Biotech is an established science with lots of emerging possibilities. It has become a hot commodity in the pharmaceutical industry over the last 10 to 20 years, primarily due to our increased understanding of human genetics. This is not to say that biotech doesn’t offer just as many opportunities in industrial and manufacturing environments. It is just that the biggest demand right now is in healthcare.
Biotech jobs in the pharmacy arena reside primarily in research and development. There isn’t a lot of biotech work going on at your local department store pharmacy. Even compounding pharmacies do not invest heavily in biotech. But at the nation’s pharmaceutical labs, where new drugs are being developed and tested, biotech is an indispensable part of the equation.
To illustrate the point, here is a small sampling of some of the biotech jobs available in pharmacy:
Biotech, a.k.a. biotechnology, is defined by the Miriam-Webster online dictionary as “the manipulation (as through genetic engineering) of living organisms or their components to produce useful usually commercial products (such as pest resistant crops, new bacterial strains, or novel pharmaceuticals).”
With this definition in mind, the first sample job on the list is that of genomics technician. The primary task in this particular job is to compare genomic sequences for the purposes of understanding study results, developing new products, and even creating patient profiles. Genomics technicians work with human DNA and RNA. They use highly sophisticated tools that often require extensive training above and beyond the technician’s normal college program.
Clinical Research Associate
New drugs have to go through a series of clinical trials before they gain FDA approval. That being the case, pharmaceutical companies employ clinical research associates to conduct the necessary studies. Although this position generally doesn’t involve direct manipulation of living organisms or components, it does involve analyzing the results of such manipulation.
Clinical research associates typically collect and analyze data. They may interact with trial participants to try to better understand how they are reacting to medications. Clinical research associates essentially act as the pharmaceutical company’s ears and eyes in the testing environment.
Pharmaceutical companies maintain labs where they develop and test new drugs. Lab technicians are employed to assist in everything from lab experiments to actual drug testing. In some pharmaceutical companies, the position is a stepping stone to greater things. A lab tech who demonstrates high levels of skill and talent can go on to big things.
A laboratory assistant also works in the pharmaceutical lab, handling tasks like equipment prep and post-experiment cleanup. This particular position is one of only a few entry-level biotech jobs candidates could get with little more than a high school diploma. But like the lab tech position, lab assistants can start on the ground floor and work their way up. Holding a lab assistant job while going to school for biotechnology is one way to use the position to launch a biotech career.
Employment Requirements Vary
Just in these four different biotech jobs, you find different requirements for employment. Throughout the entire biotech field, some jobs require advanced college degrees with specialized training. Others only require a bachelor’s degree and certificate. Still other biotech jobs are entry-level positions.
Biotech is a fascinating field with industrial, medical, and other applications. If you are looking to get into an emerging science with almost unlimited possibilities, you could do a lot worse than biotech. The biotech field offers what many people want in a career: stability, good pay and benefits, career advancement opportunities, and the ability to make a difference.