and routines. Working with numbers and details more than with ideas, usually following rules.
Starting up and carrying out projects. Leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes require risk taking and often deal with business.
Working with forms, designs and patterns. Often need self-expression and can be done without following rules.
Working with people. Helping or providing service to others.
Results oriented. Workers are able to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.
Advancement and the potential to lead. Workers are recognised for the work that they do, they may give directions and instructions to others, and they are looked up to in their company and their community.
Work alone and make decisions. Workers are able to try out their own ideas, make decisions on their own, and work with little or no supervision.
Serve and work with others. Workers usually get along well with each other, do things to help other people, and are rarely pressured to do things that go against their sense of right and wrong.
Job security and good working conditions. There is usually a steady flow of interesting work, and the pay and conditions are generally good.
Supportive management that stands behind employees. Workers are treated fairly by their company, they are supported by management, and have supervisors who train them well.
Use electronic mail.
98%Indoors, heat controlled
Work indoors with access to heating or cooling.
Talk with people face-to-face.
Talk on the telephone.
89%Being exact or accurate
Be very exact or highly accurate.
89%Contact with people
Have contact with people by telephone, face-to-face, or any other way.
Work with people in a group or team.
84%Freedom to make decisions
Have freedom to make decision on your own.
Have freedom to decide on tasks, priorities, and goals.
Work to strict deadlines.
77%Lead or coordinate a team
Lead others to do work activities.
74%Spend time sitting
Spend time sitting at work.
72%Wear common protective or safety equipment
Wear equipment like safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hard hats or life jackets.
72%Letters and memos
Write letters and memos.
Compete with others, or be aware of competitive pressures.
66%Repeating same tasks
Repeat the same tasks or activities (e.g., key entry) over and over, without stopping.
66%Responsible for outcomes
Take responsibility for the results of other people's work.
63%Frequent decision making
Frequently make decisions that impact other people.
63%Impact of decisions
Make decisions that have a large impact on other people.
Work near dangers like high voltage electricity, flammable material, explosives or chemicals.
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.
Links and downloads
Research and reports
The Skills Priority List provides a current labour market rating and a future demand rating for nearly 800 occupations nationally. Current labour market ratings are available for occupations at a state and territory level.
Occupation profiles data are available for download.
The Employment Projections are available for download.