Last Updated: August 09, 2021

Biotechnology as a Career

Biotechnology is one of the rapidly growing sectors around the world. It offers a combination of technology and innovative approaches that deal with research and development in the field of sciences. It is interdisciplinary and diverse in nature with tremendous opportunities designed for those students who are high achievers.

Biotechnology as a subject is vast. It is an advanced scientific discipline that stems from the subject of biology and applied sciences. It basically involves the amalgamation of biology and technology and also encompasses in-depth knowledge of engineering, botany, embryology, immunology, genomics, and medicine with biology. Biotechnology being an area that has benefited various industrial sectors has revolutionized the world, improved life, lifestyle, and impacted our environment predominantly. It also had a major role in the mitigation of diseases and viruses, including covid-19, giving way to the development and formulation of effective vaccines during the covid-19 pandemic.

Biotechnology has a significant role in every sector of scientific research, making it inevitable that the number of jobs on offer will be very high in the future. Hence it is also a very popular course. It has a broad spectrum of applications in various fields such as agriculture, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, environmental sciences, animal sciences, human sciences, medical sciences, etc. Considered widely as the new IT, the industry is estimated to grow at a very high compounded annual rate for the next few decades.

Job Prospects

According to different predominant sectors and research areas, biotechnology has been categorized into several parts based on colors, such as red biotechnology, green biotechnology, blue biotechnology, white biotechnology, yellow biotechnology, grey biotechnology, gold biotechnology, and violet biotechnology. There are various job opportunities available with many different companies in various industries upon graduation. While some jobs do require a graduate-level degree (because of their need for qualified personnel who are experts in their field), most jobs can be joined after an undergraduate degree (a training period will be present before starting the job). The many different areas of possible work are:
Biotechnology is an asset to society, and it makes a significant appearance in every field of science and medicine. Job opportunities are abundant in this field with great pay scales all around the world.

Career Options for Biotechnology Undergraduates

An undergraduate degree in biotechnology consists of an extensive 3 to 4 years, providing students with essential foundational groundwork. This prepares students to have a clear picture of what they would want to pursue hereafter. Having an undergraduate degree in biotechnology can make a student qualified enough to start a career through entry-level jobs such as a lab technician, research assistant, biology technician, food science technician, or animal scientist.

Career Options for Biotechnology Graduates

Biotechnology involves the combination of biology and technology and encompasses in-depth knowledge of engineering, botany, virology, embryology, immunology, pharmacology, and medicine with biology. This provides great opportunities for students to focus on any of these specializations and pursue a higher degree of knowledge by acquiring a master's degree, or even a doctoral degree thereafter. The higher the level of degree the more demand there is for the candidate, making it easier and beneficial for the student to get hired. Pursuing a master's degree in biotechnology takes 2 years, and an additional four to six years for a doctorate. Internships and volunteering for research work, or an experience as an assistant, along with the required practical skills, besides academic excellence, is a bonus.

Becoming a biotechnologist is a broad career prospect. Responsibilities include conducting research and doing a detailed examination of organisms and tissues, how they are formed, and understanding how they can be effectively utilized for aspects that benefit society, the environment, and humankind. They are required to frequently research, study, conduct experiments, interpret data obtained through samples and specimens, and report or even publish them under government supervision, or any other organization.

Being a biotechnologist requires having profound knowledge about the subject with updated information, having the desired skills in calculations, computer programming, communication, and most importantly, being adept at technology and handling several different lab equipment. It has a great scope to bring about major improvements, apply the knowledge in real-life situations, and even make a major impact on the world by bringing forth ideas and innovations, and spreading awareness. As a biotechnologist, one can focus or specialize in bioinformatics, biodefense, biofuel, medical, industrial, and environmental biotechnology.

Popular Career Options for Students with Biotechnology Degree

The most popular careers for students in the field of biotechnology are:

Agriculture/Food Scientist

Being a food scientist involves extensive research to design and develop innovative tools, methods, or techniques that aid in the advancement of the quality of food, the production, processing, packing, preservation, and even consumption. They are required to conduct various experiments, and tests, monitor food samples to check the ingredients and their value (presence of microbes, essential bacteria, and nutrients), and thereby implement creative ideas and methods which will help produce food that is of a higher quality and be cost-effective at the same time. The setting differs depending on the area of specialization. On an industrial level, the food scientist mainly focuses on manufacturing, packaging, etc., and works with other scientists in the field in laboratories or factories. Agricultural food scientists collaborate with farmers to observe the agricultural procedures and help with crop yields. The food scientist should be skilled at various software and machinery involving food processing or packaging.
Qualification and Salary To work as a food scientist on a preliminary level (as a food science technician mostly), having an undergraduate degree is essential along with training or internship experience. To work at a deeper level of research one needs to pursue a master's degree or even a doctoral degree. The average annual income of a food scientist on a starting level is approximately $66,000, and may later increase up to $90,000 approximately, based on location and experience.

Microbiologist

Given that biotechnology plays a major role in the mitigation of diseases and viruses, it paved the way for the development of effective vaccines during the covid-19 pandemic. It is evident how it gives great scope for students to specialize in microbiology and become a microbiologist. Microbiologists study and conduct extensive research on these microscopic organisms such as viruses, bacteria, algae, etc., to analyze several existing problems in society, affecting health, the environment, wildlife, industries, or climate. Through research, they develop measures and methods for its mitigation, diagnosis, and prevention of various deadly diseases, and develop green technologies by understanding the roles of microbes.
Qualification and Salary The average annual income on a starting level may be estimated to be around $45,000 to $55,000. Keeping in mind the qualifications, skills, and experience, it may be approximately $70,000. A graduate degree in biotechnology with a special focus on microbiology is essential to be a microbiologist. Pursuing a doctorate or even a post-doctorate is highly beneficial for better research positions and independent research.

Epidemiologists

As the name suggests, an epidemiologist specializes in the study of epidemics and studies the history, causes, and effects of various infectious organisms that spread diseases. They are typically interested in a variety of often seemingly unrelated items, which may involve diet, living arrangements, hygiene habits, socialization, and sexual behavior. The epidemiologist focuses on discovering and researching various factors like genes, environment, behaviors, habits, food, and living conditions in order to find clear results that make the majority of people vulnerable to certain illnesses. The epidemiologist collects data through observation and experimentation and then records the results, reports findings to the government, the academic sector, and public health media. The epidemiologist is also required to spread awareness as well as find and develop preventive methods against the spread of infections.
Qualification and Salary The annual average base income of an epidemiologist can range from $60,000 to $95,000 approximately, based on the educational qualifications, expertise, and experience. A medical degree or even a master's degree in biotechnology is required to pursue a career as an epidemiologist. In order to strengthen knowledge, academic background, and conduct independent and intensive research, one should opt for a Ph.D. degree.

Biological Technician

Biological technicians are required to assist researchers or work under scientists, microbiologists, or biologists, conduct scientific tests, keep detailed logs and records of findings, conduct experiments, and observe or analyze various test samples. They must be highly innovative, attentive to detail, collect samples based on experiments conducted on various organisms, and analyze and interpret the data received. Furthermore, they are responsible for setting up, operating, and maintaining the cleanliness of various lab equipment to prevent contamination. Biological technicians also work in many research areas. Their daily duties may involve administering new medicines, studying and analyzing bacteria or microbes, identifying organisms, etc.
Qualification and Salary Due to the increased competition in this industry, starting a career as a biological technician is beneficial. A four-year undergraduate degree in biotechnology or any related field is sufficient to start a career as a biological technician. Being an entry-level job, the average annual income will be around $45,000 to $50,000.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers are required to come up with creative approaches to provide solutions to various problems concerning healthcare. They collaborate with scientists from different fields, doctors, and engineers to understand various issues that exist, and design and develop high-quality and effective healthcare methods or products for patients of different ages and needs. Biomedical engineering is the application of these innovative thinking and problem-solving techniques of engineering in biology and medicine. A Biomedical engineer is supposed to be skilled in computer programming and handling various complex lab equipment and software, and have a sound knowledge of technology, medicine, and marketing to produce the best health care methods.
Qualification and Salary An undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering or biotechnology is usually sufficient to start a career as a biomedical engineer. However, pursuing a master's degree will further strengthen the qualification for the job along with strengthening the knowledge in this field. The average annual income of a biomedical engineer is approximately $69,000 and may further increase up to $95,000 based on location, experience, and expertise.

Other Popular Options

Even though biotechnology has a significant role to play in the growth of various industries and has brought revolutionizing changes in the field of health, food, environment, and climate, some students might not find it suitable to pursue a career directly involved in scientific research. They might as well lose focus or the drive to continue what was started, during the process of study. For such students, there are a number of alternate career paths that promise a bright future. A lot of times biotechnology B.S. graduates go for advanced degrees. For instance, M.D. (Medicine) to follow a career involved in pharmaceuticals, healthcare informatics, or a medical science liaison. Some choose to pursue M.B.A. (Business) to work towards a more business-oriented career like Quality Assurance Associate, and Biotech Marketing. A few pursue J.D. (Law) to focus extensively on biotechnology issues and the related regulations. One may also decide to enter the area of academia and become a biotechnology professor, or even become a science writer.


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