Home page

Life Scientists


The military conducts studies of human and animal diseases to understand their causes and to find treatments. Harmful pests and bacteria are studied to find ways to protect people and food against illness or infection. Life scientists study the biology and chemistry of living organisms.

What They Do

Life scientists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:

Physical Demands

No information available.

Special Requirements

A four-year college degree is normally required to enter this career. Some specialties require a master's degree or medical degree.

Helpful Attributes

Helpful attributes include:

Helpful School Subjects

No information available.

Helpful Fields of Study

Helpful fields of study include:

Work Environment

Most life scientists work in medical, clinical, and research laboratories. Some work in food processing or storage plants. They may work outdoors while conducting field work on land or aboard ships.

Services offering this career:

Hiring Practices

To serve in the military, a person must be at least 17; the maximum age for enlistment varies. To enlist, a person must pass a physical exam and an aptitude test. An enlistee must also meet military standards of discipline and be a US citizen or permanent resident alien.

This position is for officers.


The military is competitive with the civilian world when it comes to pay and benefits. All branches offer the same basic pay and benefits.

Pay depends mainly on rank or grade as well as length of service. Bonuses and the situation in which the person is serving (for example: flight duty, sea duty, hazardous duty) also affect pay. 

Cost-of-living increases usually occur every year, based on inflation. The military also pays allowances for food, clothing, and housing. All these factors combined are called Regular Military Compensation (RMC). They should all be considered when comparing military pay to civilian pay.

There are two main parts to RMC: basic pay and allowances. There are also additional incentives for special abilities, training, or hazardous duty.

Check out the RMC Calculator to calculate your RMC based on your inputs.

Training Provided

No initial job training is provided to officers in this career. However, advanced courses are available in some specialties.

Civilian Counterparts

Civilian life scientists work for universities, government agencies, medical laboratories, blood banks, pharmaceutical firms, chemical companies, or in private practice. They perform duties similar to those performed by military life scientists. Depending on their specialty, civilian life scientists may be called biochemists, biologists, entomologists, immunologists, medical technologists, pharmacologists, physiologists, toxicologists, or veterinarians.

Related Civilian Careers

Employment and Outlook

In peace time the services have about 1,500 life scientists. In times of military action the number may be different, depending on the type of specialties required. Each year the services need new scientists due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. Newly commissioned life scientists are normally assigned to a laboratory, where they conduct research under the direction of more experienced scientists. In time, they may manage their own research projects and direct other officers. Eventually, they may become directors of research laboratories or hold other senior management positions in the health research field.