Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary

This is a sub-career of Postsecondary Teacher

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Job Outlook:
Faster than average
Education: Doctoral or professional degree
High: $166,750.00
Average: $97,800.00

What they do:

Teach courses in biological sciences. Includes both teachers primarily engaged in teaching and those who do a combination of teaching and research.

On the job, you would:

  • Evaluate and grade students' class work, laboratory work, assignments, and papers.
  • Prepare and deliver lectures to undergraduate or graduate students on topics such as molecular biology, marine biology, and botany.
  • Plan, evaluate, and revise curricula, course content, and course materials and methods of instruction.

Important Qualities

Critical-thinking skills. To conduct original research and design experiments, postsecondary teachers need to analyze information logically.

Interpersonal skills. Postsecondary teachers need to work well with others for tasks such as instructing students and serving on committees.

Resourcefulness. Postsecondary teachers must be able to present information in a way that students will understand. They need to adapt to the different learning styles of their students and be able to use technology for lessons or assignments.

Speaking skills. Postsecondary teachers need good communication skills to present lectures and provide feedback to students.

Writing skills. Postsecondary teachers need strong writing ability to publish original research and analysis.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Characteristics of this Career

92% Achievement/Effort  -  Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
90% Integrity  -  Job requires being honest and ethical.
89% Attention to Detail  -  Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
89% Persistence  -  Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
88% 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.
87% Initiative  -  Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
86% Dependability  -  Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
85% Analytical Thinking  -  Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
84% Innovation  -  Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
82% Adaptability/Flexibility  -  Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
80% Stress Tolerance  -  Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
80% Cooperation  -  Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
77% Self-Control  -  Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
75% Leadership  -  Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
74% Concern for Others  -  Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
A3 Your Strengths Importance


95% Social  -  Work involves helping, teaching, advising, assisting, or providing service to others. Social occupations are often associated with social, health care, personal service, teaching/education, or religious activities.
89% Investigative  -  Work involves studying and researching non-living objects, living organisms, disease or other forms of impairment, or human behavior. Investigative occupations are often associated with physical, life, medical, or social sciences, and can be found in the fields of humanities, mathematics/statistics, information technology, or health care service.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Values of the Work Environment

81% 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.
78% 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.
78% Recognition  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
78% Independence  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
67% Relationships  -  Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.


A3 Your Strengths Importance

Abilities | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

91% Oral Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
78% Written Comprehension  -  The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
78% Written Expression  -  The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
78% Oral Comprehension  -  The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
78% Speech Clarity  -  The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
75% Inductive Reasoning  -  The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
75% Deductive Reasoning  -  The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
69% Speech Recognition  -  The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
66% Near Vision  -  The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Skills | Cognitive, Physical, Personality

73% Reading Comprehension  -  Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
68% Writing  -  Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
68% Speaking  -  Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Job Details

Develop instructional materials.
Tutor students who need extra assistance.
Plan experiential learning activities.
Evaluate scholarly materials.
Plan community programs or activities for the general public.
Clean equipment, parts, or tools to repair or maintain them in good working order.
Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.
Teach physical science or mathematics courses at the college level.
Evaluate student work.
Administer tests to assess educational needs or progress.
Prepare tests.
Evaluate student work.
Supervise laboratory work.
Stay informed about current developments in field of specialization.
Attend training sessions or professional meetings to develop or maintain professional knowledge.
Maintain student records.
Guide class discussions.
Evaluate effectiveness of educational programs.
Develop instructional objectives.
Advise students on academic or career matters.
Advise students on academic or career matters.
Supervise student research or internship work.
Select educational materials or equipment.
Order instructional or library materials or equipment.
Research topics in area of expertise.
Research topics in area of expertise.
Write articles, books or other original materials in area of expertise.
Serve on institutional or departmental committees.
Promote educational institutions or programs.
Perform student enrollment or registration activities.
Write grant proposals.
Direct department activities.
Advise students on academic or career matters.
Compile specialized bibliographies or lists of materials.
Advise educators on curricula, instructional methods, or policies.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Attributes & Percentage of Time Spent

99% Electronic Mail  -  How often do you use electronic mail in this job?
99% Freedom to Make Decisions  -  How much decision making freedom, without supervision, does the job offer?
98% Indoors, Environmentally Controlled  -  How often does this job require working indoors in environmentally controlled conditions?
97% Face-to-Face Discussions  -  How often do you have to have face-to-face discussions with individuals or teams in this job?
94% Public Speaking  -  How often do you have to perform public speaking in this job?
93% Structured versus Unstructured Work  -  To what extent is this job structured for the worker, rather than allowing the worker to determine tasks, priorities, and goals?
85% Contact With Others  -  How much does this job require the worker to be in contact with others (face-to-face, by telephone, or otherwise) in order to perform it?
81% Work With Work Group or Team  -  How important is it to work with others in a group or team in this job?
81% Importance of Being Exact or Accurate  -  How important is being very exact or highly accurate in performing this job?
80% Coordinate or Lead Others  -  How important is it to coordinate or lead others in accomplishing work activities in this job?
77% Frequency of Decision Making  -  How frequently is the worker required to make decisions that affect other people, the financial resources, and/or the image and reputation of the organization?
76% Time Pressure  -  How often does this job require the worker to meet strict deadlines?
75% Letters and Memos  -  How often does the job require written letters and memos?
70% Telephone  -  How often do you have telephone conversations in this job?
70% Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results  -  What results do your decisions usually have on other people or the image or reputation or financial resources of your employer?
70% Level of Competition  -  To what extent does this job require the worker to compete or to be aware of competitive pressures?
68% Responsible for Others' Health and Safety  -  How much responsibility is there for the health and safety of others in this job?
96% Duration of Typical Work Week  -  Number of hours typically worked in one week.
A3 Your Strengths Importance

Tasks & Values

93% Training and Teaching Others  -  Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
91% Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge  -  Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
90% Working with Computers  -  Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
89% Processing Information  -  Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
86% Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others  -  Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
85% Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates  -  Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
85% Analyzing Data or Information  -  Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
85% Thinking Creatively  -  Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
85% Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events  -  Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
84% Making Decisions and Solving Problems  -  Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
83% Getting Information  -  Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
82% Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work  -  Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
80% Documenting/Recording Information  -  Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
80% Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People  -  Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
79% Developing Objectives and Strategies  -  Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
75% Coaching and Developing Others  -  Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
74% Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings  -  Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
72% Scheduling Work and Activities  -  Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
70% 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.
65% Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates  -  Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.

What Postsecondary Teachers Do

Postsecondary teachers
Professors may teach a variety of subjects, such as history, science, or business.

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.


Postsecondary teachers typically do the following:

  • Develop an instructional plan (known as a course outline or syllabus) for the course(s) they teach and ensure that it meets college and department standards
  • Plan lessons and assignments
  • Teach courses in their subject area
  • Assess students’ progress by grading assignments, papers, exams, and other work
  • Advise students about which courses to take and how to achieve their goals
  • Work with colleagues to develop or modify the curriculum for a degree or certificate program involving in-person, online, or hybrid delivery of course material
  • Stay informed about changes and innovations in their field
  • Serve on academic or administrative committees, as needed

Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments by degree field, such as history, science, or business. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar on a topic related to polynomials.

Postsecondary teachers’ duties vary, often based on the size of their employing institution. In large colleges or universities, they may teach courses, conduct research or experiments, publish original research, apply for grants to fund their research, or supervise graduate teaching assistants. In small colleges and universities or in community colleges, they may spend most of their time teaching courses and working with students.

Full-time professors, particularly those who have tenure (that is, they cannot be fired without just cause), often are expected to devote a great deal of time on original research. Tenured professors must document their analyses or critical reviews and publish their research findings. They also may be expected to serve on college and university committees.

Part-time professors, often known as adjunct professors, usually spend most of their time teaching students.

Professors may teach large classes of several hundred students (often with the help of graduate teaching assistants), smaller classes of about 40 to 50 students, seminars with a few students, or laboratories in which students practice the subject matter. Some teach online, either exclusively or in addition to providing live instruction.

Professors’ tasks also may include collaborating with their colleagues and attending conferences to keep up with developments in their field.

Information about postsecondary teachers who provide vocational training in subjects such as repair, transportation, and cosmetology is available in the profile on career and technical education teachers.

Work Environment

Postsecondary teachers held about 1.3 million jobs in 2022. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up postsecondary teachers was distributed as follows:

Health specialties teachers, postsecondary 262,800
Art, drama, and music teachers, postsecondary 123,900
Business teachers, postsecondary 99,900
Nursing instructors and teachers, postsecondary 85,900
Education teachers, postsecondary 74,300
English language and literature teachers, postsecondary 70,100
Biological science teachers, postsecondary 62,400
Mathematical science teachers, postsecondary 55,900
Psychology teachers, postsecondary 50,900
Engineering teachers, postsecondary 45,500
Computer science teachers, postsecondary 42,000
Communications teachers, postsecondary 33,600
Philosophy and religion teachers, postsecondary 29,100
Chemistry teachers, postsecondary 25,900
Foreign language and literature teachers, postsecondary 24,700
History teachers, postsecondary 22,800
Law teachers, postsecondary 19,800
Political science teachers, postsecondary 19,300
Social sciences teachers, postsecondary, all other 19,200
Criminal justice and law enforcement teachers, postsecondary 16,500
Recreation and fitness studies teachers, postsecondary 16,300
Physics teachers, postsecondary 16,200
Social work teachers, postsecondary 15,500
Sociology teachers, postsecondary 15,000
Economics teachers, postsecondary 14,800
Atmospheric, earth, marine, and space sciences teachers, postsecondary 13,600
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies teachers, postsecondary 11,900
Agricultural sciences teachers, postsecondary 10,100
Architecture teachers, postsecondary 8,200
Environmental science teachers, postsecondary 7,900
Anthropology and archeology teachers, postsecondary 6,200
Library science teachers, postsecondary 5,400
Geography teachers, postsecondary 4,100
Family and consumer sciences teachers, postsecondary 2,900
Forestry and conservation science teachers, postsecondary 1,500

The largest employers of postsecondary teachers were as follows:

Colleges, universities, and professional schools; private 41%
Colleges, universities, and professional schools; state 39
Junior colleges; local 10
Junior colleges; state 6

Postsecondary teachers often find it rewarding to share their expertise with students and colleagues. However, it may be stressful, especially for beginning teachers seeking advancement, to balance teaching duties with an emphasis on research and publication. At the community college level, professors are more likely to focus on teaching students.

Work Schedules

Most postsecondary teachers work full time, although part-time work is common. Postsecondary teachers who work part time may offer instruction at several colleges or universities. Some have a full-time job in their field of expertise in addition to a part-time teaching position. For example, an active lawyer or judge might teach an evening course at a law school.

College and university courses are generally during the day, although some are offered in the evenings or on weekends to accommodate students who have jobs or other obligations.

Academic calendars typically include breaks, such as between terms. The availability and type of course offerings during the summer vary by institution. Although some postsecondary teachers provide instruction in summer courses, others use the time to conduct research or engage in professional development.

Postsecondary teachers’ schedules generally are flexible. Full-time teachers typically need to be on campus to teach classes and have office hours but otherwise are free to set their own schedules.

Getting Started

Doctoral Degree
Post-Doctoral Training

How to Become a Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers
Institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience.

Educational requirements vary with the subject taught and the type of educational institution. Typically, postsecondary teachers must have a Ph.D. or other doctoral degree in their field. However, a master's degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges. Other postsecondary teachers may need work experience in their field of expertise.


Postsecondary teachers who work for 4-year colleges and universities typically need a Ph.D. or other doctorate in their field of degree. For some specialties or for part-time positions, schools may hire those with a master’s degree or who are doctoral degree candidates.

Doctoral programs usually take several years to complete, and students typically need a bachelor’s or master’s degree to enroll. Most Ph.D. programs require students to write a doctoral dissertation, a paper presenting original research in their field of study, which they then defend in questioning from experts. Candidates usually specialize in a subfield, such as organic chemistry or European history.

Community colleges may hire those with a master’s degree. However, some institutions prefer that applicants have a Ph.D.

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

Institutions may prefer to hire those with teaching or other work experience.

In some fields, such as health specialties, art, law, and education, hands-on work experience is especially important. Postsecondary teachers in these fields often gain experience by working in an occupation related to their field of study.

In other fields, such as biological science, physics, and chemistry, some postsecondary teachers have postdoctoral research experience. Sometimes called a “post-doc,” this experience takes the form of a job that usually involves working for 2 to 3 years as a research associate or in a similar position, often at a college or university.

Some postsecondary teachers gain teaching experience by working as graduate teaching assistants—students who are enrolled in a graduate program and teach classes at the institution in which they are enrolled.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Postsecondary teachers who prepare students for an occupation that requires a license, certification, or registration, may need to have—or may benefit from having—the same credential. For example, a postsecondary nursing teacher might need a nursing license or a postsecondary education teacher might need a teaching license.


Postsecondary teachers with a doctoral degree often seek tenure—a guarantee that a professor cannot be fired without just cause. Attaining tenure may take up to 7 years of progressing through the positions by rank: assistant professor, associate professor, and professor. The decision to grant tenure is based on a candidate’s research, contribution to the institution, and teaching.

Some professors advance to high-level administrative positions, such as dean or president. For information on deans and other administrative positions, see the profile on postsecondary education administrators. For more information about college and university presidents, see the profile on top executives.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of postsecondary teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 118,800 openings for postsecondary teachers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.


Projected employment of postsecondary teachers varies by occupation (see table). Both part-time and full-time postsecondary teachers are included in these projections.

The number of people attending postsecondary institutions is expected to grow over the projections decade. Students will continue to seek higher education to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to meet their career goals. As more people enter colleges and universities, more postsecondary teachers will be needed to serve these additional students. Colleges and universities are likely to hire more part-time teachers to meet this demand. In all disciplines, there is expected to be a limited number of full-time nontenure and full-time tenure positions.

A growing number of older people, who are more likely than young people to need medical care, will create increased demand for healthcare. More postsecondary teachers are expected to be needed to help educate workers who provide healthcare services.

However, despite expected increases in enrollment, employment growth in public colleges and universities will depend on state and local government budgets. If budgets for higher education are reduced, employment growth may be limited.

Contacts for More Information

For more information about postsecondary teachers, visit

American Association of University Professors

Council of Graduate Schools

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of postsecondary teachers.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2022
Career and technical education teachers Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts.

Bachelor's degree $61,450
Elementary, middle, and high school principals Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily school activities.

Master's degree $101,320
Instructional coordinators Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, implement it, and assess its effectiveness.

Master's degree $66,490
Postsecondary education administrators Postsecondary Education Administrators

Postsecondary education administrators oversee student services, academics, and faculty research at colleges and universities.

Master's degree $99,940

Information provided by CareerFitter, LLC and other sources.

Sections of this page includes information from the O*NET 27.3 Database by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.

CareerFitter, LLC has modified all or some of this information. USDOL/ETA has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.