Science, Technology & Environment
Biotechnologists study plants, animals, biological systems and processes to develop new products or solve problems.
What does a Biotechnologist do?
Biotechnologists study plants, animals, biological systems and processes to develop new products or solve problems in areas such as pharmaceutical manufacture, agriculture, environmental protection, and improving industrial processes. Their work may incorporate the use of small molecule technologies, nanotechnology, bioinformatics and synthetic biology.
As a biotechnologist, you would:
- determine the objectives and methods of research
- collect and analyse data
- prepare reports based on your findings
- present the findings or publish reports
- keep administrative records.
Biotechnologists might work in developing new products or improved processes in areas such as:
- new vaccines to treat diseases
- genetically modified plants with resistance to pests
- improved detection of diseases
- treatments for human infertility
- bacteria capable of cleaning up oil spills or polluted land
- creating biological dyes or biodegradeable plastics
- environmentally friendly biofuels.
Key skills and interests
To become a biotechnologist, you would need:
- a strong interest in science
- good technical scientific research skills
- an enquiring mind and good problem-solving skills
- a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- the ability to analyse statistical and technical data
- good computer skills
- good written communication skills.
Working hours and conditions
You would usually work a standard number of hours during the week. This might include nights and weekends if you are involved in research which needs continuous monitoring.
You would mainly work in a laboratory, often in sterile conditions. You would normally wear protective clothing such as a lab coat and safety glasses.
How to become an Biotechnologist?
Entry Level Education
To become a biotechnologist you usually have to complete a degree in biology, biotechnology, biochemistry or a degree in science with a major in one of these areas. You can also become a biotechnologist by completing a degree in chemical engineering with a major in biological engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, earth and environmental science, and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Employment of biotechnologists is projected to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations. Greater demand for biotechnology research is expected to increase the need for these workers.
Biotechnologists will be needed to help scientists develop new treatments for diseases, such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. In agriculture, biotechnologists will continue research into genetically engineered crops and improved livestock yields. In addition, biotechnologists will be needed to help develop alternative sources of energy, such as biofuels, and to find new and improved ways to clean up and preserve the natural environment.