Summary Report for:
19-1029.02 - Molecular and Cellular Biologists
Research and study cellular molecules and organelles to understand cell function and organization.
Sample of reported job titles: Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Biology Professor, Molecular Biology Professor, Professor
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings
- Maintain accurate laboratory records and data.
- Design molecular or cellular laboratory experiments, oversee their execution, and interpret results.
- Conduct research on cell organization and function including mechanisms of gene expression, cellular bioinformatics, cell signaling, or cell differentiation.
- Instruct undergraduate and graduate students within the areas of cellular or molecular biology.
- Compile and analyze molecular or cellular experimental data and adjust experimental designs as necessary.
- Prepare reports, manuscripts, and meeting presentations.
- Supervise technical personnel and postdoctoral research fellows.
- Direct, coordinate, organize, or prioritize biological laboratory activities.
- Perform laboratory procedures following protocols including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, cloning and extraction, ribonucleic acid (RNA) purification, or gel electrophoresis.
- Develop assays that monitor cell characteristics.
- Evaluate new technologies to enhance or complement current research.
- Monitor or operate specialized equipment such as gas chromatographs and high pressure liquid chromatographs, electrophoresis units, thermocyclers, fluorescence activated cell sorters, and phosphoimagers.
- Coordinate molecular or cellular research activities with scientists specializing in other fields.
- Verify all financial, physical, and human resources assigned to research or development projects are used as planned.
- Provide scientific direction for project teams regarding the evaluation or handling of devices, drugs, or cells for in vitro and in vivo disease models.
- Conduct applied research aimed at improvements in areas such as disease testing, crop quality, pharmaceuticals, and the harnessing of microbes to recycle waste.
- Develop guidelines for procedures such as the management of viruses.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Automated microscope stages — Automated microscopes
- Benchtop centrifuges — Tabletop centrifuges
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Laboratory binocular optical microscopes
- Centrifuge tubes
- Chemical or gas sterilizers — Laboratory chemical autoclaves
- Complementary deoxyribonucleic acid cDNA synthesis kits — Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA synthesizers
- Deoxyribonucleic sequence analyzers — Automated DNA sequencing equipment
- Desktop computers
- Dry baths or heating blocks — Heat blocks
- Dry wall single chamber carbon dioxide incubators — Automatic carbon dioxide CO2 incubators
- Electron guns — Phosphorimagers
- Electronic multichannel pipetters — Multichannel micropipettes
- Electrophoresis system accessories — Electrophoresis cameras
- Eyewashers or eye wash stations — Emergency eye wash stations
- Floor centrifuges — Laboratory floor centrifuges
- Fluorescent microscopes — Fluorescence microscopes
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Chemical hoods
- Gas chromatographs — Gas chromatography equipment
- Gel documentation systems — Gel electrophoresis equipment
- General cloning vectors — Cloning kits
- General purpose refrigerators or refrigerator freezers — Laboratory freezers
- Heating or drying equipment or accessories — Dessicators
- High pressure liquid chromatograph chromatography — High pressure liquid chromatograph HPLC equipment
- Hybridization ovens or incubators — Nucleic acid hybridization ovens
- Immunology or serology test kits or supplies — Serological kits
- Inverted microscopes — Inverted binocular microscopes
- Laboratory balances — Microbalances
- Laboratory beakers — Glass beakers
- Laboratory dishes — Cloning cylinders
- Laboratory vacuum pumps
- Laminar flow cabinets or stations — Laminar flow hoods
- Manual or electronic hematology differential cell counters — Automated cell counters
- Manual single channel positive displacement pipetters — Manual single channel positive displacement pipettes
- Manual single channel repeating pipetters
- Mass spectrometers
- Medical computed tomography CT or CAT scanners or tubes — Computerized axial tomography CAT scanners
- Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI scanners — Magnetic resonance imaging MRI systems
- Microbiology analyzers — Flow cytometers
- Microplate readers
- Notebook computers — Laptop computers
- Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectrometers — Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectroscopes
- Orbital shakers — Laboratory orbital shakers
- Pasteur or transfer pipettes — Laboratory transfer pipettes
- Personal computers
- pH meters — pH analyzers
- Photo attachments for microscopes — Charge-coupled device CCD cameras
- Plate incubators — Bacterial plate incubators
- Protective gloves — Safety gloves
- Rapid amplification or complementary deoxyribonucleic acid ends RACE technology products — Polymerase chain reaction PCR equipment
- Refrigerated benchtop centrifuges — Cooled benchtop centrifuges
- Robotic or automated liquid handling systems — Robotic fluidics stations
- Scanning light or spinning disk or laser scanning microscopes — Scanning laser confocal microscopes
- Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — Fluorimeters
- Spectrophotometers — Ultraviolet-Visible UV/VIS spectrophotometers
- Stereo or dissecting light microscopes — Dissecting microscopes
- Stirring hotplates — Magnetic stirring hot plates
- Temperature cycling chambers or thermal cyclers — Gradiant thermocyclers; Polymerase chain reaction PCR thermocyclers; Thermocyclers
- Tissue culture incubators — Yeast culture incubators
- Transilluminators — Gel imaging apparatus
- Ultra pure water systems — Water purification systems
- Volumetric pipettes — Variable volume pipettes
- Vortex mixers — Vortex rotators
- Water baths — Laboratory water baths
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Geospiza GeneSifter; NetPrimer *; RasMol *; Textco BioSoftware Gene Inspector (see all 27 examples)
- Computer aided design CAD software — Mathsoft Mathcad
- Data base user interface and query software — Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA libraries
- Data mining software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Molecular Devices Corporation MetaMorph
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
* Software developed by a government agency and/or distributed as freeware or shareware.
- Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
- Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
Detailed Work Activities
- Record research or operational data.
- Plan biological research.
- Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Inspect equipment to ensure proper functioning.
- Direct scientific activities.
- Direct medical science or healthcare programs.
- Establish standards for medical care.
- Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
- Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
- Analyze biological samples.
- Develop technical or scientific databases.
- Operate laboratory or field equipment.
- Research crop management methods.
- Evaluate new technologies or methods.
- Develop new or advanced products or production methods.
- Develop biological research methods.
- Coordinate cross-disciplinary research programs.
- Manage scientific or technical project resources.
- Electronic Mail — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 71% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 82% responded “Extremely important.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 77% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 55% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 55% responded “Some freedom.”
- Telephone — 62% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 67% responded “Very important.”
- Level of Competition — 76% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Contact With Others — 41% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 48% responded “Every day.”
- Letters and Memos — 43% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 41% responded “Important results.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 27% responded “High responsibility.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 59% responded “About half the time.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 27% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Time Pressure — 50% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 38% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
|Title||Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).|
|Related Experience||Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.|
|Job Training||Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
Interest code: IRA
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
- Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Wages & Employment Trends
Median wages data collected from Biological Scientists, All Other.
Employment data collected from Biological Scientists, All Other.
Industry data collected from Biological Scientists, All Other.
|Median wages (2014)||$35.92 hourly, $74,720 annual|
|Employment (2012)||34,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Little or no change (-2% to 2%)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||9,800|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.