Computational Biologist

Solve medical problems using math equations and computer models.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$39,000 – $102,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Computational Biologists do?

A Computational Biologist believes that the world’s problems—specifically, its medical problems—can be solved primarily with mathematics and machines. While an Astronomer will tell you that the secrets of the universe are in the stars, a Geologist that they’re in the ground, and a Priest that they’re with God, a Computational Biologist will insist that they’re hiding in your computer and your calculator!

As a Computational Biologist, you’re part Computer Scientist, Biologist, Geneticist, Mathematician, Statistician, Chemist, and Physicist. You borrow ideas and knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines with the belief that the right data—plugged into the right models and equations—can answer even the most vexing biological questions.

Employed by pharmaceutical companies, universities, nonprofits, private research institutes, and governments—all of which need Computational Biologists to help them create and test new hypotheses—you can help Doctors discover genetic causes of cancer one day, and Biochemists develop new treatments for Alzheimer’s the next. Always, however, you take the same approach: You develop a theory, collect data, then build databases, mathematical models, and computer simulations with which to analyze and organize your findings.

You’re a lot like a Bioinformatics Scientist, but with one major distinction: While the Bioinformatics Scientist is interested primarily in methods—that is, the software and algorithms used to store data—you’re interested primarily in outcomes: that is, the findings that stored data produce. Bioinformatics Scientists are Engineers, building the biological equivalent of a Magic 8 Ball. You, however, are the Scientist who shakes it up to come up with specific answers to specific questions!

Should I be a Computational Biologist?

You should have a doctoral degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.

  • Also known as: Computational Geneticist

    How to become a Computational Biologist

    We recommend at least a Doctoral degree. Start by getting your Bachelor's. Check out these schools offering Computational Biologist-related education!
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