Cell & Molecular Biology Career Options

Look at some of the possible career options available in cell and molecular biology. Learn about salary, education, and work environments for jobs relevant to cell and molecular biology majors. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Overview of Cell And Molecular Biology

Cell and molecular biology is a branch of science that works with life at its smallest and most elemental levels. Cellular biology studies parts of a cell, its internal processes, and how they came to be; molecular biology sets its sights on the proteins, DNA, and other important molecules needed for life to exist and proliferate. The table below introduces facts about three related career possibilities.

Biological Technician Research Scientist (Biochemist) Biological Science University Professor
Degree Required Bachelor's Degree Doctorate degree (Ph.D.) Doctorate degree (Ph.D.)
Education Field of Study Biology or chemistry Cell and molecular biology Cell and molecular biology or biochemistry
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 10% 11% 15%
Median Salary (2017)* $43,800 $91,190 $78,240

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Kind of Careers Exist in Cell and Molecular Biology?

Jobs with a somewhat low barrier of entry into this field include biological technicians, who assist in studies by performing routine lab work, and agricultural scientists, checking quality and ensuring the safety and nutrition of food products. The biotech industry relies heavily on cell and molecular biology, as the study of molecules and cell processes can lead to breakthrough techniques for the development of new and alternative materials, like biodegradable plant-based plastics or biofuels like ethanol. Even those working in positions at biotech firms that don't deal directly with research could benefit from holding a degree in biology.

Positions in which a higher level of education is required include research scientists specializing in cell and molecular biology, who can work for government organizations or businesses, particularly in the medical science field developing new drugs. University professors with graduate degrees in cell and molecular biology will also perform research when not teaching. Even more unusual positions, such as editor of a peer-reviewed scientific journal, or writer of a textbook on biology, are available within the field.

What Level of Education is Needed to Work in Cell and Molecular Biology?

Those positions such as biological technician and food scientist may only require a bachelor's degree, although a master's degree may be preferred and offer greater opportunity for advancement. Most jobs in the field of cell and molecular biology require a doctorate degree, however. Researchers almost exclusively hold Ph.D.s, and those working as professors in a university setting will have at least a master's, and likely will be at least working on their Ph.D.

Where Do Cell and Molecular Biologists Work?

For careers in government and business, many people who study cell and molecular biology will end up working in laboratories collecting data and offices where they review that data. Cell and molecular biology offers little in the way of field work, although duties like gathering samples of unusual organisms or evaluating genetically enhanced crops may be needed in some special cases. Those who opt to become professors will need to give lectures and hold class. Jobs in the healthcare field, such as clinical research or drug development, could also require working in hospitals and clinics.

How Well Are Individuals in the Field of Cell and Molecular Biology Paid?

As you might expect, the pay within the field of cell and molecular biology is heavily correlated with the level of education completed. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that biological technician, a job available to those with bachelor degrees, had a median salary of $43,800 in 2017, and for food and agricultural scientists was $62,910. Doctorate-level research jobs, such as those under the label of biochemist, had a median salary of $91,190. Post-secondary biological science teachers, such as college professors, had a median of $78,240, although their salary can vary significantly depending on the particular institution and the region of the country in which the job is located.

What Other Careers Are Related to Cell and Molecular Biology?

Other types of biologists have much in common with those who study cell and molecular biology, including careers such as astrobiologist or zoologist. A bachelor degree in cell and molecular biology is seen as relevant to a huge number of possible jobs; it could be used when applying for medical schools, dental schools, or even law school, if looking to specialize in patent law or legislation regarding science. With its focus on the micro scale, cell and molecular biology has significant overlap with chemistry, such that it is often considered a part of biochemistry, and careers related to chemistry, such as chemical engineer or materials scientist, may also be appealing.

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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