Depending on whether you're interested in teaching dental biology or doing research in the field, you'll need either a master's degree or a doctorate. This is predicated on whether you teach at a community college or a university. You may also have the opportunity to maintain your dental practice while you're teaching.
Individuals interested in pursuing a career in oral or dental biology must first complete a bachelor's degree in the sciences. Those with an undergraduate degree in another area must complete prerequisite courses for the graduate program they choose. Students then have the option of completing a master's degree or a Ph.D. in oral biology. A variety of degree programs exist, depending upon the institution. Some also require the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree and a valid license; other programs are geared toward non-dentists.
Graduate degree programs include courses in oral genetics, biochemistry, oral diseases, microbiology, immunology, dental bioengineering, oral tissue structure and development and research seminars. Master's degree students can expect to complete a thesis. Doctoral curricula offer in-depth clinical training and require a research-based dissertation. Students can expect to complete their doctoral degrees approximately six years from completion of their undergraduate degree.
|Career||Biological Science Postsecondary Teacher||Biochemists and Biophysicists|
|Required Education||Doctoral degree (or a master's degree if teaching at a community college)||Doctoral degree for independent study|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||16%||8%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$75,320||$82,150|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Most people study oral biology in order to add to the bulk of research in the field or to teach dental and oral biology students. Some also maintain dental practices, allowing them the opportunity to connect their research with clinical practice.
Individuals possessing a master's degree often find work as postsecondary instructors at the junior college level. Many 2-year colleges prefer candidates with some teaching experience, including distance learning. However, some 4-year colleges and universities will hire master's degree holders for graduate teaching assistant positions, as well as temporary and part-time positions. The doctorate is a requirement for a full professor, tenure-track position in a school of dentistry or department of oral biology at most colleges and universities.
Salary levels are dependent on the institution and program, as well as the candidate's qualifications, knowledge and previous teaching experience. The number of jobs in this field is predicted to increase at an average rate over the next ten years.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), postsecondary biological science instructors earned a median annual salary of $75,320 in 2015. Salary levels are dependent on the institution and program, as well as the candidate's qualifications, knowledge and previous teaching experience. The number of jobs in this field is predicted to increase 13% from 2014-2024, per the BLS, which is considered a roughly average rate by the agency.
Graduates with an advanced degree may work as biological scientists and research technicians in applied research in oral biology; however, independent research requires a Ph.D. Quite often, research funding is tied to universities. Ph.D. holders often work as professors while conducting research in a college or university.
The need for biochemists and biophysicists is projected to increase at 8%, compared with an increase of 7% for all occupations from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. Competition is expected to be stiff for both jobs and research funding. People who worked in this career earned a median salary of $82,150 in May 2015, according to the BLS
With an undergraduate degree in biology or a similar concentration, you can elect to pursue a career in dental biology with a master's degree that includes instruction in such areas as dental engineering and oral genetics. A doctorate will take you about six years of post-bachelor's degree study. Employment opportunities are projected to increase as fast as or faster than the national average of all occupations for these careers through 2024.