An embryologist works to aid reproductive issues, and the average salary is determined based on whether you specialize in working with humans or animals as well as the degree you hold. Here’s in-depth information on what they earn based on industry.
Learn what an embryologist does and what it takes to earn the education you need to obtain a lucrative salary for the medical scientist world. Find out if this career path is right for you.
What is an Embryologist?
Having a baby is not easy for every couple, so embryology is used to study embryos from the moment of conception. A professional in this role studies early cellular development in the embryos of either humans or animals, and the work can take place in a variety of environments, typically during normal business hours.
They may work in a clinical role with patients and doctors to help people with reproductive issues or focus more on the research or academic side, studying the science of reproduction, embryo fertilization techniques, and the beginning of life as we know it.
No matter which path they choose, the professionals in this field require high empathy and communication skills. The clients they aim to help are going through fertility problems or trying to conceive, which is an emotional subject for many people. You need to explain complex and technical procedures in an easy way and handle the stressful process effectively.
Most people in this career earn at least a master’s degree to follow the clinical path and find jobs in hospitals or fertility clinics. However, there are programs available in reproductive clinical science or developmental biology that will help students advance in both ranks and pay grades quickly.
The daily job includes a variety of responsibilities, from assisting physicians and patients in the clinical field regarding reproductive health issues or embryonic abnormalities to conducting tests on both embryos and eggs or assisting in in-vitro fertilization procedures.
A person in this role may conduct research experiments and explore the genetic makeup of an embryo one day, then collect eggs from patients or assist physicians in clinical procedures the next. They’re always expected to keep confidential records safe, maintain the expensive equipment needed in this role, and stay up-to-date on reproductive biology and fertility subjects.
A clinical role will also involve going over each patient’s medical history, delving in-depth into reproductive history for the best results. You will most likely work as a part of a team, with some handling embryos and sperm, isolating cultures, working with special equipment, or teaching other staff.
In this role, expect to:
- Discuss fertility and common ART procedures with patients
- Perform embryological medical procedures, such as fertility analysis or in-vitro fertilization
- Treat infertility problems
- Collect and process productive gametes obtained from patients
How to Become an Embryologist
Finding a school that offers an embryology degree is rare. However, most students who are interested in embryology earn a bachelor’s degree in biology before obtaining a master’s degree in clinical embryology or a developmental biology doctorate degree.
While you may find an embryology class offered as an elective course at the undergraduate level, the curriculum you’ll study to achieve a bachelor’s degree will follow studying stem cells, genetics, and biochemistry. With a bachelor’s degree, you can find an entry-level position in a research center focused on embryology. A Bachelor of Science in Biology or related biological science major is required.
Graduate student programs are more research and lab intensive, and you will need to complete a research thesis or dissertation to graduate. Many of these courses must be completed in-person, but some prerequisite or lecture-based courses are available online.
A master’s degree in clinical embryology take around 2-3 years to complete, and this degree will prepare you to complete reproductive technology laboratory techniques effectively. These programs are designed for those who want to become physicians, and the students who peruse this degree go on to obtain a senior-level position in assisted reproductive technology laboratories (ART labs).
If you want to enter a non-academic field with your degree, you may find a program that doesn’t require a thesis. Otherwise, expect to write your thesis in your second year of graduate study.
On the other hand, if you want to work with animals, look for an animal science education. You may find an entry-level position with a bachelor’s degree, but most employers will look for a Doctor of Philosophy degree in animal science or veterinary medicine degree. You’ll focus on mammalian embryos, but also work with flies and turtles who have a different fetal development process.
A Doctor of Philosophy degree in developmental biology will allow you to earn an advanced research position or teach in the field. Doctoral students complete a dissertation and study advanced lab work in the following subjects to prepare them for an esteemed career path:
- Cell biology
Because the field is always developing and evolving, there are constant changes and you may need to complete additional training in the future. Expect to complete an ongoing education in this ever-evolving field.
Where Do Embryologists Work?
Entry-level positions typically include working as a science technician at a stem cell research lab or perhaps in a fertility clinic. Advanced positions are available with a graduate degree, which leads to careers in advanced research roles.
Most work full time in a laboratory setting, and they may need to work after hours to take care of particularly sensitive lab experiments from time to time. They can work in a:
- Fertility clinic
- University or college
- Commercial industry
The type of work you complete will vary drastically based on the type of industry you choose. Academic roles often include teaching at the high school or university-level, and teachers in this field are qualified to fill animal-centered positions found in university research labs.
Every research facility is also different. Research facilities may involve working with reproductive technology to help human patients, livestock, or zoo animals. If you prefer to work with human embryos, you’ll find lucrative positions as a clinical embryologist. If you prefer to breed animals, you can assist in reproduction or focus on technology.
Doctoral degrees, however, are required for most upper-level positions or to become a professor at a research university. Finding work at a university will allow you to teach new professionals in the field while receiving the resources you need to conduct your own embryonic research studies and find new ways to help both people and animals conceive.
How Much Does the Average Embryologist Make?
Entry-level positions may make lower wages than their more experienced counterparts, like many other professions. Most professionals find roles in biomedical research that’s funded by the federal government, although industries and specialties each offer varying average salaries.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups embryologists who focus on humans and hold doctorate degrees in with salary info on biochemists and biophysicists, which bring home an average salary of $91,190. These positions are on the rise, with the BLS projecting an 11% growth in jobs by the year 2026. Industries such as wholesale trade, scientific consulting, and research and development in life sciences pay among the highest wages according to the BLS, with over $100,000 per year.
Those who work with animal embryos, on the other hand, are grouped in with the animal scientists who make a mean wage of $68,840 per year. These professions typically complete a bachelor’s degree before obtaining a graduate degree. They study veterinary medicine or developmental biology at the advanced graduate level, but there are also entry-level jobs available with a bachelor’s degree.
The most popular careers in clinical embryology include:
- High school science teacher
- Lab animal husbandry
- Andrology science technician
- Fertility clinic scientist
- Andrology lab director
- Senior clinical embryologist
Pay varies based on industry as well, with the lowest paid occupation taking place in high schools, colleges, or universities while the highest paid professionals work in scientific research and development services or the animal food manufacturing industries.
According to LinkedIn reports on embryologist salary information in the United States, the average base salary is $66,100 per year, no matter which industry or specialty they pursue. The top paying location based on this study is in New York City, with salaries ranging from $60,000 per year to $129,000.
Embryologist Salary Information Based on Location
Some states have a greater need for embryologists and pay higher wages. The states that pay the highest wages in recent years, according to the BLS, include:
- Massachusetts – $111,350
- California – $105,460
- Illinois – $101,450
- Indiana – $101,180
- Texas – $100,250
Similar Career Paths
Similar to the role of embryologists, a microbiologist will study smaller organisms like viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi instead or humans and animals. Depending on which organism you choose to specialize in, you could find work with as little as a bachelor’s degree or earn a Ph.D. to complete your own independent research at a university.
Finding the career path that’s right for you will come down to your interest, but you may also want to consider which degrees are available at the universities near you. The more education you need, the more financial aid or scholarship opportunities you may require. Make sure the amount of time your education takes is worth the price, considering the salary you expect to make once you graduate.