Cell Biology Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in cell biology. Read on to learn more about career options along with education and salary information. Schools offering Anatomy & Physiology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Cellular Biologist?

Cellular biologists study the structure and behavior of cells to determine causes and solutions to mysteries surrounding living organisms. Those educated in this field have many job options depending on the level of degree they earn. Some may choose to become biological scientists, studying cells to meet particular objectives, and performing tasks such as clinical research, genetic testing, drug manufacturing, and more. Others become research assistants, helping scientists with their work by performing supervised tests on cells and reporting the findings to their superiors. Some work in academia (most commonly at the high school or college levels) teaching students about cellular biology and related sciences, assessing learning progress regularly with exams.

The table below provides some basic information for different career options:

Scientist Research Assistant Science Educator
Degree Required Bachelor's degree for entry-level Bachelor's degree for entry-level Bachelor's for entry level; Master's or doctorate required for postsecondary teaching
Education Field of Study Botanical and animal biology Botanical and animal biology Biology, education
Job Growth (2014-24) 8%* 5% (for biological technicians)* 6% (for high school teachers)*, 16% (for postsecondary biological science teachers)*
Average Salary (2015) $77,190* $45,230 (for biological technicians)* $60,440 (for high school teachers)*, $86,830 (for postsecondary biological science teachers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Will I Need For a Career in Cell Biology?

Preparation for a career in cell biology begins with high school courses in chemistry, trigonometry, physics, and biology. You'll need at least a bachelor's degree in biology, developmental biology, or a related biological science to enter the field as a research assistant, educator, or scientist. College-level coursework teaches you botanical and animal biology, cellular and molecular behaviors, ecology, and genetics.

Advanced research or teaching at the postsecondary level requires a doctoral degree in cellular or molecular biology. Obtaining your Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree usually takes about 5-7 years. A graduate-level cellular biology program allows you to focus your studies and select from courses in neurobiology, cancer and cell growth, stem cell biology, human genetics, and genome science.

What Are My Job Options?

Specialized training may be required, but your advanced degree qualifies you to work as a cell culture specialist, clinical researcher, geneticist, embryologist, or biochemist. If you choose to work in a medical specialty, you'll need additional medical training to become a physician, veterinarian, hospital administrator, or physical therapist. Other career options include botanist, pharmaceutical researcher, academic professor, or biotechnologist. With an undergraduate degree, you'll be able to teach at the elementary and secondary levels or assist scientists with cell biology research.

As a researcher, you'll be able to apply your knowledge and investigative skills across several disciplines. You might choose to focus on pathology or genetics to find origins and cures for animal, human, or plant diseases. You can also examine developmental theories, regenerative abilities, and genetic evolution of living organisms.

What Salary Could I Expect to Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), biological scientists who worked in the field of scientific research and development earned an average annual salary of $77,190 in 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS stated that biological technicians made an average salary of $45,230 and educators made $60,440 to $86,830, depending on the grade level they were teaching. Cell researchers and scientists located around the Washington D.C. area reported the highest earnings by location at approximately $106,320.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A science related profession you could pursue is as an epidemiologist. These are master's-educated scientists who study the spread and occurrences of disease and injury, attempting to find patterns and improve response and treatment. Their job will often involve studying and experimenting with different kinds of microscopic and single celled organisms.

Another career is as a microbiologist. They study all forms of microscopic life, including cells, examining how they live and grow in their environments. They must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in order to find work.

For those seeking an education related career, you could find work as an education administrator, such as a principal or dean. They oversee the faculty and academic curriculums of a school. Many teachers and professors can enter this position as part of their career plan, but those with a master's or doctorate can likely be hired as is without prior teaching experience at the school.

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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