Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary branch of science with endless opportunities. This sounds cliché but is actually true. The prospects it opens ranges from catering to the Industrial sector including textile, food and beverage Industry, Medicines and pharmaceuticals and biological products to fulfilling the needs of agriculture, nutrition and environmental conservation. Pursuing a career in this field has its own merits and demerits. This is a growing and promising field demanding a large number of dynamic and intelligent students and provides them with huge research opportunities. The negative point in this is that there are fewer number of companies employing Biotechnology students and the seats for the course is limited.
The admission for the undergraduate course in Biotechnology requires qualifying 10+2 with a minimum of 55% marks and consequently cracking the entrance exam for the respective college that may be The Joint Entrance Exams for IITs (IITJEE), the All India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE) or exam of any particular university.
After this, one may choose to pursue the master’s level degree in the field which is 2-3 years long. The options are MSc., ME and MTech. A graduate in biology, botany, microbiology, pharmacy, biochemistry, chemistry, veterinary sciences or zoology is eligible for a post-graduate program in biotechnology. The master’s degree in Biotechnology makes the individual adept, in theory, research work and practical work through a specialized curriculum. Various specializations are available which radically change the scope of jobs. These include Bioethics, validation in Biotechnology and Project management in Biotechnology. The career options after Masters are immense but the best few may be summarised as under:
Biochemists who opt for M.sc. in Biochem, as the word suggests are involved in the developing and testing of drugs and researching the effects of nutrients and hormones on biological processes to develop processes and products for improving human health. This involves a study of the chemical properties and biological processes. The work mainly involves undertaking expensive and complex research projects. The average salary of a biochemist in India ranges greatly depending on the experience and expertise from about Rs. 4 lacs per annum to Rs. 15 lacs per annum at jobs available in both public and private sectors.
Biomedical engineers are those that have expertise in the field of engineering as well as biology and are thus, well equipped to design solution for biological problems. Many Biomedical engineers have contributed to the field by designing prostheses, diagnostic machines and artificial organs.
A medical scientist does a case study by way of clinical research to improve the health of patients by looking for prevention and cure of their diseases and also test and develop medical instruments.
Biomanufacturing is the large-scale production of proteins that are used to cure diseases. The specialists are responsible for guaranteeing that the products are manufactured safely and without prejudice to their potency, purity and quality.
Their study of the immune system is aimed at producing industrial and biomedical products for the diagnosis and treatment of infectious illnesses. Consequently, the job requires undertaking complex research projects and lab experiments. They have a very handsome remuneration at an average Rs. 12 lacs per annum.
Process development scientists
The work of such a scientist involves overseeing the manufacturing process in a lab and to make sure that quality and efficiency is maintained. They devise ways to scale production while adhering to standardised protocols, once the product has been developed and approved by the government.
Jobs for research assistants are available in both the public and private sectors. This involves working in the Research and development wing of a particular ministry or departments like Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology or other institutions like Indian Council of Agricultural Research, National Brain Research Centre (NBRC) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research among others.
Jobs in Industrial Sector
The industrial sector is growing and offers a huge amount of opportunities with handsome pay scales. They need manpower at various levels in the form of Production Managers, Quality control Managers, Technicians etc. but after doing M.sc. the job profiles improve. The positions available include that of a Senior Technical Assistant who is given the responsibility of performing experiments for a particular assignment. Product development Officer is the one who is responsible for development modification, design and enhancement of a product and only those who have completed Masters are eligible for the same. Other positions include that of a documentation officer, Bioinformatics Specialist, Regulatory Affairs specialist etc.
Jobs in Education
After completing masters, a person is qualified to work as a lecturer in colleges or universities. The post may also have some additional requirements like completing PhD, qualifying NET etc.
If one is not inclined towards the biotech research work, they may prefer to go for the management side of biotech. After going for an MBA, jobs in the field of Marketing and Human Resources may be available in pharma companies.
The options for a Biotechnician after Masters are immense and a person can choose to work in private clinics, hospitals and research centres or otherwise as Healthcare professionals. This generally requires specialization in biomedical engineering.
One can choose to go for a PhD in Biotechnology. This helps to make a work profile for jobs at colleges or universities as a professor or researcher. The essential requirements for admission include a CSIR/ UGC-NET score. An additional monthly stipend can be availed by UGC-JRF score.
There is a range of careers available after completing the masters in biotechnology. While there are many options, not all would fit your requirements in terms of expected remuneration, time commitment and interests. It is best to stay openminded and look at the huge number of potential roles that you can play ranging from working for a pharmaceutical giant or being involved in Research and development to starting up your own firm. There are many options and hence, many chances to find the right one for you.
You must also keep in mind your soft skills, your weaknesses and strengths as having scientific expertise is not the only factor for having a good career in this field. Also, while a person may have a broad idea of whether they want to go into education, research or Industry, it is not easy to decide your life path for once and for always. Thus, it is important to note that career opportunities are not hard and fast and a lot of people have reportedly switched their jobs after working for more than 5 years. This flexibility ensures that the freedom to try everything and see what is best for you!