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Become a Biotech Biologist: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a biotech biologist. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to advance your career in biotechnology.

Should I Become a Biotech Biologist?

Biotech biologists are researchers who specialize in the field of biotechnology. This is a field of biology that can be applied to many areas, such as drug development, DNA forensics, farming, and genetically modified foods.

Advantages to working in the field of biotechnology include contributing in a meaningful way to the progression of helpful products, the independence of workers, and the challenge of interesting work. Finding employment in this field may be challenging, however. Biotech biologists' work may be tedious, as they repeat similar experiments and record results until distinctive findings make themselves known.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor's degree for entry-level work; many positions require an advanced degree
Degree Field Related field, such as biological sciences, chemistry, biochemistry or molecular biology
Experience 2-5 years of relevant experience
Key Skills Effective verbal and written communication, organizational and time-management skills, familiarity with field-specific scientific software, excellent knowledge of biology and chemistry principles
Salary (2014) $79,200 (average salary for all biological scientists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

Prospective biotech biologists can begin their career training by earning a bachelor's degree in biological science or a related field, including chemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry. Some universities offering a bachelor's degree in biological sciences allow students to choose a specific area of concentration, such as genetics and molecular biology, plant biology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology or neurobiology.

A biological science major allows students to acquire knowledge and gain a deep understanding of general biology. This can include knowledge of genetics, regulation, biological molecules, cell structure and function. Coursework for this bachelor's degree program may also cover topics that include organic chemistry, cell biology, physics and mathematics.

Success Tip

  • Gain work experience while still in school. Most employers require at least two years of work experience. To meet this requirement and become competitive candidates after graduation, aspiring biotech biologists can consider working in research laboratories on campus. Many schools provide students with opportunities to work in research and gain hands-on experience while working with experienced faculty members.

Step 2: Earn a Master's Degree

Master's degree programs in the biological sciences give students the opportunity to receive advanced training in a specialty of their choosing, as well as tailor their educational experience to fit their career goals. As a student in a master's program, one can expect to develop strong research skills, specifically in planning, conducting, analyzing and reporting original research. Many schools offer a wide variety of areas of specialization, including cellular biology, molecular genetics, genetics, cellular physiology and plant pathology.

Step 3: Complete a Doctoral Program

Studying in a doctoral program, such as the Doctor of Philosophy in Biological Sciences, may qualify biotech biologists for leadership roles in industrial, governmental and academic settings. These doctoral programs are designed to give students advanced training in the ethical conduct of research, writing research papers and grant applications, professional skill development and presenting lectures. Students can expect to receive training in how to effectively communicate scientific concepts, breadth of coursework and extensive research experience.

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