Molecular and Cellular Biologists
Research and study cellular molecules and organelles to understand cell function and organization.
Sample of reported job titles: Molecular Biologist, Research Scientist
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | 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 | Additional Information
- Maintain accurate laboratory records and data.
- Design molecular or cellular laboratory experiments, oversee their execution, and interpret results.
- Write grant applications to obtain funding.
- Perform laboratory procedures following protocols including deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequencing, cloning and extraction, ribonucleic acid (RNA) purification, or gel electrophoresis.
- Conduct research on cell organization and function, including mechanisms of gene expression, cellular bioinformatics, cell signaling, or cell differentiation.
- Prepare or review reports, manuscripts, or meeting presentations.
- Instruct undergraduate and graduate students within the areas of cellular or molecular biology.
- Direct, coordinate, organize, or prioritize biological laboratory activities.
- Compile and analyze molecular or cellular experimental data and adjust experimental designs as necessary.
- Evaluate new technologies to enhance or complement current research.
- Provide scientific direction for project teams regarding the evaluation or handling of devices, drugs, or cells for in vitro and in vivo disease models.
- Supervise technical personnel and postdoctoral research fellows.
- Monitor or operate specialized equipment, such as gas chromatographs and high pressure liquid chromatographs, electrophoresis units, thermocyclers, fluorescence activated cell sorters, and phosphorimagers.
- 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.
- Develop assays that monitor cell characteristics.
- 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.
- Evaluate new supplies and equipment to ensure operability in specific laboratory settings.
- Participate in all levels of bioproduct development, including proposing new products, performing market analyses, designing and performing experiments, and collaborating with operations and quality control teams during product launches.
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- Analytical or scientific software — Geospiza GeneSifter; Minitab ; 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; Microsoft Access
- Data mining software
- File versioning software — Git
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Illustrator ; Corel CorelDraw Graphics Suite; Molecular Devices Corporation MetaMorph
- Internet browser software — Web browser software
- Object or component oriented development software — C++ ; Python
- Office suite software — Corel Office; Microsoft Office
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
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- 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.
- 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.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Medicine and Dentistry — Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
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- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- 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.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
- 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.
- Negotiation — Bringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
- 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.
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- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- 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 that there is a problem.
- 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).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
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- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- 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.
- 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.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- 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.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Communicating with People Outside the 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.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
- Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
- Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
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Detailed Work Activities
- Record research or operational data.
- Plan biological research.
- Prepare proposals or grant applications to obtain project funding.
- Write grant proposals.
- Analyze biological samples.
- Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Proofread documents, records, or other files to ensure accuracy.
- Read documents to gather technical information.
- Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
- Direct scientific activities.
- Evaluate new technologies or methods.
- Direct medical science or healthcare programs.
- Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
- Operate laboratory or field equipment.
- Establish standards for medical care.
- Research crop management methods.
- Develop biological research methods.
- Coordinate cross-disciplinary research programs.
- Manage scientific or technical project resources.
- Develop new or advanced products or production methods.
- Inspect equipment to ensure proper functioning.
- Develop technical or scientific databases.
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- Electronic Mail — 92% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 54% responded “Extremely important.”
- Level of Competition — 46% responded “Highly competitive.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 60% responded “More than 40 hours.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 46% responded “Very important.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 58% responded “Some freedom.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 42% responded “Some freedom.”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 38% responded “High responsibility.”
- Contact With Others — 35% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 42% responded “More than half the time.”
- Telephone — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 36% responded “Important.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 31% responded “More than half the time.”
- Time Pressure — 42% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Letters and Memos — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Exposed to Disease or Infections — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 31% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 27% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 33% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
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|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 pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.|
|SVP Range||(8.0 and above)|
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Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
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Interest code: IRA Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- 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.
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- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- 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.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
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- 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.
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Wages & Employment Trends
Median wage data for Biological Scientists, All Other.
Employment data for Biological Scientists, All Other.
Industry data for Biological Scientists, All Other.
|Median wages (2020)||$41.00 hourly, $85,290 annual|
|Employment (2020)||46,200 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Slower than average (1% to 5%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||4,200|
|Top industries (2020)||
Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
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Job Openings on the Web
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Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- American Association for Cancer Research
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
- American Society for Cell Biology
- American Society for Microbiology
- Genetics Society of America
- Society for Neuroscience
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