Biology Instructor: Job Description and Education Requirements

Biology instructors require a significant amount of formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and required credentials to see if this is the right career for you.

Biology instructors at the high school level require a bachelor's degree, while those teaching at the college level require a master's degree. Public high school teachers also require a license from the state. The job growth outlook for high school teachers is about average, while that for college instructors is much faster than average.

Essential Information

Biology instructors prepare students for careers in health and science by offering both basic and advanced courses in human and animal biology, as well as the life sciences. Preparation for a career as a biology instructor includes earning a bachelor's or master's degree in education, biology or another related science field and then gaining the appropriate state-issued credentials to teach.

Required Education Bachelor of science in biology, natural science or education. Masters degree is required to teach at college level
Other Requirements Teaching certification as required by the state
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 13% (postsecondary teachers)*
Median Salary(2015) $75,320 (biological science teachers, postsecondary)*

Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Biology Instructor Job Description

Biology instructors administer science courses for high school or college students. High school lessons typically consist of basic human biology themes; college courses may tackle general and advanced concepts regarding human and animal biology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology and biostatistics.

Biology instructors typically prepare course curricula, create course materials, deliver lectures and proctor exams. They may also assist students with conducting laboratory experiments, grade assignments, prepare final grade reports, serve as student advisors and manage a biology or science department.

The Board of Education for each state provides basic guidelines and licensing requirements that biology instructors must meet to receive teaching certification. These may include showing proof of educational transcripts, completing a credentialing program, demonstrating basic teaching skills and proving proficiency in biology.

Education Requirements

Upon graduation from high school, aspiring biology instructors may pursue a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Natural Science or Education (the latter with an emphasis in one of the biological sciences). Coursework may address animal and plant diversity, biology teaching techniques, organic chemistry, genetics and biochemistry.

Candidates holding a science degree (or another non-education degree) may need to take additional courses in education to qualify for teaching credentials. High school teachers may teach while holding a bachelor's degree. At the college level, a master's degree is generally required. Many instructors choose to complete doctoral degree programs to become professors in their chosen field.

As part of their educational process, prospective instructors are often required to participate in internships, working while being supervised by experienced educators for a period of 1-2 years. Some portion of that internship may be spent observing a classroom setting and assisting in science labs; this practical exposure prepares upcoming biology instructors to manage their own classroom and prepare a syllabus.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides statistics and information for high school and postsecondary teachers, with specific information for some types of teachers. The BLS states that during the 2014-2024 decade, job opportunities for high school teachers in general are expected to increase by 6%, which is about average for U.S. occupations. However, with increasing enrollment and a decline in student-teacher ratios, job openings will continue. Employment growth is expected to be fastest in the South and West regions of the country. In May 2015, the BLS reported that high school teachers earned a median salary of $57,200.

For postsecondary teachers in general, 13% job growth is expected during the 2014-2024 decade. This is faster than the average for all occupations and will be largely due to a continuing increase in college and university enrollment. Biology science teachers at the college level earned a median salary of $75,320 as of May 2015.

Biology instructors teach students the science of living things. They can teach at the high school or college level. Those teaching at the high school level have a median annual salary around $57,000 while those at the college level are around $75,000.


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