Interested in the exciting and innovative field of biotechnology?
There’s so much you can do if you get a job in biotech! Whether that involves helping to treat complex diseases or creating more sustainable processes for various industries, there’s something for everyone who wants to make a difference in the world.
What, exactly, does a biotechnologist do?
A biotechnologist studies the physical, genetic, and chemical attributes of organisms, tissues, and cells. This is to develop new products and technologies that will improve human health and wellbeing.
With that in mind, let’s look at what you’ll need to do in order to carve out a career for yourself as a biotechnologist. We’ll start with the important educational requirements you’ll need.
Biotechnology Careers: What Are The Education Requirements?
If you want to become a biotechnologist, you’ll have to have the required education behind you. Once you’ve graduated from high school, you will have to study a Bachelor’s Degree, which is usually a four-year course. For this degree, you can major in biotechnology.
Often, a postgraduate degree such as a masters (or even a PhD) is required. While this isn’t necessarily a requirement, it’s worth bearing in mind that more than half of biotechnology job postings require a graduate-level degree, so it’s definitely something valuable to own.
Doing a master’s degree is beneficial in other ways. It boosts your resume to prospective employers and can also be a fantastic way to provide you with more expertise in one part of biotechnology that you’re interested in.
When it comes to studying even further, if your main interest in biotechnology is in academia or research, doing a PhD after your master’s is a good idea to enhance your education and improve your job opportunities.
Where To Study? Some Of The Best Universities Where To Study Biotechnology
Although there are many universities to choose from when you want to study biotechnology, there are some special ones that are seriously worth considering to enhance your education experience and prime you for a career in the field! Let’s look at four top biotech universities in the U.S.
This is one of the top rated schools in the U.S. where you can study biotechnology. It’s a public institution located in West Lafayette, Indiana, that offers students a BS in Biology with a concentration in Biotechnology.
The program will teach you many valuable subjects, such as the principles of biochemistry, recombinant DNA techniques, and cell and tissue culture. After completing the program, you’ll be able to work in a biotech career or go on to study further.
If you want to focus on research, you’ll love that the university really prioritizes this aspect of your learning.
You’ll be taught modern biology that’s infused with the latest exciting discoveries in the industry. The university also encourages students to conduct their own research, such as with faculty support.
University of Georgia
The University of Georgia’s biological sciences program is ranked in the top 50 of the U.S., so it’s definitely a promising way to lay the foundation for an exciting career in biotechnology.
When you study a two-year Applied Biotechnology major, you’ll take biotech classes that include molecular genetics and molecular biology. After that you’ll have to choose a major, such as Food Science or Plant Science, to mention just two options.
With a solid reputation behind it, the University of Georgia is one of the oldest state universities in the U.S. (it was founded in 1785!) and one of the most renowned when it comes to biotechnology.
One of the biggest benefits of studying biotechnology at the University of Georgia is that joining the program will enable you to take many extracurriculars, such as joining student organizations like the Food Science Club or Horticulture Club.
Best of all, there are internship opportunities that could help you fast-track your career.
University of California Davis
At the University of California Davis, where staff members include Nobel Peace prize winners, you’ll be well positioned for a career in biotechnology because the university’s biological sciences program is ranked 18th in the country.
What’s great about studying here is that you have the opportunity to specialize during your BS in Biotechnology after two years of general education study. You can specialize in exciting courses such as Plant Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Animal Biotechnology, and Microbial Biotechnology.
To set you up with a career in biotechnology, the university offers internships that have already helped other students’ careers to flourish. Previous company placements include Bayer HealthCare and Planet Biotechnology, just to mention two.
University of Rhode Island
Located in South Kingstown, the University of Rhode Island offers a slightly different (and intriguing) biotechnology course. Here you’ll achieve your BS in Medical Laboratory Science with a focus on Biotechnology, but the course is what’s known as a 1+3 format.
What this means is that in your first year you’ll have full-time and intensive coursework to do but then you’ll do a full-time internship and take part-time classes.
This is a fantastic way to help you gain practical knowledge while you’re studying. The part-time courses that you’ll take include Genetics, Immunology and Serology, and Physiology
As a bonus, the classes have a 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio, so you’re guaranteed of being a name, not just a number.
What Else Do You Need Besides For Degrees?
Degrees aside, you’ll also need to complete internships. You’ll find that a large number of undergraduate biotechnology or applied science programs will have internships included in them.
The reason why internships are important if you want to become a biotechnologist is because it will bring you into the field in a more practical way and show you exactly what work you’ll be doing.
It’s usually the case that after you have completed your Bachelor’s Degree you can choose to do practical work in the form of internships. This can help you to find out where you want to go in your biotechnology career while helping you to achieve valuable experience in the process.
As we’ve seen in the biotechnology courses listed earlier, many of the best colleges in the U.S. where you can study biotechnology also give you opportunities to complete internships.
This is ideal as it helps you to gain work experience while you’re still studying, thus giving you an edge over other job seekers.
Can You Learn Biotechnology Online?
There are many online biotechnology courses that are free and can help you to build your skillset as well as advance your learning.
edX is a resource that’s worth checking out because it offers biotechnology courses from a variety of leading institutions all around the world.
Apart from the above, there are also distance-learning opportunities for doing your Bachelor’s Degree in biotechnology.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that even if you take an online course, you might still be required to attend some real-life classes. It’s therefore a must to find out what will be required of you before you sign up to an online course!
When it comes to doing a master’s degree in biotechnology online, you can expect to take about two years to complete it but the coursework will vary and you might find that some online programs will require you to attend laboratory classes offline or at the same time as other students.
This makes sense because biotechnology is focused on teamwork!
Important Skills You Will Need As A Biotechnologist
Of course, having the educational requirements to work in biotechnology isn’t enough. You’ll need to ensure that you have the correct skills in order to do well in your job as well as enjoy it.
The most valuable skills you’ll need to have if you want to become a biotechnologist include knowledge about your field and staying up to date when it comes to the latest developments in research. That said, your personality also plays an important role.
As is the case with choosing any career, your personality should be considered as this will ensure that you can do the best in your work while staying committed to it. Some other important skills you’ll need in the field of biotechnology include the following:
- You need to be an analytical person who likes solving and predicting problems that could arise.
- You need to be thorough and pay attention to detail.
- You need to be computer literate and use the most popular software in a competent way.
- You need to have clear written as well as oral communication skills, and be able to work well in a team. Oral and written skills are important because you need to effectively explain and report your findings to people in your team.
Starting A Career In Bioinformatics Biotechnology
If you like the idea of working with computers in the biotechnology industry, a career in bioinformatics might appeal to you.
To achieve this, you’ll need to have the right education as a foundation. This means a degree in Bioinformatics is required if you want to be a specialist in things like data analysis.
This is important because if you work in bioinformatics, you’ll need to do tasks that include collecting biological data such as DNA and genome information, storing it, analyzing it, and presenting it.
You might be able to do a programme that incorporates biotechnology with bioinformatics, which is usually a five-year course that covers a variety of important subjects, such as engineering, physical sciences, and biology.
Many positions in bioinformatics careers require you to have a graduate degree. That said, you can find entry-level jobs if you have a bachelor’s degree. It’s important to gain experience, however, by taking on entry-level positions, internships, and/or federal work-study programs.
Make sure you join a professional network as this can be highly valuable in helping you meet like-minded people and even learn about job opportunities that are available. Good networks include the Bioinformatics Organization and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.
When it comes to choosing where to work, you’ll be able to choose from a variety of institutions, such as pharmaceutical companies, software companies, and biotech companies.
There are many biotechnology jobs that you could take advantage of if you work in bioinformatics. These include working as a clinical pharmacologist, computational chemist, informatics developer, and more.
What Your Biotechnology Career Will Be Like
When choosing a career, it’s useful to consider what type of job you’ll do on a daily basis. If you work in biotechnology, you’ll probably work in a lab, at a university, or at a research facility.
In order to get a clearer picture of what your work will be like as a biotechnologist, let’s look at the four main types of biotechnology and see what a career in those branches of the field will be like.
A Career In Environmental Biotechnology
If you work as an environmental biotechnologist, you will be focused on sourcing and using microorganisms from the environment to improve human health, such as by using bacteria or enzymes to reduce pollution.
You’ll also be researching and investigating alternative renewable sources of energy, such as biogas, as well as producing eco-friendly raw materials that can be used in various industries. An example is biodegradable plastic.
A Career In Industrial Biotechnology
If you work in industrial biotechnology, your duties might involve producing and cloning enzymes that can be used in the manufacturing of food.
You will also look at crops and how to make them yield better numbers, such as by developing pest-resistant plants that are genetically engineered. You could be involved in producing biological dyes and detergents to make the textile industry more sustainable, or working towards improving the quality of animal feed.
A Career In Medical Biotechnology
If you work as a medical biotechnologist, you will be studying human genetics so as to research treatment options for conditions such as cancer or other diseases.
You’ll also be studying antibodies, proteins, plants, fungi, bacteria, and more in order to develop hormones, vaccines, and therapies for various health conditions.
A Career In Marine Biotechnology
In marine biotechnology, you’ll be focusing on discovering and deriving organisms from the ocean that can be used to improve human wellness. An example is sourcing organisms from the ocean for use in the medical field.
Marine biotechnology also focuses on using the ocean as inspiration to find new sources of energy, like making biofuel from microalgae.
Marine biotechnology benefits the industrial branch of biotechnology a lot, such as when it comes to producing enzymes and proteins that can be sourced from the marine ecosystem and used to make industrial processes smoother and cleaner.
There are many other branches of biotechnology besides for these four main ones. To find out more about them, read “Types of Biotechnology Explained: 4 Biotech Colors.”
What Future Job Prospects Are Available For Biotechnology Careers?
If you’re interested in a career in biotechnology, you might be wondering if there’s a good future in this field.
After all, after investing money, time and effort into studying biotechnology, you want to be sure that there will be jobs available for you and that a career in biotechnology will enable you to have long-term potential.
Well, the good news is that biotechnology is booming and there’s a large amount of jobs available in the industry. Generally speaking, the biotech industry creates approximately $140 billion in revenue and in the U.S. bioscience firms employ over 1.6 million people, as Medical Technology Schools reports.
The choice to go ahead with a career in biotechnology is a solid one because the world will always have problems that scientists need to find solutions to.
For example, in medical biotechnology, medicines and health treatments always need to be improved. On the other hand, working as an environmental biotechnologist means that you’ll be finding ways to preserve the environment, such as when it comes to finding and developing solutions for climate change.
Benefits Of A Biotechnology Career
There are many advantages linked to having a career in biotechnology. These include the following:
The Opportunity To Make A Difference
How exciting to be in a career that can enable you to make a real difference in the world! Whether you’re working in a biotech company or lab, in an office or in the sales department of a firm, you’ll be contributing to helping people live better lives.
One of the best things about working in the biotechnology field is that you’ll be in a high-tech, exciting, and innovative environment.
The Chance To Work With Likeminded People
The field of biotechnology is exciting, and what makes it so is the team you’ll be working with. You’ll be surrounded by ambitious, intelligent, and motivated people who are just like you! These connections can also help you to forge ahead with your career goals.
There’s A Lot Of Room To Grow
It’s not just being surrounded by intelligent people that will help you move forward, but having the foundation of education and experience will enable you to move your way up in a biotechnology career of your choice.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the biotechnology sector is predicted to achieve a seven percent growth rate between 2018 and 2028. While this might not seem like a lot, it’s a faster growth rate than many other professions that sit at a five percent rate.
What Salary Can Expect As A Biotechnologist?
Although money should never be your main priority when choosing a career, you obviously want to know how much you could earn in biotechnology.
Entry-level biotechnologists tend to earn a starting salary of approximately $56,000 per year, as PayScale reports. But the type of biotechnology career that you decide to have will obviously influence this amount.
For example, a microbiologist can earn a median entry-level salary of $47,118, while a biochemist can earn a median entry-level salary of $55,000.
A medical writer earns a lot more than that – you’re looking at an average entry-level salary of $68,440 – while a biomedical engineer can earn around $62,135 in an entry-level job position, as Best Colleges reports.
What Are The Most In-Demand Biotechnology Jobs?
If you’re thinking of having a career in biotechnology but you want to ensure that you choose a career path that will ensure a good income as well as provide you with many job opportunities, then it’s important to consider what the most popular and in-demand biotechnology jobs are.
Here’s a rundown of jobs to consider.
Biomedical engineers combine biology and engineering to come up with solutions to various problems.
They can design devices for improved healthcare treatments or medical software, for example. Their average pay is around $88,000 and this career has a projected growth of seven percent by 2026.
If you want to study living things and are interested in biological processes, such as cell growth and disease, a career as a biochemist can be a good choice for you.
As a biochemist, you’ll be researching the effect of hormones and medicines on the body and working towards finding treatments and products that can be valuable to human health.
A biochemist can make an average salary of approximately $91,000, with this career choice having the potential growth of 11 percent by 2026.
With an average salary of approximately $80,000, a biomanufacturing specialist makes use of various tools and methods to ensure that products meet strict requirements during the manufacturing process, such as when it comes to their purity and safety.
This is an important job because biomanufacturing processes make use of large-scale production to treat human illnesses. They therefore need to follow strict state, industry, and federal standards to ensure the highest quality possible.
When it comes to the salary you can expect from a certain biotechnology job, it’s interesting to note that often jobs in the medical biotechnology field pay some of the highest salaries.
This can be partly as a result of how almost 90 percent of money that’s invested in biotechnology research is given to the pharmaceutical sector, as the Careers In Biotechnology guide reports.
That said, biotechnology as a whole has been steadily growing and this will likely continue into the future.
Some of the careers that are the fastest growing include working as a lab technician, scientist, animal technician, environmental science and protection technician, computer engineer, and database administrator.
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics has stated that biotech careers are predicted to rise by over 10 percent over the next 10 years!
The U.S. And China: How Do They Fare In Biotechnology Education?
There’s evidence to suggest that the U.S. dominates biotechnology education. This has been seen in research such as the following: one-third of all students in the U.S. come from China, as a U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report has found.
By having more opportunities in the U.S., students from all over the world can benefit from them.
But that’s not the end of the story by any means!
Many students in China who graduate from U.S. educational institutions actually return to China to establish innovative companies in their home country.
China is building its education opportunities in biotechnology. While biotechnology has been present in China for many years, it’s been reserved to research activities at institutes and universities.
But recently, biotechnology companies are increasing in the country, and this is increasing the demand for biotechnological skills in the workforce. Therefore, there’s an increased need for biotechnology in education.
The country is definitely increasing its focus on biotechnology. The biotech industry has increased phenomenally over the last few decades in China.
There are good reasons for this, such as that China has less strict rules when it comes to sharing medical information as compared to the U.S. and the Chinese government is investing billions of money into biotech development and research.
While China might not be considered to be one of the biggest biotech countries, the future will probably hold a different story.
How many people in the U.S. work in the biopharmaceutical industry?
Over 80,000 people work in the biopharmaceutical industry in the U.S., as Select USA reports. In 2018, there were more than 130,000 employees in biotech jobs, Seed Scientific reports.
How many biotech companies are in the U.S.?
2019 stats report that there are approximately 2,946 biotech businesses, as Seed Scientific reports.
If you’re interested in biology and technology, a career in biotechnology might interest you. However, there’s a difference between being interested in something and actually pursuing a career in it.
In this article, we’ve outlined everything you need to know about choosing biotechnology as a career, from the skills you need, where to study to get the best education, and what you can expect when working in your career.