AIBU to think DS will have a harder time getting a job if he does a degree that isn't very specific?(18 Posts)
DS has accepted a biology offer. He loves ecology, animals and biomed science and just can't decide at this stage what he specifically wants to do. He can pick later on in the degree specific modules that are for each.
However he has looked at some graduate jobs and found that they all ask for specific degrees. If it's ecology related, it needs to be an ecology degree. If it's animal related, it needs to be animal care related. If it's NHS related, in needs to be a biomedical degree.
Has he made a big mistake?
My personal experience has been that it is harder to get a job without a specific degree. Many of my university friends that did degrees in physiotherapy or occupational therapy for example got jobs in those fields straight away. But they result in a qualification at the end, which I think is the major factor. If your DS can't decide yet, and understandably he might not want to make a decision until he has done some more study, is there the possibility of a masters (or equivalent) in a more specific area to address the issue of a specific degree for a certain role?
I think he'll be able to call his degree something suitable once he's done first year and focused in on one area.
E.g call it a "Degree in biology with biomedical focus" and then list the modules in reverse order.
Year 3: Pathology, advanced human physiology, medical research methodology
Year 2: yada yada yada
Year 1: biomedical science, physiology, ecology
If it's a rigorous degree then he'll be fine.
My degree doesn't even technically have a name, so I just describe the modules I did.
Cant answer about the others but to work in ecology, a degree in biology, ecology, plant sciences, environmental science, conservation or zoology, or any combination of these would be fine.
And yes, a degree in any of the above could involve modules in all sorts of things - genetics, physiology, taxonomy etc etc
The flip side is that a really specific degree can reduce the career options available after university. If he went for a biomedical degree, for example, but found he really didn't enjoy it as an area to work in, he might find it harder to move into another area than if he had a more general degree.
Biology is a good, solidly academic subject, and if he enjoys it, he is going to find it easier to motivate himself to do the work and he'll probably do better.
Does he have any idea of which jobs he's interested in afterwards? Maybe you should put out another post asking biology graduates what job fields they've gone into and ask their opinion on whether a specific degree would have been better.
Although that will take your ds knowing which field he wants to work in right now, which is tough.
could he find out which jobs in the NHS would take a biology graduate?
There are also pharmaceutical companies who have related roles for biology graduates.
Could he take options within the course to specialise as he's going along?
Personally i'd always say do biochemistry if you can't decide.
Foundation for most science- human, animal, plant, down to single cell.
Look for a degree that starts broad and allows you to focus later. I started with "biology", but the modules i chose meant i came out with a biochemistry degree.
You can do law after a biology degree. I know plenty of scientists who become lawyers. You just do (currently) a one year conversion course after your original degree unlike those with law degrees who do not do that extra year.
I don't think he needs to worry. If he wants to do something quite niche - like ecology - I imagine they would expect him to have a masters in that subject. If he wants to do something quite general - law, accounting, consultancy - then having a biology degree is no problem at all.
My suspicion is that often the very niche sounding courses are at less good universities. Biology is reputable and if it's at a reputable institution too, he'll be fine, and perhaps given preference over someone with a more specifically targeted, but ultimately less challenging/prestigious, degree.
I should think he will be fine doing biology - as long as it's at a reputable university. As PPs have said, it's a solid academic subject that will allow him to do a variety of different things afterwards. And as has also been said, he will be able to specialise to some extent through the modules he chooses and/ or through postgraduate study. If there is a choice of 3 or 4 year courses, the 4 year M.Sci or equivalent can be better thought of for those wanting to go into academia or a scientific career and allow students to do a final year research project or work in industry.
For context, I studied chemistry at a Russell group uni (4 year M.Chem), then did a Ph.D in biological chemistry, and am now an accountant at a Big 4 firm having decided the academic life wasn't for me in the end. Good solid STEM subjects like chemistry, biology, maths, engineering and so on are great foundations for a lot of competitive graduate jobs.
My dad was a forensic scientist before he retired, which I wanted to do too (until the government closed the FSS, but that's another issue) and he always advised me that a 'pure' science subject from a top uni was a much better foundation for this than specialist forensic courses which are often not that good and tend to be offered at less prestigious universities. He himself had done a B.Sc in biology and a Ph.D in botany.
Echo the point that doing a proper academic degree at a good university is generally the best bet
The danger with a vocational degree is finding that by the end you dont have that vocation any more.
With any vocational degree there is a strong risk that the jobs market for that career will have changed hugely by the time the student finishes their degree. A more academic, less vocational degree from a good uni leaves all the career doors still open.
Well it depends. For instance if you want to work in Forensic Science they'd rather you had a good biology degree than a Forensic Science degree.
Sorry cross post with captainwentworth
I have both a solid academic degree (chemistry) and a vocational one ( nursing) from RG Uni's.
I have found that the nursing one is more transferable to things outside of nursing and easy to get jobs with.
To use an academic subject you end up retraining - lots who do biology do nursing, law, accountancy etc.
My DDs BF tried for accountancy with a academic degree from Cambridge. He found he was up against lots with accountancy degrees and was rather disadvantaged due to his initial choice.
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