Is Biotechnology a Good Career Path? Pros and Cons of It

Does the sound of manipulating DNA and creating something state of the art excite you? Does the thought of The Hulk from the popular Marvel Movies come to mind when you hear biotechnology? If so, you are in the right place for more information about a career in biotechnology. Whether you think of The Hulk or not, you’ve likely asked yourself, “Is biotechnology a good career”. In this guide, you’ll find information on the pros and cons of biotechnology.

What Does a Biotechnologist Do in a Typical Day?

A biotechnologist has the unique ability to create innovation through the expert engineering of biological processes for commercial and industrial purposes. For example, you’ve likely heard of various COVID vaccines. A biotechnologist was responsible for using practical biological processes to produce life-saving drugs. You can also apply this in-demand skill to other industries such as agriculture, cosmetics, academia, government agencies, food science, and even animal care! The possibilities are endless for anyone who chooses a biotech career path.

The eight-hour workday is standard unless you are actively working on an experiment. Field biotechnologists have a less structured and predictable schedule so you may have to adjust your work hours depending on the type of project you are working on.

Scientific Duties – A typical day in the office for a biotechnologist may include both technical and non-technical responsibilities that make each day rewarding, intellectually stimulating, and exciting. On a typical work day, your technical duties may include helping to execute experiments, collecting and analyzing data, creating reports, and presenting important findings. While in the lab, you may spend time manipulating or mutating DNA at the beginning of the drug development process. If you are working on the final product, you may spend your time using analytical chemistry or bioassays to test the potency and safety of a new drug.

When working in the agricultural field, you can expect to manipulate DNA to produce better crops. If you’ve chosen to work in cosmetics, you may create new pigments through the manipulation of microorganisms using various techniques. These are just a few of the challenging day-to-day responsibilities of a biotech career path.

General Duties – Life as a biotechnologist isn’t all science. In fact, there are a number of non-technical responsibilities that are required in a biotech career path. Some of these tasks include providing scientific direction to company projects or writing business proposals for additional funding. You may have to present your work to a variety of audiences, including business executives and other researchers. However, the most important responsibility is to solve problems. Your ability to accomplish these tasks as a productive team member within the company culture is what will set you apart from the rest in this highly competitive field.

The Biotech Career Path – This competitive and high-growth field is projected to grow faster than all other professions in the next five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics! While undergraduate degrees will qualify you for entry-level positions, advanced degrees are necessary for jobs in leadership. Before you begin solving the world’s most complex problems, you’ll need to know the requirements of a biotech career path. Biotechnologists are goal-oriented so this guide will provide the important milestones necessary to reaching your goals. Here’s your quick guide to a biotech career path:

  1. Complete your bachelor’s degree – This is the first and most important step. We recommend graduating with a degree in biotechnology but any science-related degree will be sufficient. When deciding on the right program, you’ll want a curriculum that delivers both classroom and experiential learning opportunities with an accredited institution.
  2. Secure an internship – Most biotechnology programs have an internship component that utilizes approved sites within the student’s geographical area. Internships are a great way to gain familiarity with the type of environment and work you’ll be doing as a biotechnologist. They are exceptionally helpful when applying for graduate programs and positions with more responsibilities. If you don’t have much work experience, internships will strengthen your resume.
  3. Complete graduate school – Since you’ll be considered a STEM student, you’ll be eligible for many grants and additional funding to complete your graduate degree. A more advanced degree will give you a chance to focus on a specific subfield like pharmaceutical technology, manufacturing, or bioprocess engineering.
  4. Get hired as a biotechnologist – The road of the biotech career path leads to a wide variety of exceptional opportunities working for international companies, government institutions, academia, local businesses, and many more. Many biotech graduates transition from a successful internship to a well-paid position as a biotechnologist.

What’s The Job Demand & Average Salary Like?

Salary and career – The biotech career path pays well and is expected to experience significant growth of 7% over the next five years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an average of over 11,000 biotechnologist positions to be available every year for the next decade! The median annual salary for biotechnologists ranges from $39,000 to $45,000. This may vary depending on years of experience and advanced education. If you decide to complete graduate school, you can expect to earn at least $70,000. Total pay with good experience and a graduate degree can come to $100,000 or more depending on the subfield you’ve chosen. Graduates with advanced degrees are generally hired as medical scientists, biophysicists, biochemists, and epidemiologists.

A Few Great Jobs as a Biotechnologist

Your biotech career path may be different from your peers but there are several popular positions that provide a great quality of life and a rewarding career. As you pursue your education, sharp networking skills will give you a competitive edge in landing the job you want. Here are a few positions to consider on your biotech career path:

  1. Biomedical engineer – This role requires the ability to apply problem-solving techniques of engineering to biology and medicine. You can expect to be paid a median salary of over $92,000.
  2. Biochemist – This role will require you to spend most of your time in a lab understanding the chemistry of living things and processes in order to invent new products that benefit society. You can expect to be paid a median salary of over $55,000.
  3. Medical scientist – This role requires you to apply your extensive knowledge of diseases to designing and conducting studies that can help prevent them. You can expect to be paid over $72,000 to start.
  4. Clinical technician – Also referred to as a medical lab scientist or biological technician, this role requires the ability to perform tests and analyze experimental data. You can expect a median salary of over $50,000.
  5. Microbiologist – This role requires you to understand and apply your expertise in viruses, bacteria, and the immune system to develop new ways of addressing societal health issues. This position pays a median salary of over $79,000.
  6. Process development scientist – In this role, you will use your research skills to identify different ways of manufacturing products and monitoring current processes for efficiency. You can expect a median salary of over $74,000.

Is Biotechnology a Good Career Overall?

The biotech career path is a clear-cut road to a challenging but highly rewarding occupation. There are pros and cons of biotechnology but research shows the younger generation pursuing a biotech career path is convinced the good outweighs the bad. Biotechnology has become one of the most favored career options for young people who are looking to explore STEM fields. With the rise of new innovations and applications for biotechnology in many industries, interest in this field is expected to continue to grow. The return on investment for this highly rewarding career includes:

  • Making a difference – Biotechnologists are in the best positions to make a difference in the world. Regardless of where you’re stationed, your ultimate goal is to help others live healthier lives. Your expertise contributes to a healthier society.
  • Quality of life – The biotech career path is a lucrative one in many ways. Biotechnology companies generally offer high salaries and robust benefits packages that provide a desirable quality of life that you may not find in other industries and professions. When you choose a biotech career path, you won’t have any trouble finding a position that satisfies your needs.
  • Career advancement – There are plenty of opportunities for career advancement and growth in biotechnology. Many of the larger companies provide leadership programs that offer structured access to networking and information that will help you grow your career with the company and beyond. With the right experience and background, the sky is the limit.

Are There any Cons?

We can’t discuss the pros and cons of biotechnology without mentioning the cons. Like any other profession and industry, biotechnology has its negative aspects. However, we’ll take these small inconveniences over other professions any day:

  • Job security – This may not be true for all cases, but job security could be an issue with the application of ongoing advanced technology in the workplace. Fewer people are needed to do certain tasks, while many biotechnology companies struggle to keep up with new innovations and fall behind. Unfortunately, these issues can lead to layoffs and downsizing.
  • Deadlines – You will be expected to work on many projects that may be deadline based. As a result, you may work in a high-stress environment. Biotechnology companies are always developing new medicine or products within a specified period of time. The pressure of deadlines can have a negative effect on your well-being.
  • Expensive travel – Oftentimes, biotechnology companies require you to travel and the expense can take a toll on your personal life. When pursuing a biotech career path, you’ll want to ask whether a position requires travel and if those expenses are paid.
  • Less autonomy – The biotech industry culture is one of teamwork. For those individuals who prefer to work alone, it may be less than ideal. Also, project work is frequently tracked with detailed reports, which may eventually feel automated and impersonal.

What The Future Demand Will Be Like?

The pandemic has shed new light on the importance of the biotech career path and the impact professionals in this industry make in the world. The future of a biotech career is bright and remains in demand. Companies are responding faster than ever to emerging health threats and this trend is expected to continue. Numerous biotechnology companies around the world have committed significant funding to the research and development of new vaccines. There is also work being done in preventative medicine. Some reasons for the uptick in the biotechnology market include:

  • Increased demand for new drug advancements
  • Rise of agricultural biotechnology
  • Threat of new pandemics

The past few years have shown us one thing. Biotechnology is the next big thing and we are ready for it. Our staffing firm is poised to make an impact on the growing demand for biotechnology talent by matching great talent with great companies.

Contact Us Today

Our review of the pros and cons of biotechnology is part of our mission to make a positive impact on all biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies by bringing value to this noble industry. Research indicates that the demand for talented people will continue to grow and we intend to be at the forefront of making staffing connections. With offices in San Diego, Orange County, and the San Francisco Bay area, we are always available to answer any questions you might have about our services. Contact us today to get started!