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Bioinformatics Technician: Job Description & Career Requirements

Bioinformatics technicians analyze complex biological processes. Learn more about what they do and what kind of education and skills are necessary for employment. Get details about salary and career prospects to see if this job is right for you.

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Career Definition of a Bioinformatics Technician

Bioinformatics technicians use sophisticated computer programs to gather, analyze, and track data about biological functions or characteristics in order to gain a better understanding of complex biological activities. They may study DNA or the properties and characteristics of cells. Bioinformatics technicians complete statistical analyses and can prepare reports on their findings.

Education Associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate degree
Job Skills Strong math and science background, computer programming and database management skills, organizational and detail-oriented abilities
Median Salary (2015) $42,700* (for statistical assistants)
Job Growth (2014-2024) -2%** (for statistical assistants)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine

Education Required

Entry-level jobs in bioinformatics technology often require a 2-year or 4-year degree, but advanced positions are usually only available to those with a master's degree or doctorate, which can take up to four additional years to obtain. Students interested in bioinformatics technology should take classes in subjects such as computer science, advanced mathematics, statistics, physiology, genetics, chemistry, biology, and microbiology. Graduate programs in bioinformatics may include courses in computational biology and genomics.

Necessary Skills

Bioinformatics technicians must have strong math and science backgrounds, and they need to possess advanced computer skills, including software programming and database management skills. The ability to use statistical software programs and interactive websites to retrieve data is essential. Technicians should also be organized, detail-oriented, and capable of collecting and analyzing large amounts of data.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes bioinformatics technicians as part of the category of statistical assistants. These workers had a median annual salary of $42,700 in May 2015, according to the BLS. Bioinformatics technicians are employed by research labs, pharmaceutical companies, crime labs, hospitals, and clinics, to name a few. O*NET OnLine projects that the number of jobs for statistical assistants will decrease 2% from 2014-2024.

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Alternate Career Options

Similar careers to a bioinformatics technician include:

Bioinformatics Scientist

Bioinformatics scientists gather and analyze information for use in clinical and research activities related to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and related projects. Bioinformatics scientists talk to researchers to identify the research problem and develop analytical processes that can be applied to collected data sets. They also report on the findings of their research.

This occupation commonly requires a graduate degree, although the requirements can vary by employer. According to O*NET OnLine, the number of jobs in this field is expected to remain roughly the same (-1% to 1% change) from 2014-2024, with approximately 9,700 positions; the agency also reported that bioinformatics scientists earned median salaries of $75,150 in 2015.

Actuary

An actuary performs calculations and analyses on collected information to determine how likely something is to happen; an actuary's work is usually related to helping companies make decisions and plans to help minimize risk. Actuaries can work in the fields of health insurance, property and casualty insurance, life insurance, and pension benefits.

Actuaries usually have a bachelor's degree in a field such as math, statistics or actuarial science. Required professional certification takes several years, extensive preparation, and a series of tests. Additional federal licensing requirements apply for pension actuaries. The BLS reports that jobs for actuaries are expected to increase 18% from 2014-2024, and that actuaries earned median pay of $97,070 in 2015.

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