There’s no denying that the U.S. is a global powerhouse across many sectors, but the Land of the Free is especially dominating the biotechnology industry.
The global industry itself has grown exponentially in the last decade. To put it into perspective, there were only 3 biotechnology companies that made over a billion dollars in 2007. By 2014, that number had increased by almost 9 times.
Biotech is one of the fastest-growing career fields in the U.S. The industry has grown 2.2% since 2012, accounting for nearly 1.7 million jobs paying a median salary of $94,543.
If you’re thinking about getting in on the action and pursuing one of the many biotechnology careers out there, keep reading to learn about the hottest biotech careers to consider in 2020 and beyond.
What is Biotechnology?
Before we dive in, let’s first discuss what biotechnology even is.
Simply put, biotech is the culmination of technology and biology. It’s most often applied in the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s applications spread a lot farther and run a lot deeper than just that.
The major categories of biotech are research and testing, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and medical laboratories.
Any time you hear about a new drug or a new vaccine, or anything related to genetic modification, biotechnology is at play.
It is used in the fields of medicine, chemistry, food and animal sciences, environmental science, and engineering. There really is no limit to what can be learned and applied through the practice of biotechnology.
The Road Map to Becoming a Biotechnologist
There is no cut and dry answer or route you should take if you want to start a career in biotechnology. However, there are some steps you can take to make your path a bit easier.
Begin Your Studies Early
It’s never too early to lay the groundwork for your career. This can start as early as high school.
If you (or your children) are under the age of 18 and have an interest in the sciences, homing in on that interest from an early age can put you leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.
Sign up for biology and chemistry electives in high school. Look into advanced placement programs that allow you to start building credits toward your university education.
Decide On Your Field of Study
If you’re already out of high school and wanting to start your career in biotech, don’t worry. It helps to start early, but it’s not a requirement.
What is a requirement, however, is taking the time to decide what field you want to specialize in. While you can always change course down the road, having a clear picture of your goals will make things a lot easier.
The first element of a successful career in biotechnology is education. It is a highly specialized field that requires years upon years of education and development.
And science is at the foundation of that education. The best way to get started in the biotech industry is to immerse yourself in science.
While having a clear goal in mind for your career is great, it’s also important to stay open-minded and flexible.
The industry is constantly changing, and if you’re too laser-focused on one area of study, you might miss out on other opportunities that are well-suited to you.
The biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether you want to work for a big-shot pharmaceutical company or a small, innovative start-up. But you can make that decision a little farther down the road.
Get Your Bachelor’s Degree
Most biotech jobs require at least a Bachelor’s degree to get your foot in the door. Once you complete high school, get started right away on your Bachelor’s degree in whatever field you decide to pursue.
You can get your degree in biology, chemistry, biotechnology, or any other closely related field.
Then, you can move onto postgraduate studies. For a biotechnologist, your education is never over.
You can move onto a Master’s degree, and eventually, get your Doctorate (Ph.D.), and you still won’t be done learning.
Now that you know roughly how to go about beginning your career in biotechnology, here are some of the more specific career paths you can take.
Biochemist / Biophysicist
The job of a biochemist or biophysicist consists of long days in the lab. The primary function of their role is researching how organisms function, and how they can apply their findings to solve specific problems.
A big part of the job has to do with analytics. Visit this site for more information about lab analytics if that’s a field you’re interested in.
Any time you hear of animals being crossbred or food being genetically modified, that’s an animal scientist at work.
This role consists of extensive research and development into how animals can be modified to produce better animal products for human consumption.
Another big part of the job is finding ways to make farming and agriculture more energy cost-efficient for farmers.
Another job related to making farming more efficient, agricultural engineers are tasked with researching and developing the best ways to optimize agricultural systems like watering, seeding, animal habitats, and harvesting.
This job is well suited for those who’d like to split their time between design and practical application.
This is the important job of identifying and stopping the spreading of diseases.
Whether it’s from animal to animal or animal to human, epidemiologists look at the development and transmission of diseases and develop vaccines and drugs to prevent these diseases from spreading.
Similar in some ways to the role of a biochemist, food scientists gain a level of expertise in the world of nutrition and use it to research, develop, and apply innovative methods of food preservation and food processing.
For example, the latest technologies in canning, fermentation, and pasteurization are the work of a food scientist.
Start Your Biotech Career Today
As you can see, biotechnology careers are vast and complex. There’s no sign of slowing down for the industry, and anyone with an interest in or an aptitude for the sciences can find a fulfilling, important career in this sector.
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