General Biotechnology

The term 'biotechnology' refers to the use of technology to work with and alter biological specimens and living creatures. Biotechnology combines the disciplines of biology, genetics, chemistry, engineering and robotics. Read on to learn more about the field, plus career and education information, to see if it's right for you.

Is General Biotechnology for Me?

Overview

General biotechnology is a fusion of technology and engineering with the life sciences through which scientists create new products by modifying molecular biology. There are a variety of career paths available within the three areas of biotechnology: agricultural research and development, medical research and development and production. Three main career paths are as geneticists, animal research associates and as assay analysts. A geneticist strives to create new medicines and foods by altering the genetic codes of living organisms, while an animal research associate experiments with animals for research. An assay analyst works mostly with tissues and cell cultures.

Requirements

If you wish to work in general biotechnology, then you will be required to earn at least a bachelor's degree in biotechnology. For instance, a geneticist works mostly in academia, the biotechnology industry or with the government. Typically, if you wish to become a geneticist, you will need to study either genetics or biology as an undergraduate. Better job opportunities will be available if you earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in either genetics or biotechnology. These programs will involve significant amounts of research and lab work.

Biomedical Career

As a biomedical engineer you would work with innovative technology to produce prosthetics and lifesaving machinery such as sensors and monitors. The specialties available for this career path include biomechanics, medical imaging, orthopedic imaging and rehabilitation, among others. You would work mostly in hospitals and research facilities, and would need at least a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering or another field of engineering with a minor or significant work experience with the life sciences.

Agricultural Career

If you choose to work within agricultural research and development, then you would get to choose between plants and animals. If working with plants, you could improve crops by creating hybrid plants that are superior to previous generations by being able to thrive in harsh environments. If you were to work with animals, you could treat and prevent diseases prominent in animals. You could also modify their genetic makeup to create hybrid breeds that are preferable for farmers.

Production Career

You could also choose to work in production. This field would allow you to take results from biotechnological research and create products within a lab that could then be moved onto the marketplace. Through mass-production of these products, such as drugs, you could make a difference in the lives of others. In fact, many choose this field because they believe the work to be meaningful. These products can potentially improve the lives of others. In addition, there is a certain degree of independence allowed by working in biotechnology, depending on your chosen field.

Employment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wages in May 2012 were $81,480 for biochemists and biophysicists, $66,260 for microbiologists and $72,700 for biological scientists (www.bls.gov). Biological technicians earned median pay of $39,750 that same year.

How Can I Work in General Biotechnology?

Undergraduate Education

At least a bachelor's degree in biotechnology or a similar field is required to work in this field. A Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology degree program will usually cover an array of specialties within this area of science. For instance, areas of concentration might include bioengineering, nanotechnology, bioinformatics, life sciences or management principles. Courses will usually include general education subjects such as history, art, foreign language and writing. Mathematics, physics and numerous chemistry courses are usually required in order to graduate. In addition, courses in molecular biology, microbiology, biochemistry and advanced biotechnology will be essential.

Graduate Education

Earning a master's degree in biotechnology will allow you to teach in secondary schools and community colleges, as well as prepare you for a doctorate degree program. These programs will delve deeper into the subjects covered through an undergraduate program. Upon graduation, you will have gained an advanced knowledge of molecular and cellular biological principles. Immunology, neurobiology and bioterrorism may also be covered. A doctoral degree in this field will allow you to specialize in a particular area of general biotechnology in great detail and allow you to teach at the postsecondary level. Areas of specialization include toxicology, pharmacology and human genetics, to name a few.

Related Articles for General Biotechnology

View More Articles

Related Videos

  • Biotechnology Management Degrees - Video

    Biotechnology Management degree programs combine a management education with courses in biological science. Most programs are designed to prepare students for leadership positions in pharmaceutical, medical device and biotech companies. Learn more about earning a degree in Biotechnology Management here.
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Johns Hopkins University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • American InterContinental University

    American InterContinental University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American InterContinental University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Fortis College

    Fortis College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Fortis College:

    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Hyattsville
  • Indiana Wesleyan University

    Indiana Wesleyan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Indiana Wesleyan University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Technical University

    Colorado Technical University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Technical University:

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »