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Careers in Biotechnology

From genetic manipulation to bio-fuel, biotechnology influences our lives in more ways than we can imagine. Having gained popularity after WW II with the birth of genetic engineering, biotechnology is now adapted in myriad industries, opening up great career options. In US alone, a total of 2,946 biotech businesses were recorded in 2019.

It’s a field worth exploring. Here’s what we look at in this article:

  • What is Biotechnology?
  • Categories of Biotechnology
  • Career Options in Biotechnology
  • Top Universities for Biotechnology
What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology covers various discipline includinggenetics, biochemistry, molecular biology. Simply put –  biotechnology is the use of cellular and biomolecular processes to develop or create products/technology that will help improve our lives.

Here are few of the ways  in which it has helped us

  • Reduce rates of infectious disease
  • Create more precise tools for disease detection
  • Cut greenhouse gas emissions by 52% or more by using biofuel
  • Save (potentially) $4.1 billion annually by lowering the temperature for cleaning
  • Produce foods free of allergens and toxins (like mycotoxin)
  • Use of bio-tech crops that needs lesser application of pesticides
Categories of Biotechnology

Biotechnology is broadly classified into four major categories, i.e.

  1. Green Biotechnology: Technology that deals with agricultural processes (crop production and agriculture)
  2. Red Biotechnology: Technology that deals with medical application (heath care)
  3. Blue Biotechnology: Technology thatdeals withaquatic and marine applications of biotechnology
  4. White Biotechnology: Technology that deals with industrial processes.

Industries

Career Options in Biotechnology

From working in research lab to joining professional careers in the health sciences, there are countless career options. Let us look at few of it-

Biomedical Engineer:

Typical duties:

  • Design, develop, test, implement new biomedical devices and equipment
  • Design, test and implement new medical procedures
  • Install and maintain biomedical equipment
  • Train clinicians and medical personnel to use medical equipment
  • Liaison with medical, engineering and scientific staff
  • Write reports, publish the research and make recommendations accordingly
  • Present research findings to scientist and other stakeholders, including the public

Typical employers:

  • Hospitals
  • Diagnostic/medical instrumentation manufacturers
  • Universities
  • Research organisations
  • Educational qualification: A Bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, biomedical science, electrical engineering or physics. A Master’s degree in the same will be an added bonus.
Agricultural Technician

Typical duties:

  • Collect, evaluate and verify crop and animal samples
  • Develop protocol to store crop, animal sample and/or specimen sample
  • Test, operate and maintain (farming) equipment for agricultural production
  • Check/examine crops and/or other specimen against diseases to meet safety standards
  • Identify weed, insect, or disease issues in crops to provide management options
  • Maintain (detailed) records of management an experimental data
  • Perform test to evaluate seed viability

Typical employers:

  • Laboratories
  • Farms
  • Processing Plants
  • Greenhouse
  • State/Central department of Agriculture
  • Educational qualification: Diploma or degree-level qualification in Agricultural Science. A degree in biology, chemistry, crop or animal science, or a related field may also be accepted depending on the employer.
Bioinformatician

Typical duties:

  • Develop systems to gather data
  • Create data algorithms and specialized computer software to identify, classify components of a biological system
  • Develop new software for scientific/technical use
  • Analyse large molecular datasets for clinical or basic research purposes
  • Assist/direct technicians and information technology staff
  • Design and apply bioinformatics algorithms

Typical employers:

  • Biotechnology company
  • Hospital
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • Biomedical company
  • Research institutions
  • Educational qualification: Normally, a PhD is required, and a degree in medical sciences.
Microbiologist

Typical duties:

  • Grow microbe cultures
  • Develop new pharmaceutical products, vaccines, medicines, compounds etc.
  • Ensure health and safety standards
  • Track development of environmental microorganism
  • Record, analyse, and interpret data
  • Plan and carry out trials
  • Manage laboratories

Typical employers:

  • Public and private sector organisations
  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Public health and private laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • Biochemical company
  • Biotechnology companies
  • Universities
  • Research institutions
  • Food and drink manufacturers
  • Educational qualification: At least, a Bachelor’s degree in relevant fields like biology, applied biology, microbiology, microbial science, biological or biomedical science.
Food Scientist

Typical duties:

  • Test food, food additives, and/o food containers to ensure compliance with safety standards
  • Test food samples for particular types of yeasts, moulds, or bacterial that may be harmful
  • Evaluate the nutritional value, flavour, colour and texture of food
  • Produce new food products
  • Investigate and set standards for food safety and quality
  • Establish low-cost food production method
  • Explore alternative manufacturing methods

Typical employers

  • Food manufacturing companies
  • Retail companies
  • Universities
  • Government organisations
  • Specialist research associations
  • Educational qualification: ABachelor’s degree in food science/technology, nutrition, food/chemical engineering, biochemistry, microbiology or chemistry.
Geneticists

Typical duties:

  • Extract DNA or perform diagnostic tests
  • Conduct lab research and experiments
  • Analyse genetic data and publish research
  • Interpret, reviewor approve genetic lab results
  • Document processes and results
  • communicate results of findings
  • supervising/assist/direct the work of other personnel working on genetics projects

Typical employer:

  • Hospitals
  • Research institutions
  • Universities
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • Agricultural company
  • Horticultural company
  • Biotechnology and genetic engineering company
  • Educational qualification: At least a Bachelor’s degree in relevant life science fields- biomedical science, genetics, biology, microbiologyand biochemistry. However, a Master’s degree and PhD is recommended.
Laboratory Technicians

Typical duties:

  • Record and analyse data
  • Conduct, support scientific investigations and experiments
  • Plan, setup and undertake controlled experiments and trials
  • Collect, prepare or test samples
  • Carry out risk assessment
  • Maintain, clean and test sterility of equipment
  • Demonstrate procedures

Typical employer:

  • Universities
  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Pharmaceutical company
  • Chemical company
  • Food and drink company
  • Research organisation
  • Educational qualification: A scientific degree in biology, biochemistry, chemistry or physics.
Top Universities for Biotechnology

To pursue a degree in biotechnology, here’s a list of some of the globally ranked universities offering a Master’s degree in biotechnology and/or related study.

UniversityCountry
Harvard UniversityThe United States
Stanford UniversityThe United States
University of ChicagoThe United States
Johns Hopkins UniversityThe United States
ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of TechnologySwitzerland
Imperial College LondonThe United Kingdom
The University of EdinburghThe United Kingdom
The University of MelbourneAustralia
University of CopenhagenDenmark
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität MünchenGermany
The University of British ColumbiaCanada

Depending on your educational background and professional interests, you can choose the sub-field of biotechnology discussed. As Global Biotechnology Reagents Industry reports, the global market for biotechnology is set to reach US$106 Billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 6.4% from 2020-2027. As the figures suggest, biotechnology will continue to be a great career option. Choosing this field now will ensure that you will be on the right side of the skills gap in a growing sector.

Date added
14.10.2020

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