What Can You Do with a Biotechnology Degree?
Biotechnology is a massive industry at the forefront of new discoveries in science and technology. Careers in biotechnology cover genetics, agriculture, drug development, engineering, and others. In-demand jobs inside and outside a laboratory make for a unique environment that allows many to benefit from what biotechnology careers offer. In this industry that requires candidates to meet skills and education expectations many students are considering a degree in biotechnology. When weighing options for which degrees to pursue in college, one might wonder what can you do with a biotechnology degree? Is biotechnology a good career path? Since the biotechnology industry spans various fields, you are guaranteed to find a niche within your chosen specialization. With college classes already stressful enough as it is, we understand that choosing a degree is a high stakes decision. Hoping to help you choose the right path for your future, we put together this guide of 20 biotech career opportunities.
Agriculture and Food Scientist
For candidates who thrive on making change in food and farming, one career option is to become an agriculture and food scientist. One can make an impact in the agricultural sector by working to improve crop yields, soil composition, and traditional farming techniques. Students considering this role would need a bachelor’s in biology, chemistry, biotechnology, or conservation. They may also take specialized classes that dive into plant physiology, soil chemistry, food analysis and food engineering. Lab classes will also help students develop observational and research skills needed for field and lab work. Agriculture and food science is an ideal path for those looking to make a positive change in sustainable and productive agriculture and farming techniques. The average median salary of an Agriculture and Food Scientist in 2021 was $74,160.
In a similar vein to agriculture and food science, animal scientists focus on research related to domestic animal production and management. In ensuring farming and production facilities operate per health codes, an animal scientist has a direct effect on improving food production conditions. Students looking to become animal scientists would need to focus on classes that cover genetics, nutrition, and reproduction related to the livestock industry. Biology, chemistry, and food production are all necessary subjects in animal science. Becoming an animal scientist is great for those seeking to make efficient and humane changes to the livestock industry. The average median salary for an animal scientist in 2019 was $60,300.
Students who are interested in the building blocks of life may find a rewarding career in biochemistry. As a biochemist, one would study the chemical processes of molecules and cells in living organisms. This field works in either basic research or applied research. While basic research aims to understand the inner workings of biosciences throughs studying cells, proteins, and DNA, applied research aims to produce products like medicines, biofuels, or genetically engineered crops. Biochemistry is perfect for people who want to contribute to immediate and long-term knowledge. While working in teams conducting experiments, it’s vital to have excellent communication, problem-solving, and time management skills. Students interested in becoming a biochemist can find success following a degree in biotechnology, biochemistry, biology, or other related fields. In 2021, the average median pay for biochemists was $102,270.
With a big push towards sustainability, chemistry and engineering students can put their education towards becoming biofuel engineers. These engineers work in harnessing energy from organic matter as a renewable source. Biofuel engineers design and oversee the procedures and equipment used to generate biofuel. This career path is one of many that contributes to agricultural efficiency, sustainable manufacturing, and improving industrial impacts on the environment. To land a position as a biofuel engineer, a student could pursue a chemical engineering major or related degree such as biotechnology. Coursework should include laboratory and field experience where skills in analysis and innovative thinking develop. Becoming a biofuel engineer is perfect for students that want to see their career evolve with time alongside technology. The U.S. national average salary for biofuel engineers was $120,969 as of October 2022.
Biological and clinical technicians have unique options for working environments and generally work under the supervision of a scientist or lab manager. These technicians typically require a degree in biology, chemistry, microbiology, or a related field. Both require observational and technical skills when operating laboratory instruments and machines and analyzing testing data. A biological technician can assist in research for medical, industrial, and environmental industries. Clinical technicians generally work in hospitals or clinical laboratories. These technicians create an efficient environment by ensuring a clean, sterile lab that operates under all safety rules. This work is a great career path for those who enjoy hands-on work that applies to many specializations such as microbiology, zoology, and pathology. For the average median salary, biological and clinical technicians make a range of $48,140 to $57,000 per year.
With required skills in attention-to-detail, a biomanufacturing specialist oversees safety and quality of manufacturing processes. These specialists are required to know the ins and outs of complex protocols and programs within a changing manufacturing environment. Education required is a bachelor’s degree in biology, bioengineering, biotechnology, or another related biomedical field. A candidate needs excellent communication and detail-oriented skills to maintain current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) in these working environments. At the center of manufacturing, biomanufacturing specialist’s work upholds the integrity of medicines, vaccines, and other biotechnology products. The average median salary for a biomanufacturing specialist is $72,593.
Biomedical engineers design and create equipment, tools, or devices at the center of health care. Joining mechanics and biology, this career path looks at developing medical software, prostheses, biosensors, and more. Working in teams, biomedical engineers will find themselves in contact with scientists, healthcare workers, and other engineers. Other responsibilities include creating models, preparing technical reports, and presenting research findings. To become a biomedical engineer, students need a deep understanding of math and pursue a biotech degree or degree in engineering-related fields. A student should develop excellent analytical, creative, and problem-solving skills. With a changing landscape in 3D technology and Artificial Intelligence, biomedical engineers are great for students who seek a career as a pioneer in the biomedical field. The average median salary for a biomedical engineer was $97,140 in 2021.
Biomedical Equipment Technician
On the other side of designing and engineering, biomedical equipment technicians (BMET) are responsible for maintaining and repairing medical equipment. A BMET must stay up to date with the latest technical knowledge and safety regulations. They need attention to detail when recording repairs and maintenance and good communication for providing technical information. Like a biomedical engineer, a student interested in this career path would need an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in engineering or a related field like biotechnology. Certifications such as the Certified Biomedical Equipment Technician (CBET) exist to develop and demonstrate mechanical and technical skills. This career route is great for those who like the excitement of working hands-on to fix and perfect modern-day health care equipment. The national average salary for a biomedical equipment technician was $61,070 as of October 2022.
Like medical scientists, biomedical researchers aim to improve overall human health. While medical scientists diagnose and attempt to prevent diseases using treatments, biomedical researchers work towards developing medicine and treatments used. Day-to-day biomedical researchers will find themselves in the lab conducting experiments and tests. Biomedical researchers require a bachelor’s degree in biology, chemistry, biomedical sciences, or other biotechnology-related degrees. In academic settings, internships with lab experience are encouraged to build programming, math, and technical skills. Biomedical researchers can study infectious diseases, blood disorders, and cellular or molecular biology. The average pay for biomedical researchers nationwide is $78,457.
Students who are called more toward business management and are still scientifically inclined can find success as biotechnical consultants. With extensive knowledge in business and life science operations, a biotechnical consultant aids managers of companies in analyzing production cycles and organizational needs. Consultants act as contractors and can help companies with legal frameworks or financial and resource analysis. Typically, a bachelor’s degree in business analysis, life science, data science, or biotech is needed. Coursework should include mathematics, finance, accounting, technology, and management. Biotechnical consultation is a great career path for students intrigued by business management in the future of science and technology. The United States national average salary for biotechnical consultants is $83,320.
Clinical Research Coordinator
A clinical research coordinator (CRC) works under a clinical research supervisor, manager, or principal investigator. They aid in helping clinical trials and are responsible for ensuring all laws and regulations are followed. Other CRC responsibilities include maintaining records, recruiting participants, and overseeing clinical trial personnel. Students interested in pursuing this role can look forward to a long career in clinical trials as they build their education and industry experience. Most clinical research coordinator roles require bachelor’s degree in nursing, medical technology, microbiology, or other related field. Skills needed to succeed include: ability to manage, multi-task, and outstanding organization and communication goals when compiling reports or proposing budgets. Students who pursue biotech degrees will also learn laboratory and analytical skills required. This is a great path for those who want hands-on research and managerial work. The average salary for clinical research coordinators is $57,861 per year.
Candidates interested in taking a route toward criminal investigation may pursue a degree in biology, forensic studies, or a related degree. Students who typically enter this field choose bachelor’s degrees such as chemistry, genetics, or biochemistry. In their education, they must develop observational and analytical skills through lab coursework and internships. DNA analysts are vital in the criminal justice system as their day-to-day work collects, analyzes, and interprets data in criminal cases. A career here may work in the lab, in the field or in courtrooms when testifying upon the techniques, procedures, and results of collected evidence related to a case. If helping others solve puzzles and connect the dots, they may have been inclined toward scientific investigation and find a career in DNA analysis more than rewarding. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median salary for a DNA analyst in 2021 was $61,930.
An environmental biotechnologist studies the knowledge and development of natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. Environmental biotechnologists can earn a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, microbial ecology, soil microbiology, and other biosciences. Students who choose this career route can go into research, teaching, or business. They can work as scientists, policymakers, engineers, professors, or a combination of roles throughout their career. Typically, their responsibilities include carrying out biological testing and data analysis, and develop solutions for environmental problems and executing approved plans or techniques. With skills in analysis and problem solving, students who pursue environmental biotechnology can make a profound impact on maintaining and preserving the environment. The median annual salary for an environmental biotechnologist was $76,30 in 2021.
Genetic engineers help change the outlook of genetics in various industries like food and medicine. Related to bioengineers, students interested in this career need at minimum a bachelor’s degree and often pursue a doctorate. Possible degrees are genetic engineering, molecular biology, biophysics, biotechnology, or other bioengineering degrees. Students can complete internships, post-graduate degrees, or doctorate work for better opportunities in this field. Required skills include up-to-date knowledge of research techniques, computer programming, and creative thinking for solutions to unique problems. Students that like to think out of the box and work with DNA structures in labs will enjoy following career paths in genetic research and engineering. The annual median salary for genetic engineers in 2021 was $97,140.
Health and Safety Specialist
Health and safety specialists ensure all working environments adhere to regulations. These specialists are tedious in inspecting and testing working conditions and equipment. These specialists also collaborate with teams in various settings for training and developing safer working conditions. A health and safety specialist considers all factors that affect workers, the environment, the property, or the public. In upholding safety, comfort, and health, these specialists help create efficient working conditions. Students interested in detail-oriented fieldwork throughout their career should pursue a bachelor’s degree in occupational health, healthcare, biotechnology, or a related technical field. They must train in accident prevention and safety management. The average median salary for health and safety specialists was $77,560 in 2021.
In medical biotechnology, a medical scientist conducts research to understand, diagnose, and prevent human diseases. This research investigates medications, treatments, reactions to diseases, and prevention strategies. Using the scientific method, these scientists develop a hypothesis and lead research teams in experiments. This role typically requires a doctorate or medical degree. These degrees follow a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, biology, chemistry, or another life science field. When earning a graduate degree, a student can lean into specializations such as anatomy, pharmacology, pathology, biochemistry, and more. While it may take several years of laboratory and research education, a student fascinated by how medicine can improve the outlook of human health will find a meaningful career as a medical scientist. In 2021, the median pay for a medical scientist was $95,130.
Microbiologists study and aim to understand where microorganisms live and grow. Working in teams for research projects, they isolate and maintain microorganism cultures, monitor their effect on environments, and prepare reports based on their findings. Microbiologists can participate in basic research to expand general scientific knowledge or applied research that works toward solutions or developing new products. Microbiologists have various options for research including virology, environmental microbiology, and parasitology. Students fascinated by the tiniest of organisms can choose this route that provides variety within their career. For entry-level jobs, microbiologists typically need a bachelor’s degree in microbiology or related field and require a post-graduate or doctorate degree for research in universities. The 2021 medial salary for microbiologists was $79,260.
Process Development Scientist
Process development scientists are generally responsible for overseeing processes within their organization. These scientists collaborate with teams to design and implement efficient production methods. They may work in pharmaceuticals, food, biochemicals and other industries. Process development scientist must have a general understanding of biology, chemistry, and engineering when scaling drug or biological compounds to mass production. Students interested in developing project management, technical, and analytical skills can achieve a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, engineering, or biology to become a process development scientist. These scientists also monitor and follow regulatory rules throughout the production. This career path is great for someone who likes analyzing systems within biotechnology and making sure they are running as optimized as possible. The average United States process development scientist salary is $90,898.
Quality Control Technician
Quality control technicians are important in all stages of production. They ensure products are at company standard by testing products before, during, and after production. In adhering to all standards, industry laws, and regulations, these technicians must be detail-oriented, meticulous, and good record keepers. Most employers prefer candidates have a bachelor’s degree in a life science or biotechnology related field. With laboratory and manufacturing experience, students are more likely to get better job opportunities after college. These technicians are responsible for monitoring products, recommending adjustments, or removing products that do not meet specifications. Quality control happens across all industries and gives plenty of variety to the role. The average salary for quality control technicians can range from $38,580 to $59,312.
In experiments, research associates play an important role assisting in procedures. Students looking for entry-level research roles in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries should pursue a bachelor’s in biotechnology, chemistry, biology, or other life science degrees. Depending on the nature of the role, specific knowledge will be required. Students eager to join a company as a research associate can focus on specializations like molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology and more. Skills required are observational, analytical, and communication skills as research associates often report to scientists and laboratory members. Through coursework and internship lab experience, students can prepare for entry-level research associate roles after graduation. Students interested in contributing to science and medicine through research can start here and work their way up the ladder. The national average salary for a research associate role is $66,067.
Learn more about research and development career paths here.
The many opportunities a biotechnology degree can provide are endless. No matter where your interests lie, you are guaranteed to find and establish a fulfilling and worthwhile career in life sciences. One job will never look the same as the next, and a student who earns a biotech degree can look forward to a lifelong career of unique opportunities that contribute to science. After achieving a degree in biotech or a related life science field, BioPhase Solutions can help you make your first career steps into the industry. Whether it’s biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, or medical device, our recruiters have decades of experience helping recent graduates land the right opportunities with the right companies. If you’re a new graduate ready to begin your career, contact us to get started!