12 biotechnology careers (including duties and salaries)
Updated 7 July 2023
Careers in biotechnology use biological technology to create products and systems that help improve the state of the planet and our lives. For centuries, biotechnology has contributed to scientific advances in genetics, biochemistry, agriculture, environmental protection, medicine, biology and other vital sectors. This field can offer a diverse and interesting career path for professionals who enjoy technology, science and maths and find research, innovation and collaboration interesting. In this article, we cover 12 jobs in biotechnology, including details of common responsibilities, salaries, necessary qualifications and how to get into the sector.
Why consider biotechnology careers?
Biotechnology careers exist in an interdisciplinary field that goes beyond biology and chemistry. If you're interested in pursuing a career in research and development, manufacturing, clinical research, policymaking, software engineering or food, animal or environmental science, then biotechnology may be for you. Biotechnologists contribute to the development of life-changing technology and products to improve people's lives by being in one of the most innovative fields. Many industries rely on biotechnologists, so professionals work for the government, private companies, clinical laboratories or regulatory bodies. This industry offers a broad and competitive job market for professionals keen to affect the world positively.
12 job biotechnology jobs to consider
Biotechnology professionals can choose from a range of career choices in different sectors utilising a range of skills. Below are 12 different roles to consider:
1. DNA analyst
National average salary: £22,532 per year
Primary duties: DNA analysts use DNA samples to conduct examinations to better understand genetic information. By comparing DNA samples, they can determine medical history, genetic background and familial relationships. DNA analysts may also work with law enforcement to identify suspects in criminal investigations through DNA evidence. Entry into this field requires a Bachelor of Science degree in relatable fields, such as forensics or forensic molecular biology.
National average salary: £25,033 per year
Primary duties: Clinical technicians usually work in lab environments. They carry out some of the following duties: preparing laboratory equipment, sterilising and cleaning tools, operating robotic machines, collecting samples, labelling specimens and preparing lab reports. Clinical technicians are also responsible for upholding the health and safety rules and regulations during experiments and reporting incidents or operational issues where necessary.
National average salary: £25,166 per year
Primary duties: Chemical operators play an important role in maintaining and controlling chemical plant machinery. Their duties involve determining the chemical materials, technology and machinery required to complete initiatives through reviewing project reports. Chemical operators are responsible for preparing chemical plant environments by weighing, sorting and mixing chemical ingredients to enable safe and controlled chemical reactions. They also detail the effects of using different compounds in reports. Chemical operators are often required to hold secondary school diplomas or a relevant training course certification.
National average salary: £25,940 per year
Primary duties: Pharmaceutical manufacturing involves the production of medication, pharmaceutical products and chemical compounds. They establish the right equipment and necessary supplies to manufacture specific products to meet consumer demand. This role involves a high technical ability to operate manufacturing equipment following strict health, safety and operational instructions to combine various chemicals. Pharmaceutical manufacturers also measure doses, create production schedules and record inventory updates. A bachelor's and master's degree in chemistry are usual prerequisites to enter this field.
National average salary: £33,646 per year
Primary duties: Biochemists examine the chemical properties of living organisms and processes, such as cell growth, cell development and disease. Their duties include complex and detailed research projects analysing, isolating and synthesising proteins, DNA, carbohydrates, fats and various other molecules. This enables them to research the effects that drugs, hormones and nutrients have on tissues and biological processes to improve human health. For example, biochemists may examine how long a certain fat or protein takes to break down in the stomach.
National average salary: £34,590 per year
Primary duties: Biomedical engineers design biomedical devices, treatments and diagnostic tools. Their responsibilities involve drawing schematics to develop new tools and create prototypes to test their designs. Products created by biomedical engineers include biosensors, immunotherapy injections and pacemakers. They also undertake research and record their findings in academic publications. Once a product reaches the market, biomedical engineers instruct medical professionals in using these new tools. Biomedical engineers usually hold a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and relevant postgraduate degrees for more research-based roles.
National average salary: £35,763 per year
Primary duties: Environmental health and safety officers play an important role in enforcing and upholding legislation. They log and ensure protective measures are in place to uphold a safe and low-risk environment for employees and stakeholders. To do so, they implement and maintain protective measures, such as slip hazard signs, adequate reporting measures to log incidents and robust policies for handling hazardous chemicals. Environmental health officers may also carry out regular inspections or schedule external inspections to maintain high standards. These kinds of roles attract bachelor's or master's degree graduates with a degree in a related field.
National average salary: £37,472 per year
Primary duties: Bioprocess engineers supervise the processes and production of biotechnological products and equipment, including pharmaceuticals, generators and biofuels. They collate best practices, collect valuable data around chemical reactions and integrate new technology into existing biotechnological equipment. Some bioprocess engineers may also review research, delegate duties to their production team and supervise the production of prototypes and final products. Bioprocess engineers usually hold a Bachelor of Science in a field like biology, engineering or chemistry.
National average salary: £50,975 per year
Primary duties: Biostatisticians analyse data relating to living organisms for research. They're responsible for gathering samples for biological experiments and designing research projects involving the review of historical documents to identify data trends. Using their statistical skills, they determine the requirements for data samples and use statistical modelling to understand developments in biotechnology. Biostatisticians use their strong statistical knowledge to make informed predictions about environmental, medical and biological trends through their analysis. Biostatisticians usually require a master's or PhD for this job, as it's heavily research-based.
10. Product manager
National average salary: £52,352 per year
Primary duties: Product managers play a role in developing consumer goods through the design and distribution phase. They carry out market research activities to understand consumer needs, write product strategy proposals, gather insights and implement product improvements. Biotechnical product managers handle products like medical devices and food technology. They also lead advocacy campaigns to educate their target audience about the latest developments in science and technology, so they're likely to possess some marketing and communications skills. Product managers typically hold a bachelor's degree in engineering to understand the complexities of new biotechnical products.
National average salary: £62,435 per year
Primary duties: Bioinformaticians work on complex technical biology projects. Using their knowledge of computer science and biology, they develop research tools to solve biological problems and process biological or genetic data. The requirement to enter this field is a master's degree and the ability to programme. Successful bioinformatic professionals are likely to have strong database, programming and statistical knowledge to ensemble and gather gene datasets. It's essential for a bioinformatician to learn a programming language like C++.
National average salary: £69,276 per year
Primary duties: Microbiologists are scientists who study microorganisms, like fungi, viruses, bacteria and other microscopic life forms. Using their investigative skills, they help to prevent, treat and diagnose certain diseases. Some of the typical day-to-day activities that microbiologists may undertake are designing and conducting trials, tracking the development of microorganisms, collecting samples, inspecting food and beverage manufacturing environments or culturing microbes. Microbiologists need a bachelor's degree in microbiology at a minimum to enter this field.
Related: How to become a microbiologist
How to prepare for a career in biotechnology
If you're interested in entering the biotechnology field, it's useful to familiarise yourself with the qualifications that these kinds of jobs require. Below are some useful steps to help you in preparing for a career in this field:
1. Get formal qualifications
Most jobs in biotechnology require a Bachelor of Science degree in a related discipline, with more advanced roles requiring a master's or PhD. Begin looking at the job you want to pursue and find out the education requirements at both secondary and university levels. You can then investigate relevant courses you could enrol in.
2. Broaden your knowledge of the sector
Biotechnology jobs offer exciting and innovative developments in science and technology spanning multiple sectors. Having knowledge of ever-changing industry trends through reading academic and scientific publications can help you when entering this field. It also helps you to select a niche if you're interested in that.
3. Gain valuable work experience
For many jobs in biotechnology, practical experience can set you aside from other applicants. Seeking internships or work experience with tech start-ups, health organisations, research institutions or labs can offer invaluable learning. Work experience can also help you build a professional network of experts.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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