Biotechnologists develop new products, such as vaccines and biodegradable materials, using biological knowledge. They use plants, animals, microbes, biochemistry and genetics to develop new products and improve existing ones.Job Category:
What you will 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
- knowledge of biology and/or chemistry
- maths knowledge
- knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
- IT skills
You’ll also need:
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- the ability to work on your own
- excellent verbal communication skills
- the ability to work well with others (teamwork)
- analytical thinking skills problem-solving skills
- a methodical approach to work (organisational skills)
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to analyse statistical and technical data
You’ll likely need a degree in a relevant scientific subject, like:
- bioscience / biological science
- 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’ of experience in the field.
You could start as a technician if you have a foundation degree, and work your way up.
You could also move into biotechnology if you have a background in a related field like chemical engineering.
Working Hours and Environment:
You’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.
Career Path & Progression:
With experience, you could move into scientific journalism, quality assurance management, sales or marketing.