How to become a Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists study plants, animals and microorganisms. They use this knowledge to develop uses for biological processes, which include creating products for pharmaceutical, agricultural, diagnostic and environmental use, and advancing industrial processes. Their work may incorporate the use of small molecule technologies, nanotechnology, bioinformatics and synthetic biology.

Personal requirements for a Biotechnologist

  • Enthusiasm and aptitude for science and research
  • Able to think logically and analytically
  • Able to carry out detailed and accurate work
  • Good communication skills
  • Able to solve problems and think creatively
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Able to grasp the ethics of scientific research involving humans

Education & Training for a Biotechnologist

To become a biotechnologist you usually have to complete a degree in biotechnology or a degree in science with a major in one of the life sciences. You can also become a biotechnologist by completing a degree in chemical engineering with a major in any type of biological engineering. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics, chemistry, biology, earth and environmental science, and physics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Duties & Tasks of a Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists:

  • Study the genetic, chemical, physical and structural composition of cells, tissues and organisms
  • Identify ways in which organisms and biological processes can be used to create new medicines, vaccines, foods, fuels and pharmaceutical products
  • Develop diagnostic tools to rapidly detect diseases
  • Use bacteria, enzymes and other organisms for a range of industrial uses, including agricultural production, food production and waste removal
  • Crossbreed animals and plants to encourage beneficial characteristics such as disease resistance, improved nutrition and accelerated environmental adaptation
  • Conduct research and experiments in the fields of genetic modification and biomolecular engineering, which involves altering the genetic make-up of plants and animals
  • Conduct human stem cell research with the aim of treating or preventing illnesses
  • Use biological engineering processes to create biological products for commercial use, such as biomaterials, chemicals or fuels.

Tasks

  • Examines micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and their enzymes, and uses the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes..
  • Investigates the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms..
  • Studies the forms and structures of bodily organs and tissues by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination..

Employment Opportunities for a Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists are employed in federal, state, territory and local government organisations, including research organisations. They are also employed in private industry, hospitals, educational institutions, primary production and fisheries. Entry to some jobs is highly competitive. With appropriate qualifications and experience, biotechnologists may progress to running their own laboratory or move into a career in government relations, regulation, quality assurance or allied business services such as clinical trial development. Senior positions in the industry often require an honours, masters or doctoral degree, demonstrating a high level of competence in the laboratory.


Specializations

Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists study plants, animals and microorganisms. They use this knowledge to develop uses for biological processes, which include creating products for pharmaceutical, agricultural, diagnostic and environmental use, and advancing industrial processes. Their work may incorporate the use of small molecule technologies, nanotechnology, bioinformatics and synthetic biology.

  • Average age
    Average age
    37 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Moderate
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    52% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,794
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    77% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    610 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 4.5%
    NSW: 19.9%
    NT: 0.0%
    QLD: 25.1%
    SA: 7.4%
    TAS: 1.1%
    VIC: 33.3%
    WA: 8.6%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0%
    20-24: 5.5%
    25-34: 34.1%
    35-44: 31.6%
    45-54: 19%
    55-59: 6.2%
    60-64: 2%
    65 and Over: 1.7%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 2.1%
    Bachelor degree: 29.9%
    Certificate III/IV: 0.5%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 66.3%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 1.2%
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