Medical

Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists use plants, animals, microbes, biochemistry and genetics to develop new products and improve existing ones.

Annual Salary

£19,000 to £60,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40

3%
Future employment

There will be 3% more Biotechnologist jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll work in environmental, industrial or medical biotechnology.

In environmental biotechnology, your duties may include:

  • developing micro-organisms and plants to clean polluted land or water
  • creating alternative renewable sources of energy, like biodiesel
  • producing environmentally friendly raw materials for industry, like biodegradable plastics from plant starches

In industrial biotechnology, your duties may include:

  • cloning and producing enzymes for use in manufacturing food and drink
  • creating biological detergents and dyes for the textiles industry
  • improving animal feed
  • developing crops that are more resistant to pests
  • genetically modifying crops to increase productivity

In medical biotechnology and biotherapeutics, your duties may include:

  • studying human genetics, proteins, antibodies, viruses, plants, fungi and bacteria to research and treat diseases like cancer
  • developing therapies, vaccines and hormones to treat the cause of a disease 
  • producing medicines using techniques like cell culture and genetic modification

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

University

You'll usually need a degree in a relevant scientific subject, like:

  • biotechnology
  • bioscience
  • microbiology
  • biochemistry
  • chemistry or chemical engineering

Employers will expect you to have some knowledge of the biotechnology area you want to work in, for example the food and drinks industry.

You'll need a postgraduate qualification and several years' experience for a research job.Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 7 (A* to B), including English, maths, chemistry and biology
  • 2 or 3 A levels, including a biological science for a degree
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

Apprenticeship

You may be able to start by doing a laboratory scientist higher or degree apprenticeship.

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent qualifications, for a higher or a degree apprenticeship

Work

You could start as a lab technician and work your way up by training on the job. For example, on a part-time degree or a degree apprenticeship.

More information

You may find it useful to join an organisation like the Science Council for professional recognition, training opportunities and to make industry contacts.

You can find out more about working in biotechnology from:

£19,000 to £60,000

Starter salary: £19,000 to £24,000

Experienced salary: £30,000 to £50,000

These figures are a guide.

35 to 40

You’ll usually work 35 to 40 hours a week, including shifts, nights and weekends.

You’ll mainly work in a laboratory, often in sterile conditions. 



You’ll usually wear protective clothing like a lab coat and safety glasses.

With experience, you could move into scientific journalism, quality assurance management, sales or marketing.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work on your own
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • maths knowledge
  • the ability to work well with others
  • analytical thinking skills
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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