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Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists apply their knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology and molecular genetics to improve industrial processes and develop new processes in the agricultural, chemical and health care product industries (for example, in the production of drugs, antibiotics or vaccines).

  • Avg. Salary $92,613.00
  • Avg. Wage $48.26
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 2,700
  • In Demand High
Also Known As

Biochemical Engineer, Biological Scientist, Cell Culturist, Down-Stream Processing Engineer, Genetic Engineer, Research Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists (2121.2) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Biologists and Related Scientists (C021) 
  • 2011 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
  • 2016 NOC: Biologists and related scientists (2121) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Interest Codes
The Biotechnologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists
INNOVATIVE

Interest in synthesizing information to study the effects and control of human, plant and animal pathogens and toxins

OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working with instruments to conduct clinical and laboratory studies to test, evaluate and screen drugs and pharmaceuticals, and to conduct molecular and biochemical studies and experiments into genetic expression, gene manipulation and recombinant DNA technology

DIRECTIVE

Interest in consulting to advise on issues related to the development of new practices and products at the cellular and molecular level; may supervise biological technologists and technicians and other scientists

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Mar 18, 2016

There are a number of developing specialties in the field of biotechnology, such as:

  • biochemical engineering - the development of scale-up processes (for example, for fermentation) to produce larger quantities of a substance at one time
  • biochemical production - the production of chemicals, hormones and other substances in high volumes
  • down-stream processing - the separation and purification of chemicals and biological products produced by organisms
  • forensic sciences - the use of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) for identification purposes (for example, in criminal cases, paternity suits, mass disasters)
  • genetic engineering - the transfer of genes from one species to another (in particular, the application of recombinant DNA in producing new substances) or the improvement of genetic properties of plants and animals
  • human cell culture - the production of antibodies and other useful biological substances
  • industrial microbiology - the selection and improvement of genetic characteristics for the production of chemical products
  • nanotechnology - the manipulation of atoms and molecules at a molecular level (for example, the use of molecular machines and enzymes from a cell to help synthesize new drugs on computer-like chips)
  • plant cell culture - the production of hormones or chemicals by plant cells and the modification of plant cells to improve plants (including plant genetic engineering).

Biotechnologists have made many discoveries that have led to new food sources, improved human health, new pesticides and farm animals that grow twice as big, twice as fast.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Biotechnologists work in offices and laboratories, and often work evenings and weekends to complete laboratory experiments and other types of research. They must observe safety precautions to prevent injury when working with hazardous laboratory materials.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Biotechnologists need the following characteristics:

  • curiosity and imagination
  • persistence and a willingness to work long hours
  • a willingness to do the reading required to keep up with new developments and discoveries.

They should enjoy synthesizing information and finding innovative solutions to problems, working with equipment and instruments at tasks that require precision and co-ordinating and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 18, 2016

More than one education route can lead to becoming a biotechnologist because biotechnology involves the use of principles from many disciplines. Most biotechnologists begin their studies by taking a bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree program in genetics, microbiology or biochemistry. Students should consult student advisors in their faculty to carefully map out appropriate course selections. An understanding of economics and marketing is an asset for biotechnologists planning to work in industrial settings where they will be required to identify practical applications of their research.

Increasing access to large data sets obtained by genome sequencing and analysis using tools such as microarrays is making familiarity with statistics and computer programming a significant asset. Individuals with these skills can more easily work in areas such as bioinformatics, genomics (study of genomes) and proteomics (study of proteins), all of which commonly are used in academics, industry and government.

A master's or doctoral degree is required to work in high level technical positions. To lead research projects or teach at the post-secondary level, a PhD usually is required.

Biotechnologists working in certain areas may find it advantageous to join the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists. Similarly, biotechnologists working in the area of agronomy may be required to join the Alberta Institute of Agrologists and may be subject to Agrology Profession Regulations.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Aug 28, 2019

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Biotechnologists work for the following types of organizations:

  • government and university research laboratories
  • biotechnology company research and development laboratories
  • pharmaceutical companies
  • agricultural support services and product manufacturers
  • food processors
  • hospitals
  • law enforcement forensic laboratories.

Biotechnologists usually are hired for particular projects based on their training and post-doctoral work. Those who have training in economics and management are well prepared for leadership roles in large laboratories and other organizations.

Biotechnologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 2121: Biologists and Related Scientists. In Alberta, 80% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

In Canada, the highest employment growth is in agricultural biotechnology.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 18, 2016
Biologists and related scientists

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $23.08 $53.84 $35.12 $32.21
Overall $32.45 $67.40 $48.26 $50.11
Top $36.06 $110.04 $65.88 $62.26

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Public Administration
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

49%
49%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

11%
11%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

14%
14%

Vacancy Rate

N/A
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Agriculture and Related Technologies
  • Engineering and Science Technologies
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 18, 2016

Alberta Institute of Agrologists website: www.albertaagrologists.ca

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists website: www.aspb.ab.ca

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Mar 16, 2016. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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