Biotechnology is the study of how living organisms relate to the environment. Specifically, biotechnology studies how living organisms can be used to benefit human needs. Biotechnology is used to make advances in medical treatments, biofuels and household products. To work in the field of biotechnology, you need a strong educational background in science, math and computer science. You can work in this field with a bachelor's degree, but to do independent research and publish research papers, you will need advanced educational degrees.
Planning for a career in biotechnology begins with your undergraduate studies. During your undergraduate career, focus on classes in biology, chemistry, physics, computer science and engineering. Environmental science courses are also beneficial if you want to work on agricultural issues such as the development of new biofuels. Classes in research paper writing are important to prepare you for publishing later in your career. With an undergraduate degree, you can work in a research lab, but you will not be able to conduct your independent research or publish papers under your own name.
When you enter a graduate program for biotechnology, you will likely focus your studies on a specific subfield such as microbiology or organic chemistry. Your graduate studies will also be more heavily focused on lab work and fieldwork, which give you hands-on experience in conducting research. You will work under the supervision of a faculty member who specializes in your field of research interest. You will have to complete a thesis or dissertation to receive a graduate degree.
To conduct independent research and publish your own research, you will need to obtain your doctorate degree. While working toward your doctorate, you will continue to spend most of your time in the lab conducting research alongside a faculty supervisor. This process can can take five to six years of full-time study, but will prepare you to teach at a university level and conduct and publish your research.
Other Skills and Classes
Classes in oral and written communication, scientific and government regulatory procedures and management practices are also beneficial for working in biotechnology. As you progress in your career, you will most likely be responsible for supervising students, lab technicians and other personnel. You might be required to give lectures or other public speaking presentations.
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