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Biotechnology is a broad sector. Although it is commonly associated with researching and developing products for healthcare, there are subsections that offer opportunities. “What’s great about the biotechnology industry is that it’s an application of a lot of different types of sciences, but there is also a high need for people in IT, computer science, and data management,” says Janelle Curtis, vice president of programs for the Biotechnology Institute (www.biotech institute.org) in Arlington, Virginia, which offers a minority fellows program. For people without a science background, there are positions in public relations, marketing, technical writing, and law.
“We’re also seeing an expansion in industrial biotechnology, environmental biotechnology, medical biotechnology, and agriculture,” Curtis notes. “As we go into clean technology and looking at how to keep the earth clean, biotechnology is going to play a larger part in helping to solve those types of problems.”
More specific areas in which to focus your job search in biotechnology include research and development, regulatory affairs, safety, stem cells, and genetics. In pharmaceuticals, hot areas include research and engineering, particularly in chemical, mechanical and process, and product support.
Here is a breakdown of jobs:
Design and conduct experiments,
write up results for publication.
Salary range: $65,000 to $110,000
Clinical Research Physicians:
Develop and implement plans for pushing
experimental drugs through preapproval clinical trials.
Salary range: $90,000 to $200,000.
Conduct experiments under the direction of Ph.D. scientists.
Salary range: $40,000 to $71,000
Regulatory Affairs Associates/Managers:
Complete paperwork required by regulatory agencies
and communicate directly with the agencies to resolve issues.
Salary range: $42,000 to $88,000
Coordinate and implement campaigns
for specific drugs, audiences, or both.
Salary range: $46,000 to $75,000
Manage databases of medical histories and
records of responses to drugs and placebos tested.
Salary range: $56,000 to $74,000
Work with physicians, hospitals, HMOs, and other medical institutions to keep
healthcare professionals abreast of the company’s line of products.
Salary: $68,600, plus incentives
Research beyond a particular position to learn how a company might be developing or repositioning itself. Also, research domestic and international industry trends. Network through biotechnology state associations or local pharmaceutical societies, and attend related conferences to develop relationships with industry insiders. If you have a nonscientific background, BioTech Primer Inc. (www.biotechprimerinc.com) provides education and training for nonscience professionals. Consider an internship opportunity.
Tufts Center for the
Study of Drug Development
(http://csdd.tufts.edu) is an independent, nonprofit research group at Tufts University in Boston. It monitors and reports the development, regulation, and utilization of new drugs and biopharmaceuticals for drug developers, regulators, and policy makers.
LifeSciencesWorld.com is a resource for the biotech, pharmaceuticals, and life sciences industries.
The Pharmaceutical Research
and Manufacturers of America
(www.phrma.org) advocates public policies that encourage the discovery of new medicines for patients by pharmaceutical/biotechnology research companies.
Biotechnology Industry Organization (www.bio.org) provides advocacy, business development, and communication services for members.
National Association for Blacks in Bio (www.nab-bio.org) is a nonprofit organization that unites minority bioscience professionals to promote networking, collaboration, education, and career development.
Biospace.com provides biotech and pharmaceutical news and lists jobs.
FiercePharma.com offers pharmaceutical industry news.
Education & Training
Needs vary based on the position, but the most basic requirement is an undergraduate degree in a science field, such as biology or chemistry. As you advance or seek a role higher than entry level, a master’s will be beneficial. A Ph.D. is necessary to head a research and development department. Pursuing a post-doctorate fellowship can also give you a leg up as a candidate. A degree in a nonscientific area, such as computer science, engineering, or business will not exclude you as a candidate. You may, however, need additional training or certification.