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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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Online instructors in biology have similar prerequisites and career responsibilities as their on-location counterparts. These instructors need at least a master's degree or a doctoral degree in biology or a related field. Not only will you need to teach biology but be able to adapt your teaching style to the needs and challenges of an online classroom.

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 doctoral-level degree.

Career Online Biology Instructor
Education Requirements Master's degree or doctorate, depending on employer
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 16% (for postsecondary biological science teachers)
Median Salary (2015)* $75,320 (for postsecondary biological science teachers)

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 16% between 2014 and 2024. This job growth rate is faster than the average for all careers within the U.S. The BLS also reports that as of May 2015 the average salary of postsecondary biological science teachers was $75,320 per year (www.bls.gov).

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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 (online.onetcenter.org). Adapting this type of work to an online setting can be particularly difficult.

Drawbacks

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 (www.bls.gov).

Online biology instructors must be able to deal with the challenges of an online classroom. However, if you're interested in teaching biology to others, an online classroom can be a good fit It's an especially welcoming career for someone who's interested in distance teaching, or whose schedule or living situation does no allow for on-site teaching.

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