What Can You Do with a Degree in Biotechnology and Bioenterprise?

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Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary and relatively new field of study with a wide range of practical applications. As a field of study examining life processes at cellular and molecular levels, biotechnology merges biology and technology toward the ultimate goal of creating advances to improve the health of our planet and all life on earth.

Modern biotechnology research has resulted in advances to the technology we use to overcome challenges and struggles related to health and healing, the way we power our lives, our environmental impact, and the quality and quantity of food available to us.

Biotechnology and bioenterprise programs prepare graduates to participate in these exciting advances in a wide range of roles. Biotech programs offer the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, math, and physics that are crucial to most professional roles in the biotech arena. In addition to a baseline understanding of the science, bioenterprise programs prepare students with the knowledge required to bring innovative technological breakthroughs successfully to market. Because of the nearly endless practical applications of biotechnology, many biotechnology and bioenterprise programs enable students to pick a specialization to prepare them for specific job roles after graduation.

Keep reading to learn more about careers that a biotechnology and bioenterprise students can pursue.

Biological Technician

Working mostly in laboratories, biological technicians assist scientists in conducting various forms of biological research.

The responsibilities of a biological technician vary depending on the kind of research they are supporting, the needs of the lead researchers, and the unique skill set of the technician. Biological technicians may coordinate experiments; set up, maintain, and fix research apparati; gather research samples; conduct supervised experiments; analyze data; monitor experiments; do data entry; and keep research environments clean.

In addition to knowledge in the realms of biology, chemistry, math, biological technicians must have good written and verbal communication and comprehension, the capacity for inductive and deductive reasoning, observational skills, critical thinking skills, and technical skills.

Typically, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum needed. However, some biological technicians may find work after completing associate or technical school programs. It is helpful for biological technician applicants to have previous experience working in a laboratory setting.

According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for a biological science laboratory technician is $16.44. Per year, biological technicians can earn anywhere between $30,000 and $58,000.

Biomedical Engineer

Biomedical engineers fuse engineering, biological sciences, and medicine to improve the technology used to fuel accurate, effective, and timely healthcare services.

Because of the broad applications of bioengineering, the specific day-to-day responsibilities of a biomedical engineer will vary. Generally, biomedical engineers have responsibilities in design, maintenance, procedural development, and the evaluation of biomedical equipment. Biomedical engineers also engage in research, present research findings, and train personnel to properly use biomedical equipment.

Biomedical engineers must have high level understanding of engineering principles, and of principles in the branch of science most closely to related to their research. Because they often work in interdisciplinary teams, biomedical engineers must also have good interpersonal and communication skills, creativity, flexibility, and problem-solving skills.

The minimum education required to become a biomedical engineer is a bachelor’s degree. Some jobs may require a master’s degree or higher. To engage in independent research, a PhD is needed. Although not required for entry-level positions, work in a laboratory setting is useful for biomedical engineering candidates.

According to Payscale, yearly salary for a biomedical engineer can range between $49,000 and $93,000, with an average of $64,209.

Biotechnology Professor

Through lectures, labs, and mentoring, biotechnology professors prepare the next generation of biotech scholars and scientists for research and work.

Biotechnology professors prepare and implement lectures and laboratory coursework, create courseflows and syllabi, evaluate student progress throughout courses, hold office hours, supervise laboratory work, engage in ongoing research, keep abreast of the latest scientific findings in the biotechnology discipline, adhere to departmental standards for content delivery, maintain attendance records, and provide feedback and grades on any assigned coursework.

Because a professorial position is inherently interpersonal in nature, biotechnology professors must have impeccable oral and written expression and the capacity for deep listening. Professors in this arena should have mastery of biology, chemistry, math, computers, physics, and specialized knowledge related to their research area or to the courses they teach.

The minimum level of education required to become a biotechnology professor is a master of science degree in a discipline related to biotechnology. To teach at a four-year university or in graduate school courses, most professors are required to have a PhD. While practical experience working in biotechnology is not technically required to become a professor of biotechnology, having practical experience may make a candidate more competitive. In addition, professors much have experience with research or working in a laboratory.

According to Payscale, the average yearly salary for a biological science post-secondary teacher is $49,692, with a range of $36,000 to $77,000 per year.

Biotechnology Researcher

From biometric wearables to cancer-fighting nanobots, biotechnology researchers are on the cutting edge of understanding how we can best utilize technology to improve health, often at the molecular level.

Each biotechnology researcher will have vastly different responsibilities depending on the type of research they implement, and their role within the research project. Examples of possible responsibilities include setting up and implementing experiments, gathering and analyzing data, utilizing and maintaining laboratory equipment, supervising research teams, and presenting findings through peer-reviewed journal articles, poster projects, meetings, and reports. In addition, biotechnology researchers may have the responsibility of securing funding.

Biotechnology researchers must have mastery of the principles in all scientific disciplines related to their research (e.g., math, science, biology, nanotechnology, physics, etc). In addition, biotechnology researchers must have perseverance, ingenuity, and well-developed interpersonal skills—especially those working in or leading research teams.

The minimum education required to participate in biotechnology research as a research assistant or associate is a bachelor’s degree. Many employers prefer a master’s degree with a specialization related to the research being conducted. To engage in independent research or serve as the lead researcher, a PhD is required.

While no work experience is required for entry-level research positions, higher-level positions require candidates to have several years of experience working in research settings.

According to Payscale, biotechnology researchers can expect to make $67,000 per year, on average. The yearly salary range is $41,000 to $106,000 per year.

Environmental Science and Protection Technician

Working in the field and in the laboratory, environmental science and protection technicians evaluate the environment for pollutants, contaminants, degradation, or other negative elements that could impact public health.

Environmental technicians collect samples of soil, air, water, and other organic materials; keep samples organized and well-labeled for analysis; inspect the environment around existing human-made structures or sites for future human made structures; utilize sensors, monitors, microscopes, and other measuring equipment; prepare reports to summarize findings for supervising scientists; and ensure that the environments they’re examining are in legal or regulatory compliance.

Environmental technicians require good attention to detail, the ability to work under a supervisor, well-established interpersonal skills, physical stamina, and the capacity for clear communication. Environmental technicians should have some mastery of environmental science, environmental health, and/or public health.

Generally, an associate’s degree in the environmental sciences or completion of a technical or vocational school program in a specific technology is sufficient to become an environmental technician. Some environmental science and protection technician jobs only require a high school diploma, while others require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Having laboratory work experience also is useful for environmental technician candidates.

According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for an environmental science and protection technician is $15.07 per hour. The average yearly salary is $40,000, with a range of $27,000 to $60,000.

Hydrogeologist

A job that often requires work in the outdoors and in the lab, hydrogeologists seek to understand the movement of groundwater through the earth to solve problems regarding the quality and availability of water.

Hydrogeologists measure bodies of water, collect environmental samples, analyze data, use computer modeling to forecast a range of water-related issues (e.g., supply, pollution, flooding, drought, etc.), conduct feasibility studies for projects requiring water management systems, research ways to mitigate negative impacts of water on the environment (e.g., erosion, sedimentation, etc.), and present their research findings and/or recommendations to employers, policymakers, or colleagues.

Hydrogeologists require a high-level knowledge of engineering, technology, math, physics, chemistry, geography, computers, and design. They also require analytical skills, critical thinking skills, competence in written and oral comprehension and expression, and effective interpersonal skills. Because much of their work is done in the field, hydrogeologists need to have physical stamina and the ability to work in dirt, dust, and all types of weather.

While some hydrogeology positions only require a bachelor’s, research positions in hydrogeology often require a master’s degree or higher. Although not required, it is useful for hydrogeologist candidates to have laboratory experience, and/or experience in economics, environmental law, or government policy.

According to Payscale, hydrogeologists make $61,638 per year on average, with a range of $46,000 to $96,000.

Laboratory Director

Laboratory directors make laboratory research possible through personnel management, budget oversight, and regulatory compliance.

Laboratory directors are responsible for ensuring the infrastructure needed to conduct research is firmly in place. To this end, lab directors seek and secure funding and other forms of operational assistance; engage in recruiting, hiring, and performance reviews; balance budgets; manage other forms of capital (e.g., space, equipment, etc.); and ensure operations are happening within regulatory, grant-based, and legal constraints.

Lab directors should have impeccable interpersonal skills, meticulous attention to detail, organizational skills, skill in finance, and holistic understanding of the research in the biological sciences.

Those hoping to become laboratory directors should hold a doctorate-level degree in the biological sciences. Laboratory directors also need years of experience working in labs, including several years in leadership positions Earning certification as a laboratory director is generally useful as well.

According to Payscale, laboratory directors make anywhere from $60,000 to $141,000 per year, with an average yearly salary of $94,000.

Marketing Manager

Marketing managers are responsible for generating interest in new products or services.

When a biotechnological product is ready to come to market or is on the market, marketing managers create the campaigns that ensure the product sells. Marketing managers lead marketing teams, plan campaigns, create strategies, evaluate the efficacy of strategies, meet with potential and current clients, engage in market research, manage and negotiate marketing budgets, develop pricing strategies, and hire personnel that will be involved in the promotion of the product.

Marketing managers must be incredibly organized, have the capacity to think on micro and macro levels, have impeccable interpersonal skills, and possess the ability to communicate clearly in writing, orally, and across other creative mediums as well. In addition, marketing managers must understand the language of biotechnology, business, and understand human motivation.

The minimum threshold of education needed to become a marketing manager is a bachelor’s degree. However, many marketing directors have an MBA, master’s in journalism, or master’s in marketing. Marketing managers typically have several years of experience in sales, buying, public relations, or advertising before coming into the management role.

According to Payscale, the average yearly salary for a marketing manager is $63,550, with a range of $41,000 to $98,000.

Microbiologist

Generally working in research and development, microbiologists study microorganisms (e.g., algae, bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, etc). Specialized examples of microbiologists include bacteriologists, clinical microbiologists, environmental microbiologists, mycologists, parasitologists, and virologists.

Microbiologists prepare and conduct experiments; identify and classify microorganisms; identify, collect, and maintain cultures for experimentation; keep up-to-date on scientific literature regarding microorganisms; supervise laboratory technicians; prepare academic literature (e.g., peer-reviewed journal articles, poster projects, etc.) to illustrate their findings and recommendations; and examine the interactions between microorganisms and their environments.

In addition to knowledge of laboratory procedures at a micro level, microbiologists must have skills in communication, attention to detail, time-management, and problem-solving. In addition, microbiologists must be self-starters with the ability to persevere.

The minimum threshold of education to become a microbiologist is a bachelor’s degree. Those hoping to conduct independent research generally need a PhD. Competitive candidates for microbiologist positions have at least one year’s experience working in a laboratory or research setting.

According to Payscale, the average yearly salary for a microbiologist is $52,306, and can fall between $37,000 and $83,000.

Quality Control Technician

Quality control (QC) technicians verify that materials being used at all stages within the manufacturing process adhere to specifications.

Quality control technicians are responsible for catching materials with flaws, defects, or deviations from manufacturing specifications. When a defective or deficient material is found, quality control technicians make recommendations to the party managing that stage of production to halt or adjust operations, or they reject finished items when the defect was not caught earlier on. To this end, quality control technicians often work with highly-calibrated tools, computers, and in interdisciplinary teams.

QC technicians require sharp attention to detail, computer savvy, the ability to understand technical documents, and competence in interpersonal communication. Because many QC jobs happen on the manufacturing stage, physical stamina and strength may also be required. QC technicians working in the realm of biotechnology may need specialized knowledge in the biological sciences including math, biology, and chemistry.

Because QC jobs require a range of skill, there are positions available for those who have completed high school, technical or vocational school, an associate’s program, or bachelor’s programs. No experience is technically required, but most employers prefer some experience in QC, manufacturing, or in the scientific discipline related to the product being manufactured.

According to Payscale, the average hourly rate for a quality control technician is $16.71. The average yearly salary is $43,000, with a range of $32,000 to $61,000.