Advancements in biotechnology can bring positive change to many types of institutions, from hospitals to pharmaceutical companies. Professionals with biotechnology degrees can gain a specialized education and preparation to take on the emerging careers in this discipline.
Biotechnology professionals perform an array of tasks, from research and analysis to writing reports. Below are examples of common responsibilities amongst these professionals:
- Collecting and preparing samples for analysis in a laboratory
- Developing or evaluating biotech equipment to ensure maximum safety and effectiveness
- Analyzing the effects of drugs, hormones and environmental factors through experimentation
- Documenting, verifying and interpreting experimental results
- Preparing research papers, technical reports and other written communications for scientific review
Coursework in Biotechnology Degree Programs
Students' individual course loads depend on their school, but there are many concepts that individuals in biotechnology programs and other relevant biology programs tend to study. Below are some examples:
- Cell biology
- Organic chemistry
Students often take elective courses, which they can select in accordance with their intended career.
Qualifying for a Career in Biotechnology
As with coursework, biotech professionals' level of education depends on their career focus. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), entry-level biomedical engineers generally have a bachelor's degree, and entry-level biochemists and biophysicists may have either a bachelor's or master's degree. Students who wish to conduct independent research projects often need a PhD.
Career Outlook for Professionals with Biotechnology Degrees
Careers in biotechnology are on the rise, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data. Below are some careers relevant to biotechnology, with BLS data on 2013 median annual wage and 2012-22 national projected growth:
- Biomedical engineers: $88,670, 27 percent growth
- Biochemists and biophysicists: $84,320, 19 percent
- Biological technicians: $40,710, 10 percent
Demand for medicine for the aging baby-boomer population may help drive growth for biomedical engineers, biochemists and biophysicists, according to the BLS. The BLS also explains the need for biological technicians in several industries. In the medical field, they can help scientists develop new treatments for Alzheimer's disease, whereas in agriculture, they can aid in biotech research that aims to foster greater crop yields and reduce the need for pesticide and fertilizer.
Students looking for more information on biotechnology degrees and careers can contact schools or visit the Biotechnology Industry Organization website.
"Biochemists and Biophysicists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biochemists-and-biophysicists.htm
"19-1021 Biochemists and Biophysicists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191021.htm
"Biological Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/biological-technicians.htm
"19-4021 Biological Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes194021.htm
"Biomedical Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2014-15 Edition, www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/biomedical-engineers.htm
"17-2031 Biomedical Engineers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, June 6, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031.htm
Biotechnology Industry Organization, http://www.bio.org/