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Online Biology Instructor: Career Information and Requirements

Online biology instructors require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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Essential Information

Online instructors in biology share similar duties as instructors who teach on-site classes. Using an online learning platform, these instructors teach courses in the subject area of biology. Instruction areas include evolutionary science, genetics, botany, zoology and other relevant topics.

Teaching techniques include assignments, lectures and moderated peer discussions. In postsecondary schools, the educational requirements for becoming an online instructor are similar to those who teach on-site. Higher-learning institutions require instructors to hold a minimum of a master's degree in a subject area. Four-year institutions generally require full-time instructors to hold a doctorate-level degree.

Career Online Biology Instructor
Education Requirements Master's degree
Job Growth 19% from 2012-22*
Median Salary (2013)$87,080 annually*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS reports that the employment of university and college biology instructors, which includes online instructors, is expected to increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022. This job growth rate is about the same as the average for all careers within the U.S. The BLS also reports that as of May 2013 the average salary of postsecondary biological science teachers was $87,080 per year (

Online Adaptations

According to the BLS, educators must often adapt to the concept of teaching distance-learning courses. Many colleges and universities offer online classes for enhanced flexibility and require faculty to teach some online courses. It can take much additional time to convert an existing course plan into one which will work using the Internet as a teaching medium. Educators must plan for no in-person contact with students and thus prepare to spend time answering e-mails and finding ways to use the online learning platform to benefit students. According to the U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net online occupational database, biology instructors are often responsible for setting up laboratory work to supplement courses ( Adapting this type of work to an online setting can be particularly difficult.


Many postsecondary educators, especially those in the sciences such as biology, conduct research and publish their findings. O*Net lists continuing education in ever-changing scientific areas and collaboration with colleagues to pursue this education as a job task for biology instructors. The BLS states that many of these instructors complain about the additional time requirements of teaching online courses. Instructors say they subtract from the time they have to do research and collaborate, thus stunting their abilities to advance in their careers (

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