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Job and Career Opportunities in Biological Science & Technology

Overview
Bioscience & Biotechnology Workers Needed!
Qualifications, Education & Training
Entry Level Jobs
Helpful Services
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Overview

Biological science is the study of living organisms and their relationship to the environment. Biological technology is the use of living systems and organisms to develop or make useful products.

The biological science & technology field primarily employ biologists.

Biologists learn how living things work, how they interact with one another, and how they evolve. They may study cells under a microscope, insects in a rainforest, viruses that affect human beings, plants in a greenhouse, or lions in the African grasslands.

Their work increases our understanding about the natural world in which we live and helps us address issues of personal well-being and worldwide concern, such as environmental depletion, threats to human health, and maintaining viable and abundant food supplies.

Biotechnology is commonly used in agriculture, food production and medicine. It has expanded to include new and diverse sciences such as genomics, recombinant gene technologies, applied immunology, and development of pharmaceutical therapies and diagnostic tests.

Biological science careers can offer a variety of choices in different branches of biology.

Employment opportunities are plentiful and careers can be found in a variety of industries such as health care, pharmaceutical, research, education and manufacturing, among others.

For example:
Health care: Doctors, dentists, nurses, and other health care professionals all have strong backgrounds in biology. In addition, a career in health care may lead you to:

  • Develop public health campaigns to defeat illnesses such as tuberculosis, AIDS, cancer, and heart disease.
  • Prevent the spread of rare, deadly diseases, such as the Ebola virus.
  • Tend to sick and injured animals.

Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments. They are responsible for doing scientific tests, experiments, and analyses under the supervision of biologists or other scientists who direct and evaluate their work.

BioTechs use traditional laboratory instruments and advanced robotics and automated equipment to conduct experiments. They use specialized computer software to collect, analyze, and model experimental data.

Biological technicians work in many areas of research. They may assist with medical research by helping develop new medicines and treatments used to prevent, treat, or cure diseases or work in microbiology, sometimes referred to as laboratory assistants, studying living organisms and infectious agents.

Technicians working in biotechnology apply the knowledge and techniques they have gained from basic research to product development.

A microbiologist studies bacterial resistance to antibiotics. This can lead to stronger and better medicines to fight infectious diseases. Microbiologists study the growth, development, and other characteristics of microscopic organisms such as bacteria, algae, and fungi.

Biologists in management and conservation careers work toward solving environmental problems and preserving the natural world for future generations. Park rangers protect state and national parks, help preserve natural resources, and educate the general public. Zoo biologists carry out endangered species recovery programs.

Environmental scientists look at pollution and other environmental problems and come up with solutions. They figure out what is in the air, water, and soil to make sure that the environment is safe. They also give advice on how to clean the environment. For example, they might design a safe way to get rid of trash.

Some of these workers mix environmental science with other sciences, such as chemistry or biology. Environmental chemists find out if different chemicals hurt the environment. Environmental biologists focus on protecting animals and plants.

Some environmental scientists help to make laws about protecting the environment. They also help companies follow the laws.

Environmental scientists work in laboratories and offices. They also work outside, taking measurements. They use math and computers.

Environmental scientists sometimes work long hours. Some must travel to work in the field. They might dig dirt, chip rocks, or do other physical things. Scientists who look for oil often work in foreign countries.

Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.
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Bioscience & Biotechnology Workers Needed!

Employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2010 to 2020, as fast as the average for all occupations. Continued growth in biotechnology and medical research is expected to increase demand for these workers.

Employment of biochemists and biophysicists is projected to increase by 31 percent from 2010 to 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations. More biochemists and biophysicists will be needed to use the knowledge they have gained from basic research to develop biological products and processes that improve our lives.

Employment of microbiologists is expected to increase by 13 percent from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations. More microbiologists will be needed to apply knowledge from basic research to develop biological products and processes that improve our lives.

Employment of medical scientists is expected to increase by 36 percent between 2010 and 2020, much faster than the average for all occupations.
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Qualifications, Education and Training

For most jobs in this industry you’ll need a college degree and in many cases a Ph.D. The most obvious is a degree in biology. In healthcare there are entry level positions that only require a certificate or Associate’s degree.

Biological technicians typically need a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. It is important for prospective biological technicians to gain laboratory experience while in school.

Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development. Most Ph.D. holders begin their careers in a temporary postdoctoral research position that typically lasts 2 to 3 years. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders qualify for some entry-level positions in biochemistry and biophysics.

A bachelor’s degree in microbiology or a closely related field is needed for entry-level microbiologist jobs. A Ph.D. is typically needed to carry out independent research and to work in colleges and universities.

Medical scientists typically need a Ph.D., usually in biology or a related life science, from an accredited postsecondary institution. Some also have a medical degree.

If you are interested in one of these biological careers, there are some things you can do along the way to prepare yourself.

In high school

  • Take courses in math and science. Biologists need a solid understanding of math, chemistry, physics, and of course biology. Taking these courses in high school will provide you with an excellent background and allow you to explore what scientists do.
  • Talk to biologists. If you are interested in a health care career, visit doctors or veterinarians and ask for a moment to talk about their careers. If you are interested in outdoor work, talk to park rangers, land managers, and other professionals in your area.

In college

  • Talk to your advisor. Your faculty advisor or guidance counselor is a great source of information for advice on classes to take, career path options, and job opportunities.
  • For some biology jobs, a two-year college degree is sufficient. But most life science careers require at least a bachelor's degree and often an advanced degree, such as a master's degree. Research jobs typically require a doctorate, which may take five or six years of intense and demanding training.

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Entry Level Jobs

A recent search of entry level jobs in this industry returned job titles such as:

Research Assistant
Microbiology Technician
Compounding Chemist
Environmental Scientist
Biology Technician
Associate of Biochemical Nomenclature
Cytogenetic Technician
Principle Animal Technician
Technician I Bio/Pharm Production
Scientist I, Biology
QA Specialist - Entry Level
Entry Level Lab Tech
Entry Level Analyst
Entry Level Sales Associate – Cardiology
Technical Sales Representative - Molecular Biology
Entry level Biologist/Chemist - Get your Foot in the Door!
Research Technician I

Note: Job at the assistant or technician level typically require an Associate’s degree, others a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.

If you are interested in pursuing BioScience & Technology jobs, search for these types of job titles in the database and from our supporters on the right.
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Helpful Services

Biological Sciences Jobs in the Federal Government
http://www.makingthedifference.org/federalcareers/biologicalsciences.shtml

Medical physicists and health physicists: Radiation occupations
http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2011/summer/art02.pdf

American Institute of Biological Sciences
http://www.aibs.org/careers/resources/career_brochure.pdf