Biotech jobs blend engineering and technology with biology, genetics and biochemistry to come up with solutions to challenges in human and animal health, and to develop new crops, fuels, medicines and other products.
Jobs in biotech involve research where the characteristics of living things are modified for scientific purposes. Potential products are identified, tested, moved through regulatory approval, marketed and manufactured. A specialist combining a career in biotech with a second career focus such as compliance, sales or IT handles each of those steps.
Biotechnology jobs can touch many areas:
Biological technicians work on research lab tasks like setting up equipment, running tests and reporting results. In the lab, biochemists, bioengineers and biophysicists work on research and development projects.
Other biotech careers focus on products:
In a regulatory compliance job, you work to gain government approval of new products.
Biotech marketing jobs involve sales.
Bioinformatics jobs apply information technology to scientific discovery.
Medical scientist jobs focus on ways fight diseases.
Natural sciences manager jobs combine business and science.
Biotech Job Market
More firms are entering the biotechnology industry, creating new jobs for people interested in developing medicines, improving crops and finding alternative energy sources. But more students are opting to work in biotech as well, creating competition for jobs in biotechnology.
The federal government funds much of US biotech, so biotech employment is heavily influenced by federal budget decisions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that between 2010 and 2020:
Jobs for biological technicians will grow 14 percent.
Jobs for biochemists and biophysicists will grow 31 percent; however, that growth translates to only 7,700 jobs over the decade because the occupation is small.
Jobs for microbiologists will grow 13 percent.
Jobs for medical scientists will grow 36 percent, mostly in private industry.
Jobs for natural sciences managers will grow by just 8 percent due to outsourcing.
Biotechnology salaries depend in large part upon how much education is required. According to the BLS, the 2011 median salaries for some common biotech jobs were:
Biological technician: $39,480
Medical scientist: $76,130
Biochemist and biophysicist: $79,230
Natural sciences manager: $114,770, which is among the highest biotech salary.