How to Become a Biotechnology Researcher: Career Path Guide
To become a biotechnology researcher, you need to begin by determining if this career path is right for you. Are you interested in studying microorganisms and their life processes? Are you interested in utilizing knowledge of biology to help create useful products, such as those found in medicine? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you are likely well suited for a career as a biotechnology researcher!
Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a biotechnology researcher. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!
Education Needed to Become a Biotechnology Researcher
To become an entry-level biotechnology researcher (such as a junior-level research associate, or a laboratory technologist) you need at least a bachelor’s degree in a field such as biology, biotechnology, biochemistry or a closely related field.
Coursework in these fields are generally accompanied by laboratory work, which can prepare you to become a research associate by providing you with hands-on skills and experience, which many employers require.
Some courses that will be relevant to the work you will be doing include: Principles of Genetics, Biotech Fermentation, and Immunological Techniques. In addition to your degree, some companies may require that you have at least two years of related experience to perform duties such as preparing technical reports and quantitative analysis.
If you want to become a biotechnology researcher who works in a research or research capacity, you will require at least a master's degree in one of the above-mentioned fields.
If you want to work as a principal biotechnology researcher (a role that also involves the supervision of research associates and other staff), you will likely be required to have a doctorate degree in a related field and a minimum of 10 years of experience.
Biotechnology Researcher Job Description
Biotechnology researchers study biological organisms, systems, or processes to learn about the science of life in order to develop or make useful products, or to improve the value of materials and organisms such as pharmaceuticals, crops, and livestock. Biotechnology researchers typically conduct specialized research projects such as mapping DNA, studying pharmaceuticals or finding medical uses for plants.
Biotechnology Researcher Job Duties
• Determine objectives, method and budget of research
• Collect and analyze data
• Prepare reports based on findings
• May publish reports
• Study cell cultures
• Provide cultures with new growth media
Experience Needed to Become a Biotechnology Researcher
To become a biotechnology researcher that works in a technological capacity, or as a research associate, you typically need a minimal amount of laboratory experience. A sufficient amount of experience for these positions can be gained through coursework while earning your biology, biochemistry, biotechnology or related degree.
To become a biotechnology researcher that works in mid-level research positions, such as Scientist I and Scientist II, you often need at least 5 years of research experience, typically gained by working in entry-level positions, as well as during the pursuit of your graduate degree.
To become a biotechnology researcher who works in senior-level positions, such as Principal Scientist or Principal Researcher, you typically need at least 10 years of research experience, and may require some supervisory experience, depending on the requirements of the employer.
Value of Biotechnology Researchers
The efforts of biotechnology researchers help us further understand the practical applications of organisms and their processes, such as in medicine, agriculture and the protection of the environment. The lessons they teach us can be applied to a number of products that benefit society, including:
• New vaccines to prevent disease
• Genetically modified plants with resistance to pests
• Repair of damaged organs and tissues and improved detection of diseases
• Treatments for human infertility
• Bacteria capable of cleaning up oil spills
• Environmentally friendly biofuels
Biotechnology Researcher Salary
The salary level of biotechnology researchers can vary greatly depending on factors such as their level of experience, their job title, their level of education, where they work, and many others.
Unfortunately there is no specific salary information available for biotechnology researcher, however we can get a good idea of what these scientists earn by examining the salary level of closely related professions.
Biotechnology Researcher Salary Canada: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Biologists and Related Scientists occupational group earned on average from $26.73 to $62.00 an hour. Please note, accurate salary figures are only available for Alberta only.
Biotechnology Researcher Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Biochemists and Biophysicists occupational group is $79,390 per year.
Who Hires Biotechnology Researchers?
There are many different types of organizations that benefit from employing the skills, knowledge and competencies of biotechnology researchers, such as:
• Environmental consulting firms
• Biotechnical and pharmaceutical companies
• Companies in the agriculture, food, natural resource and utility industries
• Medical and veterinary research organizations
• Colleges and universities
• Federal, provincial/state and local government departments and agencies
• Private research organizations
Find Biotechnology Researcher Job Postings
Careers Similar to Biotechnology Researcher
Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to that of a biotechnology researcher, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.
References: How to Become a Biotechnology Researcher
Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a biotechnology researcher.
Alberta Learning and Information Services website: alis.alberta.ca
Health Canada website: www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Service Canada website: www.servicecanada.gc.ca
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website: www.bls.gov
Scholarships for Becoming a Biotechnology Researcher
Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a Biotechnology Researcher can be found on our Biology Scholarships page.
Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!
Becoming a Biotechnology Researcher: Applicable Majors
Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a Biotechnology Researcher. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!