Potential Careers

Technological advances in biology hold the promise of helping to solve many of the global problems we face. Students who graduate with a WPI degree in biology and biotechnology are well positioned to address these problems through diverse career opportunities in the biotech industry/private sector, academia, and government, as well as other venues. 

Here's a look at some of the required skills for overall career success in the life sciences:

  • Mastery of advanced-level applied research skills
  • Ability to understand, apply, and analyze a broad range of biological concepts
  • Ability to place work in broader scientific context
  • Ability to analyze original scientific literature
  • Ability to function effectively in a team setting
  • Adherence to accepted standard professional and ethical behavior
  • Strong communication skills
  • Skills for lifelong learning

If this sounds like you, here are some key points to know about careers in this field:

  • Employment of biological scientists is projected to grow 21 percent over the 2008-18 decade--much faster than the average for all occupations, as biotechnological research and development continues to drive job growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • Biologists have been ranked in the top 10 out of 200 careers the last three years by Jobs Rated.

So what kinds of jobs can you expect to find in the biotech industry/private sector, academia, and government, as well as in other venues? We've broken it down for you.

Biotech Industry/Private Sector

Biotech, pharmaceutical, contract research organizations, and chemical companies are the major employers in this sector. Overarching job functions include applied research, product development (diagnostics, therapeutics, or research products), clinical trials, marketing, and sales.

Academia

The major employers here are university and medical centers and research institutes. Overarching job functions include teaching, basic research, and grant funding.

Potential job titles include the following (descriptions taken from the BLS):

  • Education professionals include high school, college, and university faculty, as well as postsecondary career and technical education teachers.
  • Research technicians assist scientists in their research and typically specialize in an area of research. They run experiments, record results, interpret collected data, and may set up and maintain lab equipment.

Government

The major employer here is the federal government and its agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Job opportunities fall in such areas as public health and policy, as well as basic and applied research.

Potential job titles include the following (descriptions taken from the BLS):

  • Epidemiologists investigate and describe the causes and spread of disease, and develop the means for prevention or control.
  • Research scientists, also called principal investigators, run research labs within the government and specialize in an area of research of interest to the government.

Additional Careers

Potential employers here include private-sector companies, health care organizations, news media, and scientific publishing. These jobs include those in medicine, law (around biotech patents), business (concerning biotech management), and science writing, among others.

 
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