How Much Does a Molecular Biologist Make? (Plus Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 25, 2022

For those passionate about science and biological research, a career as a molecular biologist can be an appealing option. Learning about the salary expectations for the role can help you decide if the position is a good choice for your lifestyle needs and career goals. By discovering as much as you can about the position, you can make an informed decision about whether pursuing the career is the right choice for you.

In this article, we define what a molecular biologist is, explain how much they make and list other helpful information about the rule, like common job duties and skills for those in the position.

What is a molecular biologist?

A molecular biologist is a scientist who studies plant, animal and human genetics at the molecular level to discover variations, relationships and interactions. By looking at the structure and function of cells, biologists can discover key insights into their composition and purpose. Ultimately, their discoveries can lead to scientific advancements and an increased understanding of life. These findings can inspire advancements in fields like medicine, technology and science.

Often, molecular biologists work closely with genetic structures like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA). DNA is a polymer comprising all the instructions living organisms use to reproduce, develop, and function. RNA is a polymeric molecule that reads these instructions. By looking at these two acids, molecular biologists can better understand the organisms containing them.

Related: How To Become a Molecular Biologist in 7 Steps

How much does a molecular biologist make?

While there isn't salary data available for molecular biologists specifically, the average salary for biologists is $76,254 per year. Salary expectations can depend on factors like geographic location, experience and employer.

For those interesting in earning more as molecular biologists, you can often increase your earning potential by seeking additional education and experience. Many molecular biologists pursue advanced degrees so they can research their chosen area of study. While not all employers require doctorate-level degrees, attaining a high level of education can help differentiate you from other candidates and increase your earning potential.

For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the link(s) provided.

Molecular biologist tasks

While the exact tasks a molecular biologist completes in their work can depend on their focus, employer and specific job description, there are some common tasks many in the field complete. Here's a closer look at some common molecular biologist duties:

  • Create testable hypotheses concerning biological tissue structures and functions

  • Execute experiments to test hypotheses and study organisms at a molecular level

  • Use techniques like ligation, sequencing, cloning and analysis to perform various tasks

  • Study samples of biological materials and author and publish reports on findings

  • Create models and reconstructions of organic structures using computer software

  • Work with a research team to study gene expression and other research topics

  • Comply with lab safety policies and rules and execute procedures to maintain standards

  • Read other scientists' published works to stay up-to-date on developments and write reviews

  • Verify experiment results, report on findings and prepare arguments and lectures about research

Related: 20 Science Degrees

Molecular biologist skills

Here are some skills that can help molecular biologists in their fields and make it easier for them to achieve higher earning potential:

Attention to detail

Because molecular biologists work on such a small scale, attention to detail can be extremely important. This can help them make noteworthy observations about the structures and organisms they study. Their findings can lead to important discoveries and help other scientists gain insight into their subject.

Computer skills

Many molecular biologists use software programs to create models of the structures they study. Learning to use this software effectively can help biologists appeal to specific employers and execute the functions of their jobs or research successfully. Computer skills can also help molecular biologists create presentations and write reports based on their findings.

Problem-solving skills

Problem-solving skills are also important for molecular biologists. These skills can help them think creatively about how organisms work and what functions different molecular structures serve. If experiment results don't match a proposed hypothesis, problem-solving skills can help scientists better understand why.

Writing skills

An important aspect of working as a professional molecular biologist is publishing and research. Writing skills can help them prepare arguments that are sound and convincing, so other scientists reading their work understand the purpose and results of their studies. Strong writing skills can make it easier to advance in your career as a biologist and grow your reputation and credibility within the scientific community.

Related: Science Resume Template (With Tips and Samples)

Critical thinking skills

Many scientists use critical thinking skills to ask questions and draw conclusions about their work. Thinking critically is important for developing novel ideas and understanding complex concepts. It can also help them review others' work and create responses.

Communication skills

Professional molecular biologists often work on research teams helping companies, private organizations, government agencies or educational institutions understand specific aspects of molecular biology more effectively. Communication skills can help them work in a team successfully. These skills can also help scientists relay complex information and ideas to those not involved in their research.

Teaching skills

Many molecular biologists choose to remain in academia to pursue their research interests and share their passion with others. Teaching skills can help them design interesting and memorable lectures for students. Those working outside academia can still benefit from skills in this area. If working for a company or public organization, teaching skills can help them share their work with others who might not have scientific backgrounds.

Related: 17 Molecular Biology Skills and How To Develop Them

Professional organizations for molecular biologists

Getting involved with professional organizations can help molecular biologists advance their careers through networking and professional development. Here's a closer look at some popular professional organizations for molecular biologists:

  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology: The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) is a society where members can attend workshops, read about science news and learn about leadership opportunities.

  • American Society for Cell Biology: The American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) is a global community for scientists interested in studying cell biology.

  • American Institute of Biological Sciences: The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is another popular organization that promotes science-informed advocacy and policy efforts.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Browse more articles