I feel more comfortable in a lab. Will I have to teach as I get my Master’s in Biology? 

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The answer to the captioned question is: No. There is no requirement to teach at the college or secondary school level while completing your Master’s in biology. Most undergrads in biology qualify to work in public high schools. Private and charter schools may require a master’s degree.

If you are attending school full-time, there will be little time left to teach. There are online graduate programs in biology that allow a continuing work schedule. For example, the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina offers a non-thesis Master of Science online.

Also, at the Master’s level, there are dozens of specialties from which to choose. Examples are:

  • Cryobiology
  • Ecology and Environmental
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Marine Biology
  • Nanobiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Quantum Biology
  • Systems Biology

The above branches of biology are a partial list. For students who are comfortable in a lab, the various branches’ curriculum will most often include lab courses. San Francisco State University’s Master of Science in Physiology and Behavior concentration has the option to incorporate lab work. A class titled – Biology Research allows students to apply research skills in the field or laboratory.

One could answer the captioned question with a question – Why would you want to teach while earning a master’s degree? Armed with a bachelor’s degree in biology, many public secondary schools post openings at online employment sites for high school biology teachers. Those who want to avoid teaching and work while taking graduate classes in biology have other possibilities.

If lab work is your comfort zone, what are some of the jobs you might qualify for with a baccalaureate in biology? Here are examples:

Agricultural or Food Science Technician:  Involves lab equipment maintenance and analysis of food products for quality purposes. Private companies and the U.S. Department of Agriculture employ these technicians. Some of the duties are: Collect, prepare, evaluate, and verify soil, crop, water, or leach samples and supporting records. And keep detailed records of experimental data related to agriculture, crops, leach, or soil.

Biological Technician or Research Assistant:  Involves the collection and preparation of biological samples such as blood, food, and bacteria for biologists or medical scientists. Responsibilities involve adapting, modifying, and developing new techniques and procedures to satisfy the research project’s needs.

Quality Control Technician:  Oversees production and testing of products in industries like pharmaceuticals and food producers. Tasks may include the qualitative and quantitative testing of raw materials throughout the entire production process, Conduct package quality inspection, and maintain housekeeping standards to prevent microbial contamination.

Physician Liaison:  Biology is one of many degrees that may qualify you for this hard-to-find position. Hospitals and health systems are employment opportunities. Duties include the activities’ facilitation for new physicians and customer service.

Environmental Scientist or Associate:  Conducts fieldwork to ensure ecosystem protection and acts as an advisor on policy issues. Companies in the oil and gas sectors, for example, Valero, hire these graduates with a bachelor’s in biology. The associate evaluates habitat restoration; Monitors endangered species lists, assists with performing emission and discharge calculations, and composes regulatory compliance reports.

Biologist:  You might land a job in any one of the branches on the above list. Consulting firms, state and federal agencies, and the private sector are employment possibilities. The lab duties consist of performing complex clinical sample testing, daily laboratory testing, analyzing, reviewing, and reporting test results. You may also maintain analytical instruments, schedule authorized routine service, and maintains instrument documentation. An example of a specialty job, posted on Indeed, exists in the Department of Fish and Wildlife for a Biological Science Assistant. Two tasks require candidates to collect fishery and biological data from commercially landed marine finfish from the relevant ports and sample fish at-sea on one-day trips aboard commercial fishing vessels or research vessels.

In summary, there will be more offerings to work in a laboratory than teaching for undergraduates in biology. We ask again – Why would you want to teach when there are so many other possibilities, as illustrated above? Teaching is just one niche in numerous jobs in the private, public, and governmental sectors.

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