What Can You Do With A Biotechnology Degree?
As one of the UK’s most lucrative sources of innovation, biotechnology is the nation’s fastest-growing life science area with wide-reaching applications across agriculture, health, and environmental resource efficiency.
Given its expanding influence in the wider STEM fields, biotechnology graduates have the potential to play a pivotal role in shaping new technologies, techniques, and methods in a rewarding environment.
Our global STEM survey shows that biotechnology has the greatest proportion of satisfied employees in the UK, with 73% of employees reporting that they feel satisfied at work.
What’s more, graduate prospects are promising. University research shows that 85% of biotechnology graduates are employed a year after graduation.
In this article, we’ll explore potential career routes, roles, and advice to help you unlock the potential of your biotechnology degree.
Read on to find out:
- What a biotechnologist is
- What jobs you can get with a biotechnology degree
- How to get a job in biotechnology
What is a biotechnologies?
A biotechnologist is an individual with an academic background in biotechnology, where they will have developed the skills and knowledge to harness biological science and technology to develop innovative solutions and products.
As the fourth industrial revolution progresses and technology becomes increasingly ingrained in wider manufacturing and industry, biotechnologists bring an in-demand set of skills at the intersection of both biology and tech to solve global challenges in health, agriculture, and the environment.
What jobs can you get with a biotechnology degree?
When considering job opportunities with a biotechnology degree, it’s important to consider what sector or industry you’d like to work in. Biotechnology has a range of applications in a number of different sectors, meaning that while you may garner specialist skill sets for a particular industry in your first graduate role, the skills you develop will likely be transferable to some degree in an alternative industry – making your career path and options particularly dynamic.
Working in health
Biotechnology is playing an increasingly important role in the wider health industry where it helps to improve diagnostics, streamline drug discovery and development, and improves patient care.
Biotechnology roles that fall under the health and medical sector include:
Microbial biotechnology is an expanding sub-area of microbiology, where scientists genetically engineer micro-organisms for research and drug development.
If your degree included modules or a specialism in microbiology, you could attain a role as a microbiologist where your work will focus on analysing and researching microscopic organisms.
Epidemiologists study the nature of epidemics, delving behind the causes, effects, and potential risk mitigation strategies to help defer further occurrence.
Biotech graduates working in this area, draw on their data analytical skills to assess the benefits and risks of medicine over time and feedback this information to regulatory agencies and patient and healthcare providers. Many biotechnology graduates who pursue a career in this area start with a biotechnology degree as a foundation, before taking post-graduate courses in epidemiology.
Biological technicians play a key role in laboratories where they conduct experiments, keep detailed logs and records, and analyse test samples. Biotechnology graduates often enter industry as a biological technician, where they contribute their expertise and experience in supporting laboratory operations.
Biomedical engineers collaborate with a range of stakeholders across the wider scientific field, from scientists and engineers to healthcare providers to create effective healthcare products and methods for patients. A degree in biotechnology is particularly useful for this career route, as software and computer programming heavily intersect with handling biological matter.
Working in agriculture
In agriculture, developing genetically modified crops to resist disease and improve yield is a growing priority internationally. Biotechnologists help to develop and formulate new ways to increase production by both developing genetically modified crops, as well as bio-fertilisers to reduce reliance on environmentally damaging chemical fertilisers.
Biotechnology jobs that fall under the agricultural sector include:
Bioinformatics scientists collaboratively work to combine software and computer engineering with biology to develop solutions for the agricultural industry, and functional databases to translate agricultural data.
Bioinformatics scientists often work with both software engineers and biologists together to develop solutions like automated data mining, reusable libraries, and reports on crucial benchmarks. They also play an important role in harnessing data to assess risk factors in research.
Microbial physiologists assess and examine the relationships between a micro-organisms structure, and environment, with a particular focus on the response of a microbe to their environment. Given the role’s focus on gene products and synthesis, data and analysis play particularly important roles.
In agriculture, microbial physiologists help assess soil appropriacy for crops by analysing gene factors that could or do react to specific agricultural environments and soil types – helping to improve yield and drive efficiency.
While a degree in chemistry is often cited as essential for formulation roles, biotechnology is a useful degree to have in agricultural formulation engineering. Formulation engineers in agricultural organisations help maximise quality, efficiency, and capacity of manufacturing technologies, and advise the creation of development programs for formulation engineering.
Biotechnologists working as a formulation engineer would work at the threshold between both chemistry, biology, and technology as they design and develop trials from pilot through to manufacturing stages to improve efficiencies across agricultural processes.
How to get a job in biotechnology
According to Lisa Belmont, a biotechnologist writing for the American Society of Cell Biology, some key factors to amplify the success of your career in biotechnology are:
1. Establish a presence in journals
Lisa advises that publishing high-quality papers in research journals provides a strong foundation for your career, even if you don’t choose to pursue an academic route after university. She explains, “choose a good lab in a field which you are passionate about and publish something novel”, and in doing will help you understand and align your career goals post-university.
What’s more, gaining the skills to identify unique hypotheses, carry out experiments, and withstand assessment from fellow scientists are all vital skills for employment that are accrued across the peer-review process, which will help you gain an edge over other candidates.
2. Become a subject-matter expert
Investing your time to holistically understand a specific area can help attain a position post-graduation. Lisa explains that by “becoming an expert in a disease-relevant system, such as genetically engineered mouse models”, it can support your application and increase your chances of success.
3. Don’t be intimidated by jargon
Biotechnology is particularly susceptive to industry-specific jargon, which can make for a confusing interview process and even job search. Try and take the time to familiarise yourself with industry-specific terms before and during your job search. Lisa relates how after being confused about being asked to establish a pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics relationship in her second industry job, she realised “it meant demonstrating that the molecule of interest gets to the relevant tissue at an efficacious dose and has a biological effect consistent with its mechanism of action – this is something any well-trained biologist would want to demonstrate before promoting a drug candidate; it was the jargon that made it mysterious”.
Ready to start your journey in biotech?
SRG have over thirty-years of experience supporting scientific talent into rewarding careers across STEM.
Our established connections across the biotechnology industry enable us to activate rewarding opportunities for every level of talent – from graduates through to experienced senior applications.
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