Biotechnology is an emerging segment of the employment market projected to expand by 4%–8% nationwide by 2024. Certain parts of the US have registered much higher growth, making the biotech career path more popular in select areas of the country. Massachusetts, for instance, reported a 35% increase in biopharmaceutical job listings in 2015 with more than 4,000 positions forecast to be created by 2018. Similarly, states such as Maryland, Washington, California, New Jersey, and North Carolina have high concentrations of life science jobs and biotech positions.
The majority of growth in biotech opportunities is driven by the need for advancements in healthcare; however, biotechnology also has applications for agriculture (enhanced pest control, plant/animal disease control, food production), industry (oil/mineral recovery, environmental protection, waste reduction, improved detergents/chemicals, stronger textiles), and academic research (understanding the human genome, disease detection).
Where your biotech career path takes you will largely depend on your educational background and professional interests, but overall the future looks bright for biotechnology.
When most people consider biotech opportunities, they often think of healthcare and biopharmaceutical applications first. A large percentage of biotechnology careers can be classified in these two categories and it’s easy to understand why so many life science jobs fall under this umbrella: there is a great need for advanced drugs, vaccines, gene therapy options, tissue replacements, and other treatment techniques, and the aging US population has created further potential for biopharmaceutical and biotechnology career growth. Furthermore, recent breakthroughs in gene editing have opened up new frontiers for biotech and healthcare. Expiring patents have also accelerated the need for many pharmaceutical companies to invest in R&D and bring the next money-making medication to market.
Agricultural biotechnology was born out of a number of scientific advancements made throughout the twentieth century. The use of genetic engineering to transfer beneficial traits from one organism to another, molecular diagnostics to more accurately determine plant and animal diseases, and tissue culture for the reproduction of disease-free plant material for crops are but a few examples of such advances. As the world’s population continues to grow and arable land shrinks, the ability to maximize yields and get the most out of livestock will become more imperative, making biotech and agriculture an increasingly critical area for a biotechnology career specialization.
Industrial biotechnology has the potential for major implications far beyond simply optimizing manufacturing processes. From pollution prevention to resource conservation, new product development, and cost reduction, the combination of biotech and industry is a budding partnership that will change the way many businesses operate. Some experts speculate that the pairing of biotech and industry may have a greater impact on the world than advances made in the healthcare and agricultural realms. Opportunities abound in this arena, from direct research roles to support personnel, regulatory specialists, and legal staff needed to protect intellectual property.
Many of the healthcare, biopharmaceutical, agricultural, and industrial breakthroughs stem from research done at institutions across the US and around the world. In fact, biotech and academia are so closely linked that the CEOs and founders of many biotech startups are former professors who took their research from on-campus laboratories to commercialization. If you’re interested in working at the forefront of innovation and making discoveries that could lead to the next wave of biotech opportunities, academia might be the best biotech career path for you.
Prospects for life science jobs are encouraging. No matter where you choose to take your biotechnology career—whether it’s biotech and healthcare, biotech and agriculture, biotech and industry, or biotech and academia—there are many opportunities to investigate, invent, and improve products/processes that solve critical problems and help move the human race into the future.
Interested in a biotechnology career? Search for jobs on iHireBiotechnology! You’ll find openings in biotech hotbeds such as Massachusetts, Maryland, Washington, California, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
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