Biology Instructor Jobs: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for a biology instructor. Get the facts about education requirements, salary and potential job growth to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Biology Instructor?

Biology instructors teach students the foundations of biology, a natural science focused on the study of life and living organisms. Instructors work at different academic levels, and those teaching in postsecondary institutions may also teach courses on different branches of biology such as biochemistry, genetics or microbiology. Biology professors at the postsecondary level also typically conduct original research at their institution and oversee the work of several graduate students. High school teachers may teach other science courses in addition to biology, and must help prepare their students for life after graduation. High school teachers must also communicate with parents and help supervise high school students throughout the day. The following chart is an overview of some of the job options for biology instructors.

College Biology ProfessorHigh School Biology Teacher
Degree required Doctoral degree Bachelor's degree, Master's degree for some jobs
Education Field of Study Biology, Molecular biology, Biochemistry Biology, Secondary school science
Training and Experience Research experience helpful Student teaching required for mandatory state license or certification
Median Salary (2015) $75,320*$57,200*
Job Growth (2014-2024)16% (for all post-secondary biological science teachers)* 6% (for all high school teachers)*

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Duties of a Biology Instructor?

Your duties as a biology instructor depend on whether you choose to teach at the high school or college level, or if you'd like to provide instructional training outside of a school setting. In both secondary and postsecondary schools, you'll be responsible for managing a classroom, expressing complicated ideas with clarity, preparing student evaluations and working with school administration. In a high school, you'll typically offer general biology instruction. As a college or university professor, you might be able to conduct independent, funded research while offering education in a specific biological discipline. You could also choose to work at a museum, community learning center or career training institution, educating children and adults on introductory and advanced biology topics.

What Education Do I Need?

To become a biology instructor, you'll usually need to earn at least a bachelor's degree in biology or a related science. Several universities offer general biology majors, as well as concentrations in specific areas, such as molecular biology, biology education or ecology. A few courses you might take include evolution, genetics, cell biology, microbiology and neuroscience.

You'll need to attain your teaching license in order to teach at a public high school, though the requirements vary from state to state. Generally, you'll need a minimum of a bachelor's degree in biology and educational training with teaching experience. To teach at a community college, you might only need to earn a master's degree in the field and have a teaching background. However, most colleges and universities require a doctoral degree for biology professor positions. You won't need licensure as a college or university instructor or to teach at a private secondary school.

What Is the Job Market Like?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the number of jobs was anticipated to grow for high school instructors, including biology teachers, by six percent from 2014-2024, adding approximately 55,900 jobs (www.bls.gov). Postsecondary biology teaching positions were projected to increase 16%, boosting employment in the field by 10,400 jobs.

How Much Can I Earn?

Your experience and location affect your earnings potential. According to January 2017 salary statistics offered by PayScale.com, all high school teachers earned median incomes of $47,687 per year. Higher-paid teachers worked in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boston per the salary website's data.

The BLS specified earnings for biology professors as of May 2015, stating that the median salary was $75,320 per year. States with the greatest wages included Hawaii, North Dakota and New Hampshire, each reporting average salaries over $105,000.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Career and technical education teachers are some related positions that require a bachelor's degree. These teachers focus on teaching students a specific skill or focus on a particular subject to prepare for a career. For example, those who teach natural resources or subjects in agriculture may teach classes on veterinary science, food systems, plants and other science-related subjects. Biochemists and biophysicists are more similar to college biology professors and require a doctoral or professional degree. These scientists typically work in a laboratory setting to study how biological processes work. They examine living things at the chemical levels to study things like disease and cell development.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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