For decades, biotechnology has accomplished amazing and almost impossible achievements that have made remarkable change on how we perceive science and the world.
Genetic engineering; the sequencing of the human genome; the cloning of Dolly the sheep; gene therapy; the genetic manipulation of plants that greatly helped with crop production and crop enhancement; the regeneration of human organs; and the potential resurrection of species as more complex and dynamic methods under the field of study continue to grow. These are just some of the wonders of biotechnology.
Just by the above examples, it’s no wonder why this field of study has been considered an exceptional discipline as it aims to contribute something remarkable for the betterment of humankind. And on top of that, pursuing a biotech degree can also guide you towards a fulfilling lifetime career.
In this short guide, we’ll be showing you some of the things you need to take note of if you’re planning to pursue a career in biotechnology.
Having a general knowledge on biotechnology will give you a perspective on what you should expect upon pursuing the discipline. It can also act as an encouragement in your initial preparations.
Just to give you a simple prospect about this field of study, let’s first have a short discussion on its nature before moving on to more technical aspects.
So going back to our question, what is biotechnology?
Dissecting the term into two, ‘bio’ and ‘technology’, you already know that it’s the combination of biology (or the sciences) and technology working together through different principles and methods.
Earlier, we laid down some of the wonders that biotechnology has created. As you can see, the discipline uses the dynamics between biology and technology to deal with the current scientific and socio-cultural issues the world is facing.
To illustrate, let’s imagine that we are in a historical context where crop and food production is vulnerable because of pests. Because of this, a village or community that largely depends on these crops as their primary source of survival and income may find themselves in a difficult situation.
Here’s where biotechnology comes in. Scientists can come up with solutions to help these families affected by the crisis. We have several real-life examples for these. The Bt Cotton, for example, is a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) that is pest resistant. So by genetically modifying transgenic crops, they can survive environmental threats and even improve their overall quality.
This field of study has a relatively heavy reliance on technology as all of their methods have to adapt and adjust to the current needs of modern science and society. While that’s the case, the depths of biotechnology doesn’t stop at contemporary issues.
Biotechnology dates all the way back to as far as 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia when people used bacteria to convert wine into vinegar. And up until today, biotechnology can be virtually found everywhere. A large portion of processed food items you buy at the grocery are actually biotech products. These products include your breakfast cereal, your coffee, the canola oil you use to cook your meals, the medications in your prescriptions, and so much more.
Now if we are to think about the practicality and applicability of the discipline to our daily lives, the opportunities you can get by pursuing a degree in biotechnology is almost endless especially at a time when technology plays a great role in everyone’s lives.
So, what are your possible career prospects?
To become a biotech scientist or biotechnologist, it usually requires a PhD and a significant amount of postdoctoral experience under the discipline. There are many institutions that are in need of biotech professionals.
Some of these institutions are: pharmaceutical and chemical firms, biotechnology and genetic engineering companies, universities, hospitals, research institutions, agricultural and crop production corporations, and even government institutions.
A lot of your work will also be extensive because of the knowledge and experience you’ll have gained before being a biotechnologist. So here, you will be doing a lot of practical research, experiments, and other laboratory operations.
Overall, you will be designing, implementing, and handling experiments that can visibly improve human life.
If you’re still in the initial years of your career, you can start as a professor. By choosing this career, you have the option to pursue graduate and postgraduate studies while slowly building up your career’s foundation. This practical and strategic arrangement can help you bring about a faster career growth.
On top of that, as a professor or instructor, you will also have the opportunity to share knowledge on biotechnology and take part in the molding of great minds under your field of study, a career that is usually taken for granted.
Remember: do not stop after your degree in biotechnology. You should also contribute to the growth of your field to create more research and methods that can help societies in the long run.
Researchers have many career paths of different industries to choose from as nowadays, a lot of firms are in need of reliable scientific research studies. You will be primarily focusing on intensive and extensive research that can help with the company’s growth of its industry.
A lot of researchers will also be working for or with biotechnologists. Getting such a chance can give you opportunities and higher chances to advance your career.
Biomedical engineers usually work under medical or healthcare institutions like pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. They use their expertise in biotechnology to improve the overall quality of healthcare systems in different institutions across the globe. They design biomedical equipment, devices, and softwares like artificial organs and machines.
If you want to pursue a career as a biomedical engineer, you will be required to take several units in engineering as well.
Knowing some of the career paths you can take with a degree in biotechnology, let’s now check out the different types of biotech degrees that can help you in your chosen career. Familiarizing yourself with the choices available can help you better in choosing the type of degree you want to take and the one that can best suit your studying preferences and needs.
Certificate programs can be taken by students who want to gain familiarity with a specific specialization under biotechnology. These types of degrees usually consist of only a few academic units or credits and can be done in a relatively shorter period of time as compared to other programs.
Certificate programs are practical for working professionals who want a brief background on a specific area of biotechnology due to their primary career. Some also take special certificate programs consisting of classes that focus on the practical applications of biotechnology.
These programs usually require internships or a small amount of working experience in different lines of work under biotechnology. A related bachelor’s degree is also encouraged and may even be compulsory for some institutions before pursuing these programs. This is because the courses mainly consist of advanced topics on the field. Most associate degree programs are structured to be completed in at least two years.
The program’s design may also work for working professionals with a few changes to the arrangement of academic units per term. For example, you can take only one subject per semester if you have a heavy workload and this arrangement can help you balance studies with your job.
Bachelor degree programs in biotechnology are uncommon today because biotech is considered as a specialization under the ‘main’ sciences. So usually, those who want to pursue a career in this field are encouraged to take a science degree first (such as biology or chemistry) and then take an associate, a master’s, or a PhD afterwards.
A few universities, however, do offer biotech degree courses. Because of its growth and demand as a discipline, a lot of institutions are now beginning to implement and design bachelor’s programs for those interested in building a career under the field.
If you want to take full advantages of the benefits of modern e-learning, online degrees are your way to go. However, the universities offering these types of programs typically require students to have hands-on experiences or training through brief residencies or university-arranged lab work.
In addition, online degrees are usually only available for master’s level so they can only be taken after your bachelor’s degree. But in special cases, a few units can be taken alongside your bachelor courses depending on the institution’s standards.
As you’re already aware of, online learning programs commonly consist of webinars, online calls, meetings, or discussions through video chats, open chat forums, and other online activities. All your assignments will be submitted through online platforms. You will need to be proficient with a lot of pc and online operations because these skills can help you better in handling your studies.
You will also be experiencing a lot of self-studying mode of learning. The main practical benefits for these types of programs primarily hinge on the flexibility and convenience and you will be able to work on your studies without the hassle of going to the classroom. Additionally, a lot of online learning programs are much less expensive than those in the traditional university settings. So you can also save up a few bucks here and there.
These types of programs are ideal for working professionals who want to earn a degree in biotech without giving up too much on their personal and professional duties.
If you are to take up a biotech degree, expect that you will be encountering these subjects. So before pursuing the degree, you can read up on general scopes on the courses. These subjects will always be interconnected or interrelated to biotechnology.
In other words, expect that you will be experiencing an interdisciplinary mode of learning as you earn your biotech degree.
- General Biology
- Molecular Biology
- Pathology Sciences
- Systematics Biology
- Cell Biology
- Anatomical Sciences
- Microbiological Sciences
- Biological & Biomedical Sciences
- Botany or Plant Biology
- Molecular Medicine
There you have it! I know that it’s a lot of information to take in. But more often than not, we receive better outcomes when we are well-prepared.
So use this guide as your initial step towards your biotech degree and career. Take as much time as you want in choosing your degree, your preferred major and specialization, and your career plans. With well thought-through planning, you’ll get to where you want to be no matter the circumstances!