Careers

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  • What is Biotechnology?
  • What does a biotechnician do?
  • Salary and employment outlook
  • Desirable traits for biotechnician
  • Further career information sources
  • Biotechnology career opportunities in Oklahoma

What is Biotechnology?

Biotechnology is defined as the use of living organisms or their processes or output to make a product or solve a problem.

Familiar "old" biotechnology products include cheese, yogurt, beer, and wine.

Current biotechnology takes place in medical, agricultural, environmental, and manufacturing settings. We have biotechnology-produced medicine to treat cystic fibrosis, and gene therapy to treat some hereditary diseases. In agriculture, farmers are using new crop breeds bioengineered for increased resistance to pests or plant viruses. In food manufacturing, enzymes are used to coagulate milk in the manufacture of cheese. Environmental biotechnology makes use of microorganisms to degrade environmental contaminants, a process called bioremediation.

What does a Biotechnician do?

A biotechnician can be described as a person who sets up and operates laboratory instruments and experiments, gathers and records data, calculates results, assists in the manufacture of products, or assists in research, all under the supervision of a scientist.

A sample of possible job titles for a biotechnician with an associate degree:

Dairy Technologist Seed Analyst
Vector Control Analyst Biological Aide
Laboratory Assistant Biology Specimen Technician
Media Preparation Technician Greenhouse Assistant
Animal Technician Validation Technician
Manufacturing Technician Documentation Coordinator
Customer Service Representative Packaging Operator
Clinical Data Operator Instrumentation/calibration Technician

Salary and Employment Outlook for Biotechnicians

The average annual earnings of a science technician, as reported by the Economic Research Institute, was $34,500 for all workers in the field, and $43,000 for experienced workers. The average starting salary in 1997 was $25,000.

The U.S. Department of Labor stated that the mean annual salary for biological technicians in 2001 was $34,030.

According to the Oklahoma Employment Securities Commission and the 1996-1997 Occupational Outlook Handbook distributed by the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, employment of science technicians is expected to increased about 13% through 2004-2005. The outlook for biotechnicians could be even more favorable if the biotechnology industry continues its rapid growth.

Desirable Qualities for a Biotechnician

  • Computer skills
  • Good communication skills
  • Ability to work with others as part of a team
  • Interest in science and mathematics
  • Accuracy, conscientiousness, patience when working in the laboratory
  • Exercise of caution when working with hazardous materials

Further Resources to learn more about biotechnology careers

  • Visit the Oklahoma City Community College student development center and ask to use the "Discover" computer to learn more about opportunities, under the title of science technician.
  • Another great careers site: http://www.biotechcareercenter.com.
  • Visit also the Bio-Link web site for jobs: www.bio-link.org/
  • See also the job outlook in California at http://www.cccbiotech.org and click on biotech careers on left side menu.
  • The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a global organization, is found at: http://www.bio.org

On the local level, visit some sites in and around Oklahoma City that employ biotechnicians and see what jobs are currently available: