A program that focuses on the application of the biological sciences, biochemistry, and genetics to the preparation of new and enhanced agricultural, environmental, clinical, and industrial products, including the commercial exploitation of microbes, plants, and animals. Includes instruction in bioinformatics, gene identification, phylogenetics and comparative genomics, bioinorganic chemistry, immunoassaying, DNA sequencing, xenotransplantation, genetic engineering, industrial microbiology, drug and biologic development, enzyme-based production processes, patent law, biotechnology management and marketing, applicable regulations, and biotechnology ethics.

Careers in biotechnology focus on developing new ways to use living matter to create useful products.

The roots of biotechnology lie in processes like breadmaking and fermentation, where the activity of microorganisms results in a useful end product. Genes, proteins, microbes, viruses, yeasts, fungi - all of these and more are regularly harnessed for medical, agricultural, environmental, or industrial purposes. From lab-grown organs to super cells that reject contaminants to genetically altered plants that produce huge amounts of food, there have been so many exciting developments in biotechnology, and they don't seem to be slowing down at all!

A lot of biotechnology is about replicating something as it exists in nature and getting it to do something else.

Some biotechnologists work on cell research, while others design and manufacture regulatory devices that cooperate with systems in the human body. There is a lot of crossover with related disciplines, and it is helpful for any worker to have some context for them, especially since scientists tend to work in teams of specialists. What differentiates biotechnology from other fields is how the work is directed; the goal is to create something that can be used and applied in a specific context.

Biotechnology work may include...

  • Conducting research and experiments
  • Manipulating cells, genes, or other organic matter
  • Filing and applying for patents and grants
  • Analyzing data and interpreting results
  • Preparing detailed reports and keeping accurate records
  • Using specialized techniques and equipment

Employers in biotechnology range from universities and independent research labs to government organizations and processing plants. At this point, the field extends to many subdivisions of industry, and jobs are being created to reflect this shift. There is no single path to working in biotechnology; jobs exist at multiple levels across numerous disciplines, from researchers and technicians to manufacturing leads and data analysts. What unites them is a need for absolute precision and a commitment to producing a consistent, effective product.

Plant workers and manufacturers who perform large-scale scientific processes typically require an Associate's degree in a relevant area, such as bioscience or engineering. This two year degree consists of a program in practical sciences, where students learn the fundamentals of biology and its applications. Those with a Bachelor's degree are also qualified for these jobs, as well as entry level laboratory and research roles. Completing a four-year science program usually allows for deeper exploration of a particular subject and increased opportunity for formal lab work. Those with an education in the field who may not want to do hands-on scientific work may become specialists in scientific marketing or sales, both of which require an understanding of biotechnological processes. It's not uncommon for job candidates to seek out further training, such as certificate programs or post-baccalaureate studies; these can demonstrate a commitment to the field and allow for further career advancement. For aspiring lab scientists, a Master's degree is the most direct way to get employed, particularly in pharmaceutical development or protein engineering. Those wishing to teach at the university level or conduct independent research tend to pursue PhDs, a lengthy process culminating in a research project that establishes one as an expert.

If you're interested in using natural science to propel human innovation, biotechnology is sure to be filled with like-minded people working to ensure an advanced future; are you ready to take the first steps to joining them?

For more information, please follow the links below:

  • The Biotechnology Innovation Organization is the world's largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations.
  • The Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology is an international association dedicated to the advancement of microbiological sciences, especially as they apply to industrial products, biotechnology, materials, and processes.
  • The Society for Biomaterials is a multidisciplinary society of academic, healthcare, governmental and business professionals dedicated to promoting advancements in biomaterial science.