Biotech Scientist Schools and Careers

Biotechnology refers to the application of biological systems of living organisms to make, modify or enhance usable products. Get information on degrees that can prepare you for work in this field, and learn about the career options in biotechnology, including information technology, electronics and chemical engineering. Schools offering Biotechnology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

The world of consumer products is a big one, and everyday items that we use - everything from plastic to high-fructose corn syrup - were developed initially in the lab. If you want to be on the cutting edge of science for the future world of tomorrow and have a keen and creative analytical mind to do so, you may want to think about life as a biotech scientist and explore the educational and professional opportunities that exist in this field.

Responsibilities Research and development of consumer products, gathering data and writing reports, field research
Degree Bachelor's or master's degree for entry-level research assistant or lab technician
Courses Advanced math, biology, chemistry, physics, microbiology, genetics, immunology

What Would I Do As a Biotechnology Scientist?

As a biotechnologist, you're generally involved in applying the results of your research to the development of consumable products. While most biotechnologists specialize in one discipline, the field draws from subject areas as diverse as biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and molecular biology.

Since much of your work centers on research and development, a great deal of time can be spent writing proposals, recording data and preparing reports. You'll observe strict scientific protocols as you study human and plant diseases, growth hormones or gene function.

Where Could I Work?

As a biotechnologist, you could work in a scientific lab using data gathering, diagnostic and analytical equipment. You might conduct field research which involves gathering, identifying and analyzing wildlife samples. You might work in a mobile lab facility, such as an oceanographic research vessel.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 12% of biological technician jobs were with federal government agencies in 2017 (, so it is possible you could work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of the Interior or the National Institute of Health. Alternatively, you might find available positions at universities, pharmaceutical companies or independent biotechnology research labs.

Where Can I Study to Become a Biotech Scientist?

You'll typically be able to find a degree program in biotechnology from four-year universities. Some programs are available online or as a dual bachelor's and master's degree. The following schools are among those that offer opportunities to study biotechnology:

  • Johns Hopkins University (Washington, D.C. campus)
  • State University of New York (Syracuse)
  • University of Virginia (Charlottesville)
  • University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
  • University of Maryland, University College (Largo)
  • University of California Irvine

What Will I Study?

In preparation for a career as a biotechnologist, you'll take advanced math and a significant number of courses in biology, chemistry and physics. Your other courses might include bioinformatics and immunology. You'll learn how to use diagnostic equipment, computer analysis software and lab tools. In addition, you'll study some of these topics:

  • Lab techniques
  • Administration protocols
  • Safety procedures
  • Fundamentals of biology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • General chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry

What Degree Level Might I Consider?

The BLS reports that, after earning a bachelor's or master's degree, you'll be qualified to work as a research assistant. You can also work as a lab technician or conduct research in support of larger projects.

A master's degree in biotechnology could enable you to conduct advanced research or manage projects. You can expect to complete a thesis project, internship or case study in order to graduate from a master's degree program. Some graduate programs offer evening and weekend courses to accommodate working professionals, and fully online options may be available if you've completed the prerequisite lab courses.

What About a Doctoral Degree?

In order to lead independent research projects, the BLS maintains that most employers require candidates to have a Doctor of Philosophy in Biotechnology or a closely related field, such as biochemistry, microbiology or chemical engineering.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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