How to Become a Molecular Biologist

Molecular Biologist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $64,830
Avg. Pay / hour $31.17
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 8%

Individuals who study Molecular Science during their undergraduate degree have the option to become a Molecular Biologist .

Molecular Biologists have a vast knowledge of how macromolecules work and how they are structured.

Macromolecules can include properties such as genes and proteins in not only the human body, but all living organisms as well.

Individuals who want to become a Molecular Biologist can expect to work with the very foundation of life.

And the foundation of life happens to be very small.

So small that the majority of work for these professionals is done using a microscope and other advanced technology.

Individuals interested in the behavior of living organisms at the molecular level would be a great fit for this profession.

Education Requirements to Become a Molecular Biologist

The level of education an individual needs to become a Molecular Biologist will heavily depend on whether they would like an entry level position or something more advanced.

For entry level positions, a candidate must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.

An individual must focus their undergraduate studies in Molecular Biology in order to attain an entry level position in this field.

In addition, individuals who would like to pursue an advanced career in genetics, medicine or molecular biology at the graduate level must attain an undergrad degree in molecular science.

During an undergraduate career in Molecular Science, an individual will take a variety of classes to prepare them to become a Molecular Biologist.

A degree in Molecular Science may include courses such as Biology, Microbiology, mathematics, genetic engineering, advanced chemistry, biochemistry, cell differentiation, genomics, disease and bioinformatics.

Individuals pursuing an advanced Master’s degree should expect to take more advanced courses and a focus on the study of cells.

Classes may include: macromolecules, cell organelles, developmental biology, genetics, biophysics and biomedical sciences.

Individuals who want higher prospects and more job opportunities may seek a doctoral degree in Molecular Science.

Candidates pursuing a doctoral degree can expect to take advanced courses in biomedical sciences, genetics and bioinformatics, biostatistics, cell biology and genetics.

Molecular Biologist Job Description

Job duties for Molecular Biologists will heavily depend on the level of education and the sector.

For those who are entry level in this field, they may pursue a position as a research assistant, research associate, assistant research scientist, or as a laboratory technician.

In addition, job duties will also heavily depend on the industry an individual works in.

For individuals working in the private sector, job duties can include working with advanced lab equipment to help study genetically engineered crops or specimens.

The private sector may also require Molecular Biologists to provide consulting for agencies wanting to improve the environment or other scientific problems.

Molecular Biologists may give research, feedback and consulting to help treat and diagnose infectious diseases.

Molecular Biologists may also work in postsecondary teaching the most up to date information and research on Molecular Biology to their students.

As professors in colleges or universities, a Molecular Biologist uses their knowledge in the field to strengthen students’ knowledge and develop the possibility of educating them to provide further advancements in the field.

In this position, they will guide students to properly conduct research and to expand current modes of scientific thinking.

Molecular Biologist Salary and Career Path

The median annual salary in 2012 for all Biological Scientists, including Molecular Biologists was approximately $72,720.

Exact wages will depend on the location and industry this professional works in.

For example, Molecular Biologists working for state governments make the least amount at a median annual wage of $54,070 while individuals working in the Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing field earn a median annual wage of approximately $102,430.

The job prospects for Biological Scientists as a whole heavily depends on the location they search for employment.

The states with the highest number of openings in this profession include California, Maryland, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts.

Individuals who want to pursue a career in Molecular Biology will have plenty of opportunities, not only because the job prospects look good for this industry, but also because these individuals have plenty of opportunities in many different sectors including medicine, the private sector, government and research or teaching.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$72,480
New Jersey$90,550
New Mexico$50,940
New York$82,260
North Carolina$80,240
North Dakota$72,750
South Carolina$64,750
West Virginia$68,920
Puerto Rico$52,590

The top earning state in the field is Massachusetts, where the average salary is $118,880.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Massachusetts - $118,880
Montana - $101,370
Maryland - $100,100
California - $100,030
Georgia - $98,130
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Microbiologists, OCC Code 19-1022, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a molecular biologist do?

A molecular biologist is someone who studies and explores the structures and functions of cells on a molecular level.

In a nutshell, a molecular biologist develops an understanding of how molecules come together to function as organelles and, ultimately, as cells that perform various functions within a body.

The typical duties of a molecular biologist usually include conducting research and academic activities; studying biological structures in the laboratory; discovering specific patterns in biological material; trying to replicate the findings in various experiments; formulating biological theories; isolating, purifying, and exploring particular components of cells; conducting academic work (workshops, teaching, practical demonstrations…), and so on.

Molecular biologists might be employed by governmental agencies, private companies or universities.

How much do molecular biologists make?

On average, a molecular biologist can make a little more than $76.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $43.000 and $135.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The molecular biologists that work in Delaware, Rhode Island, and Maryland, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level molecular biologist can earn $21 per hour, while a specialist with plenty of experience will make $65 and more.

How much does it cost to become a molecular biologist?

You would certainly need at least a bachelor’s degree in biology, biophysics, biochemistry or a related field, in order to become a molecular biologist.

A year in a university can cost you anywhere between $8.000 and $45.000 (and more); the cost depends on a variety of factors (the books, supplies, and accommodation expenses are not included).

However, the majority of employers will prefer you to have a master’s degree (over $11.000) or a doctorate degree, in case you want to become a professor or focus on independent research in molecular biology (a Ph.D. will cost you around $20.000 per year).

What is the demand for molecular biologists?

Between 2016 and 2026, the molecular biologist job market is expected to grow by 8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That is as fast as the national average for all occupations in the United States.

The candidates that hold a master’s or doctorate degree and have plenty of experience in the field will have better job prospects.

Nowadays, molecular biologists face a high level of competition.

The industry is mainly concentrated in California, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

How long does it take to become a molecular biologist?

It will take you 4 years to obtain a bachelor’s degree and another 2 years to earn a master’s degree.

A doctorate degree typically takes 5-6 years to acquire.

To become recognized in the field, molecular biologists conduct post-doctoral research.

Laboratory experience is incredibly important for aspiring molecular biologists; you might want to consider seeking internships with prospective employers as well.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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