Reproductive biology covers all forms of life on earth, from aardvarks to zebras and everything in between -- including humans. Careers in this field are science-oriented, but the focus could be on cancer research, managing conception and childbirth, solving human infertility problems or helping endangered animals reproduce.
Zoologists, wildlife biologists and veterinarians cover the animal side of reproductive biology. They might perform research studies in the field or laboratory, or -- in the case of veterinarians -- provide direct care to promote conception or manage birth. Zoologists and wildlife biologists need a bachelor’s degree, while veterinarians must complete a doctor of veterinary medicine program. Veterinarians must also be licensed in all states. Jobs for zoologists and wildlife biologists are projected to grow only 5 percent from 2012 to 2022 -- slower than the 11 percent average for all occupations -- according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Demand for veterinarians is projected to grow 12 percent during the same period. Zoologists and wildlife biologists earned a median annual salary of $57,710 in 2012, according to the BLS, while veterinarians earned a median $84,460.
The Science of Medicine
Medical scientists might have a Ph.D., M.D. or D.O., or a medical degree plus a doctorate. Their research is focused on improving human health. In reproductive biology, that might include perfecting invitro fertilization procedures or working on fertility drugs to improve the chances of conception. Other scientists might study diseases related to the reproductive organs, such as cancer of the ovaries. Medical scientists who practice gene therapy or treat patients in clinical trials must have a license to practice medicine. The BLS notes employment for this occupation is expected to increase 13 percent from 2012 to 2022. The median salary was $76,980 in 2012, according to the BLS.
The Baby Business
Although some family practitioners deliver babies, obstetrics and gynecology is the medical specialty focused on human reproduction and female health. Reproductive endocrinology, a subspecialty of OB-GYN, is the medical specialty devoted to human infertility. These physicians follow the typical educational path of college, medical school and residency and must be licensed to practice. OB-GYNs who want to practice reproductive endocrinology go on to a specialty training called a fellowship. The BLS projects faster-than-average growth of 18 percent for physicians and surgeons from 2012 to 2022. OB-GYNS earned an average annual salary of $212,570 in 2013, according to the BLS.
Advanced Nursing Care
Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives are registered nurses who complete a master’s program and are authorized to perform physician duties. Of the 189,000 NPs practicing in the United States in 2014, more than half worked in the three specialties that include reproductive biology: adult medicine, family medicine and women’s medicine. They might perform pelvic exams, prescribe contraceptives and other medications, and manage menopausal symptoms. The BLS notes demand for both professions is projected to be well above average from 2012 to 2022, at 29 percent for nurse midwives and 34 percent for NPs. Median earnings were similar in 2012 -- $89,600 annually for nurse midwives and $89,960 for NPs.