Biotechnologists use plants, animals, microbes, biochemistry and genetics to develop new products and improve existing ones.
1. Entry requirements
You’ll need a degree in a relevant scientific subject, like:
- chemistry or chemical engineering
Employers may expect you to have some knowledge of the specific area of biotechnology you want to go into, like the food and drink industry.
For a research post you’ll usually need a postgraduate qualification and several years' experience in the field.
You could start as a technician if you have an HND or foundation degree, and work your way up.
You could also move into biotechnology if you’ve a background in a related field like chemical engineering.
Future Morph has more information about becoming a biotechnologist.
2. Skills required
- problem-solving skills
- a methodical approach to work
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to analyse statistical and technical data
- IT skills
3. What you'll do
You’ll work in environmental, industrial or medical biotechnology.
In environmental biotechnology, your duties may include:
- developing micro-organisms and plants to clean polluted land or water
- creating alternative renewable sources of energy, like biodiesel
- producing environmentally friendly raw materials for industry, like biodegradable plastics from plant starches
In industrial biotechnology, your duties may include:
- cloning and producing enzymes for use in manufacturing food and drink
- creating biological detergents and dyes for the textiles industry
- improving animal feed
- developing crops that are more resistant to pests
- genetically modifying crops to increase productivity
In medical biotechnology and biotherapeutics, your duties may include:
- studying human genetics, proteins, antibodies, viruses, plants, fungi and bacteria to research and treat diseases like cancer
- developing therapies, vaccines and hormones to treat the cause of a disease
- producing medicines using techniques like cell culture and genetic modification
Starter: £19,000 to £24,000
Experienced: £30,000 to £50,000
Highly Experienced: up to £60,000
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environmentYou’ll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, including shifts, nights and weekends.
You’ll mainly work in a laboratory, often in sterile conditions.
You’ll usually wear protective clothing like a lab coat and safety glasses.
6. Career path and progressionWith experience, you could move into scientific journalism, quality assurance management, sales or marketing.
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Last updated: 21 December 2016
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