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Embryologist: Salary and Career Facts

Research what it takes to become an embryologist. Learn about the educational requirements, job duties and potential salaries to find out if this is the career for you.

What is an Embryologist?

Embryology is the study of embryos. This includes the development of gametes, or sex cells, the fertilization process, and the subsequent development through fetalhood up until birth. This study is not limited to human or even mammalian embryos, but includes animals with other fetal development processes, such as flies or turtles. Embryologists perform intricate laboratory procedures to study or even create animal or human embryos. The table below provides some basic information for this career:

Degree Required Bachelor's degree at minimum, though master's or doctoral degree required for some positions
Education Field of Study Biology, human physiology or animal science
Key Skills Responsibilities Perform in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, cryopreservation of embryos and embryonic transfer, scientific research
Job Growth (2018-2028) 6% growth (for all biological scientists)*
Median Salary (2018) $79,590 (for biological scientists, excluding biochemists, biophysicists, microbiologists, zoologists, and wildlife biologists)*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need for a Career as an Embryologist?

A bachelor's degree in biology, human physiology or animal science could get you started a career in embryology. Courses that cover animal or human embryonic development might be especially helpful to you. A master's or doctoral degree in a life science could help you improve your career advancement opportunities. If you're pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree, programs in biology, molecular cell biology or animal science include significant laboratory work and research in developmental biology or embryology.

What Jobs Can I Apply For?

Based on your academic background, you could qualify for animal embryologist positions at university research labs. Alternately, you could work for facilities that apply assisted reproductive technology to the field of animal breeding, where you might assist in the reproduction of livestock or zoo animals. If you'd like to work with human embryos, you could apply for clinical embryologist positions at fertility clinics. With a doctoral degree, you might consider becoming a professor at a research university that provides you with resources to conduct embryonic studies.

What Might My Job Duties Be?

As an animal embryologist in a research lab, you might perform in vitro fertilization of animal ova, work with transgenic animals or prepare animal embryos for research purposes. In an animal breeding facility, you could expect to perform in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, cryopreservation of embryos and embryonic transfer.

If you choose to work as a clinical embryologist at a fertility clinic, you'd likely be responsible for egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization procedures for human embryos, including intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where sperm is injected into an egg. You'll assess embryo quality, prepare embryos for transfer into the patient and cryopreserve any embryos that were not selected for transfer.

What Salary Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biological scientists not in a major field (see table above) earned a median salary of $79,590 as of 2018. The two largest employers were the U.S. government and professional, scientific, and technical services.

What Are Some Alternative Related Careers?

Like embryologists, microbiologists study very small organisms. There are a number of specialties within microbiology for certain types of organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These different specialties all come with different titles: bacteriologists, virologists, mycologists, and parasitologists, respectively. Microbiologists typically need a bachelor's degree in microbiology or biology to find work, and a Ph.D. to conduct independent research and work at universities.