How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Biology
Have you always dreamed of becoming a doctor, dentist, or optometrist growing up? Or perhaps, do you have a passion for conducting scientific research? If so, it may be worth considering earning an associate’s degree in biology.
This credential is a great stepping stone to a four-year degree in a related field, which may help you land a very well-paying job. If you aren’t too sure whether you want to stay in school for a long time, then you can always use the degree to look for technician careers. Technicians in the field work closely with scientists and biologists in a variety of industries.
An associate’s degree in biology typically takes two years of full-time study to complete. However, if you choose to earn your credential online, you may be able to complete it earlier. Depending on how many classes you can take per quarter/semester, you may be able to finish a lot quicker.
If you are a busy bee looking to attend school while still attending to your personal obligations, pursuing an associate’s degree in biology online could be a great option. Distance learning can work really well for those who are motivated and independent learners. It is essential to make sure that the college you choose is accredited so that the credits you earn can be easily transferred to a four-year college should you decide to continue your education. By virtually attending classes online, you will have access to all course materials and participate in class discussions just like you would normally in a traditional classroom setting. The main difference is that you would be able to log into the classroom portal from anywhere and anytime to complete required coursework and exams. Students can easily communicate with other students and their professors via chat platforms and email.
Keep in mind that biology has a very hands-on component to it that requires students to conduct experiments to apply everything they have learned in the books. With that said, some schools may require students to meet on site a couple times a week or month to complete a research study or experiment in a laboratory setting. This means that while most of the class material is learned online, students may still have to show up to complete the hands-on projects required for graduation.
Common Associate’s in Biology Curriculum
At the associate’s level, students will get a general overview of the many topics covered under the subject of biology. While the classes will be a challenge, they are not designed to go in depth at the level that a bachelor’s degree level class will. Those enrolling in the biology associate’s degree program can expect to take plenty of math and science classes. Popular courses include but are not limited to:
- General Biology
- General Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry for Science Majors
- Human Anatomy
- Human Physiology
- General Microbiology
- Cultural Anthropology
- Introduction to Sociology
Note that if you have taken AP courses in high school and passed the exams in any of the above subjects, you may be able to skip the class(es). It is highly recommended that you check with your school counselor to see if you can get any of the classes waived if you have already taken the course(s) and passed the exam(s) for it.
In addition to biology-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes will help you develop a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will be useful in understanding real-life situations and succeeding in whatever career you choose to be in. For example, you might take introductory classes in writing, history, art, language, and more.
Associate’s in Biology Careers
Many graduates of the associate’s degree in biology will move on to earn their bachelor’s or even master’s degree in a related field because the job prospects are much better and more competitive the more education you have. However, an associate’s degree will be sufficient if you are looking to become a:
- Biological technician
- Forest or conservation technician
- Medical or clinical laboratory technician
Technicians will work with scientists and biologists in a variety of settings to analyze samples and specimens for testing. The salaries for these professions will vary depending on a variety of factors including education level (associate’s degree will most likely give you a better chance at landing one of these jobs than if you only had a high school diploma), where you work, and who you work for. However, technicians can make anywhere from an annual average of $37,000 to $43,000.
If you do choose to pursue biology at the bachelor’s level and beyond, you open the doors to many more career opportunities. For example, you can consider becoming a:
- Professor of science
- High school teacher of science
- Research scientist
- Nature conservation officer
- Soil scientist
As you can see, the list goes on and your options are endless. With that said, pursuing an associate’s degree will provide you with a great foundation to either take on a technician or assistant role for a year or two to gain experience in the working world, or to dive right into a four-year program. It also gives you a basic overview of what you can expect in the field, so you can get a better idea of what specific field you might want to get into at the bachelor’s level. For example, you might take introductory biology courses at the associate’s level and learn that medicine really intrigues you. At the bachelor’s level, you can opt to study pharmaceuticals and graduate with a job in pharmacy down the line.
Salaries for the occupations mentioned above will vary as usual, depending on where you work and who you work for. Benefits will vary as well. For example, if you work in a hospital setting like Kaiser Permanente, you may receive amazing benefits such as family health, vision, and dental benefits, all on top of a competitive salary. You may also get a generous amount of paid time off and vacation time, too. Working in a hospital setting can be really rewarding for the right person because it gives people the opportunity to help cure sick patients and make a difference in their communities.
Regardless of what field you plan on getting into, if you enjoy science and research, starting out with an associate’s degree in biology can only help you succeed.