Have you ever wondered what the scope of life overall is in the field of biotechnology? Are you a grad school student who is currently enrolled in the biotechnology department and wants to know what options he/she has? are you interested in doing your bachelors or masters in biotechnology but does not know if its worth it? Do you wish to pursue a career in biotechnology outside your country? Most of all, our community has set this narrow spectrum of careers in biotechnology that we are limited to the boundaries of that thinking BUT do you want to know how broad it is? Well, read on because this article covers all about how to pursue a career in biotechnology and what to do after you have decided to pursue a career in biotechnology.
The word Biotechnology refers to the exploitation of biological processes for industrial and other purposes, especially playing with the genes of microorganisms for the betterment of the society i.e production of antibiotics, hormones and many more.
When we think about a biotechnologist we usually picture a scientist in a lab coat developing and working on some drugs or a medical device but then again thats the only capacity we have been told to think about. Labwork is not the only career for biotech grads. Biotechnologists have many paths to choose and each of them is as critical as the one discussed above.
Scope and Jobs
There’s always good news for biotechnologists as this vast field of work is updated daily and there are always new recruits or scientists required. The biotechnology industry is a heavy economic driver which generates approximately $150 billion in revenue. Currently, the US biotechnology firms employ more than 1.7 million people and even after this the demand increases (Cheers Pakistanis) because of rapid innovation and the need for skilled professionals.
The Question here is, what types of jobs are available in the biotechnology industry? What skills will you need to get a decent position in the job market? A Senior Officer in the Biotech Field shares his views regarding how to pursue a career in biotechnology.
Kevin Broadbelt (MS in Biotechnology)
“What most people don’t realize about biotechnology,” Broadbelt says, “is that there are many different career paths for students to pursue. They do not strictly need to pursue a career ‘at the bench’ as an associate scientist or technician at a medical device or pharmaceutical company.”
Mr. Broadbelt describes the field as “complex” and “interdisciplinary,” noting that biotechnology goes beyond biology and chemistry. The discipline applies to many industries, he says. Professionals can find exciting, meaningful work in areas outside of initial drug development.
Following is a long list of paths which any biotechnologist can choose:
- Research and Development
- Clinical Research
- Government (policy making)
- Software engineering ( WOW o.O)
- Food, animal, and environmental science
- Sales and Technical Support
- Business management
- Project management
Because biotechnology is not only restricted to one field of organization i.e government or private so aspirants can work for a variety of organizations that include every sort of governing body. Biotechnology employers range in size too alongside type. They can be either global pharmaceutical leaders to government-funded organizations like the Department of Agriculture and National Institutes of Health.
Broadbelt emphasizes the extraordinary developments happening in the field, including personalized medicine, gene therapy, industrial disease treatment, and even hazardous waste control. But what’s most exciting about the industry, he says, is that no matter what part of the field you’re in, you can truly have an impact on the world around you. Below is a list of some of the most demanding biotechnology careers that are rocking the future.
Want to Pursue a Career in Biotechnology? Keep these in Mind
- Average Pay: $90,000 (Yearly)
- Projected growth by 2026: 7%
Biomedical engineering(BME), also known as bioengineering, is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology for healthcare purposes (e.g. diagnostic or therapeutic). This field seeks to close the gap between engineering and medicine, combining the design and problem solving skills of engineering with medical biological sciences to advance health care treatment, including diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. Also included under the scope of a biomedical engineer is the management of current medical equipment within hospitals while adhering to relevant industry standards. This involves equipment recommendations, procurement, routine testing, and preventative maintenance, through to decommissioning and disposal. This role is also known as a Biomedical Equipment Technician (BMET).
- Average Pay: $93,000 (Yearly)
- Projected Growth by 2026: 11%
Typical biochemists study chemical processes and chemical transformations in living organisms, other biochemists study DNA, proteins and cell parts. The word “biochemist” is a portmanteau of “biological chemist”. Biochemists also research how certain chemical reactions happen in cells and tissues and observe and record the effects of products in food additives and medicines. Biochemist researchers focus on planning and conducting research experiments, mainly for developing new products, updating existing products and analyzing said products. It is also the responsibility of a biochemist to present their research findings and create grant proposals to obtain funds for future research. Biochemists study aspects of the immune system, the expressions of genes, isolating, analyzing, and synthesizing different products, mutations that lead to cancers, and manage laboratory teams and monitor laboratory work. Biochemists also have to have the capabilities of designing and building laboratory equipment and devise new methods of producing correct results for products.
- Average Pay: $82,000 (Yearly)
- Projected Growth by 2026: 13%
Medical Scientists conduct clinical research to improve patient and human health by investigating diseases and prevention methods. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings. Medical Scientists usually work in offices or laboratories and spend most of their time studying data and reports. These scientists also help standardize drug potency, doses, and methods of mass manufacturing them.
- Average Pay: $53,000 (Yearly)
- Projected Growth by 2026: 13%
Also known as medical laboratory scientists, biological technicians collect samples, perform tests, and analyze results of body fluids, tissue, bacteria cultures, and other substances. These technicians use lab instruments, advanced robotics, specialized computer software, and automated equipment to collect, analyze, and model experimental data.
- Average Pay: $70,000 (Yearly)
- Projected Growth by 2026: 8%
Microbiologists study viruses, bacteria and the immune system to produce biomedical and industrial products. These professionals conduct complex research projects and lab experiments to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of infectious illnesses. You can pursue a career in biotechnology and still be a microbiologist, there are no restrictions.
Process Development Scientist
- Average Pay: $95,000 (Yearly)
- Projected Growth by 2026: 10%
Process development scientists oversee the manufacturing process in an organization’s lab, looking for ways to increase quality and efficiency. Once a new product has been developed and approved for manufacturing, these scientists develop methods to scale production while adhering to standardized protocols.
Average Pay: $82,000 (Yearly)
Biomanufacturing specialists use tools and methods to guarantee products meet stringent requirements of purity, safety, potency and quality throughout the manufacturing process. Biomanufacturing often involves the large-scale production of proteins used to treat or cure human diseases, which requires that these specialists possess a thorough knowledge of federal, state, and industry regulatory standards.
Business Development Manager
Average Pay: $120,000 (Yearly)
Business development managers provide detailed market analysis and competitive intelligence to help biotechnology companies formulate and execute growth and investment strategies. They assist in assessing and pursuing expansion, acquisition, and collaborative research and partnering opportunities with other biotechnology institutions to achieve business growth in line with corporate strategic goals. Even though this job looks odd too but you can get this one too if you pursue a career in biotechnology.
Director of Product Strategy/Commercialization
Average Pay: $130,000 (Yearly)
Biotechnology professionals in these business-related roles are responsible for the development and execution of the commercialization strategy for new biotechnology products including launch, market development, marketing, sales, and logistics, driving growth and profitability while ensuring compliance with regulatory and quality requirements.
Any of these dream jobs can be yours if you decide to pursue a career in biotechnology.
Prepare to Pursue a Career in Biotechnology Industry. How?
Mr. Broadbelt says there are five key strategies aspiring professionals can employ to advance their biotechnology careers after they have decided to pursue a career in biotechnology.
1. Build an educational foundation
Broadbelt says the first key to a successful biotech career is a solid educational foundation rooted in science-related coursework. Advanced programs, such as a Master of Science in Biotechnology can give you a chance to explore the many avenues you can take in your career—something he considers critical.
“Look for a degree program that will give you the opportunity to get hands-on experience. It will help mimic the accountability and responsibility of a real-world company, where the work is not only about learning, but about owning projects and achieving results.”
2. Stay open minded
In a field like biotechnology, Broadbelt says: “Keep the blinders off.” When choosing your path, he says it’s important to look at the wealth of potential roles you can play in the industry, and not limit your options based on your first few experiences in the field.
Since there are so many options, it can be tough to find a good fit right away. While many prefer working for a pharmaceutical giant—“the Pfizers and Mercks of the world”— others prefer start-up cultures where they’ll be expected to wear many hats.
He suggests asking yourself: “Money aside, do I really see myself working here?”—noting that it’s likely you’ll make a good living no matter which path you choose. Research agrees, listing the average annual wage for a U.S. biotech worker as $95,000.
3. Hone your soft skills
While it’s important to be detail-oriented at the bench, Broadbelt says it’s equally important to hone your soft skills. In today’s biotechnology market, scientific expertise is only one part of the hiring equation.
In today’s biotechnology market, scientific expertise is only one part of the hiring equation.
“While technical skill and scientific knowledge are a required baseline, that’s now not enough for companies looking to hire biotech professionals. How efficient are you in your communications? How do you engage with others? Defend your hypotheses? Troubleshoot issues? Handle conflict?”
When you get to the interview, the hiring manager is going to want to talk about your soft skills, he says. They want to know they are hiring the whole package. It’s not just about “how well you can pipette,” but how you can communicate and articulate your ideas to others within the business.
4. Build your professional network
Establishing a robust professional network is crucial to career success. In fact, studies show that 85 percent of all jobs are filled through networking. So although it may seem difficult to find the time, make it a priority to build meaningful connections with those around you, including colleagues, supervisors, advisors, professors, and industry professionals. Join professional organizations, attend local industry meetups, or simply ask a coworker to have a conversation over lunch. Having a strong set of professional contacts can open doors to new opportunities, give you access to industry experts, and even help you land your next promotion.
5. Keep learning and adapting
One of the biggest challenges biotechnology professionals face, he says, is being prepared for the constant change that occurs in the industry.
“Students need to be prepared: As much as you want to generate a meaningful product, there is a large financial component to the work. We still work within a business model. Jobs can be terminated; departments can be liquidated quickly.”
The good news is, however, because the only constant is change, there’s likely to be a new product or team that will quickly appear in its place, he says. One way to be prepared for this dynamic industry is to never stop learning.Mr. Broadbelt suggests upskilling by earning additional certificates in the discipline, attending conferences, and utilizing your network.
Taking the Next Step in Your Biotechnology Career
If you’re interested in being at the forefront of emerging advances in biotechnology, now is an opportune time to earn an advanced degree. As the field continues to evolve, there’s a growing need for skilled professionals to innovate and bring new technologies to market.
If you’re interested in earning your Master of Science in Biotechnology, visit Northeastern’s program page to learn more about how the degree can advance your career. Else than that there are PHD scholarships and MS Scholarships for students who wish to pursue a career in biotechnology and The HEC provides it for Pakistanis, Click here to know more.
The Takeaway (Especially for Pakistani Students)
If you are a Pakistani medical science student who is currently enrolled or has completed his/her graduation in any of the medical fields except MBBS and BDS. Any of the jobs listed above can be your path if you wish to choose them but you have to do your masters first for it. These were the Jobs for Biotechnology and Microbiology but you can find similarly well fashioned high-end jobs in any of the fields. Look for Scholarships in your subjects abroad and in Pakistan. All it requires is some research on your subject and about the opportunities provided to those who select your subject. Your opportunities are as broad as your subject of study is, so research them both and you will discover the best for yourself.
This was all about “Pursue a career in biotechnology”. Leave your questions and queries in the comments below but before that you might be interested in these medical books that may also concern your subject of studies.