Becoming a Bioanalytical Scientist
So, you think you might like to become a bioanalytical scientist?
Bioanalytical scientists develop, test, and examine biological samples, such as vaccines and pharmaceutical products. They perform experiments and analyze how pharmaceuticals react with biological tissues. Bioanalytical scientists often work in biotechnical or pharmaceutical fields.
Bioanalytical scientists work in office and laboratory settings, splitting their work hours between the two. While much of their time is spent compiling information, precautionary measures - such as protective clothing, gear, and procedures - must be taken while handling potentially dangerous materials. Almost all such scientists work full-time, primarily during regular business hours.
|Degree Level||Bachelor's degree, though master's or doctoral degree is often preferred|
|Degree Fields||Chemistry, biology or a related field|
|Experience||At least two years of experience in bioanalytical science|
|Key Skills||Analytical, excellent written and verbal communication skills; analytical and medical software, development environment software, computer-aided design, experience with analytical testing methods, like enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), electrometers, pressure indicators, MRI scanners, monitoring devices|
|Salary (2016)||$26,610 per year (Median salary for all research scientists)|
Sources: Bioanalytical scientist job postings (December2012), PayScale.com, O*Net OnLine
So what are the career requirements? Starting with the right education is important. Employers look for someone with at least a bachelors' degree; however, most employers prefer someone with an advanced degree. The degree field is chemistry, biology, or a related field. Employers look for someone with at least two years of experience in bioanalytical science.
Key skills include analytical skills, written and verbal communication skills, critical thinking skills, mathematical skills, problem-solving skills, perseverance, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for all medical research scientists is $72,610.
Step 1: Get a Bachelor's Degree
A bachelor's degree in chemistry or biology can help prepare students for a career in bioanalytical science. Most chemistry programs have a variety of courses such as general, organic, inorganic, bio- and physical chemistry. Biology programs typically include courses in physics, chemistry and biology. Coursework for both programs usually include laboratory components designed to provide practical instruction in preparation for a research career.
Pursue an internship. Most schools offer internships or summer programs that provide hands-on experience in students' fields of study. Such training is particularly important for this career, since most bioanalytical scientist jobs require candidates to have prior experience.
Step 2: Get a Graduate Degree
A graduate degree in chemistry or biology isn't required for all bioanalytical scientist positions, but many employers prefer it. A master's degree program in chemistry typically takes a more advanced variety of courses in chemistry as well as coursework in analytical chemistry, which is particularly beneficial for a career in bioanalytical science.
Master's degree programs in biology are often available in a variety of concentrations, including cell and molecular biology, microbiology and ecology. Students may also choose to go on to earn PhDs in chemistry or biology, which provide advanced, research-based coursework and can open one up to greater job prospects.
Step 3: Gain Work Experience
Most employers require at least two years of experience for bioanalytical scientist positions. Someone who holds a graduate degree may not be required to have as much experience as one with a bachelor's degree. Bioanalytical scientists can gain such work experience through an entry-level position in a research facility. Most entry-level positions require employees to perform basic sample analyses and tests in addition to equipment maintenance.
Step 4: Pursue Supervisory Work
With experience, these scientists may advance to more complex duties, independent projects and leadership roles.
Earning a bachelor's degree, earning an advanced degree, gaining work experience, and pursuing supervisory work are great steps to follow to make the most of a career as a bioanalytical scientist.