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Online Biology Instructor: Career Information and Requirements

Biology instructors teach courses in various areas, including botany and zoology. The educational requirements for online instructors are the same as those for traditional instructors. Online instructors must adapt their coursework to online situations. This can prove to be a potentially lengthy process which takes time away from scientific research and collaboration.

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Job Duties

In many cases, online instructors have very similar duties to their counterparts teaching traditional on-site courses. Online biology instructors teach courses in the subject area of biology and do so by using an online learning platform. Salary.com lists biology instruction areas as zoology, genetics, botany, evolutionary science and other relevant topics. These professionals use a number of teaching techniques to help students learn, including lectures, assignments, moderated peer discussions and examinations (swz.salary.com).

Educational Requirements of Online Instructors

An increasingly larger number of colleges and universities offer online courses for their students. The U.S. News & World Report noted in April of 2009 that the world of online learning was plagued by student claims of bad quality and high costs of attendance but that many reputable learning institutions were stepping up to change this (www.usnews.com). In postsecondary schools, the educational requirements for becoming an online instructor are similar to those of traditional faculty. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that nearly all higher-learning institutions require all teachers to hold a minimum of a master's degree in a subject area. Four-year institutions commonly require doctorate-level degrees of their full-time faculty (www.bls.gov).

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 17% between 2010 and 2020. This job growth rate is about the same as the average for all careers within the U.S. The BLS also reports that as of May 2012 the average salary of postsecondary biological science teachers was $87,060 per year (www.bls.gov).

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).

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