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Biotechnologist

Biotechnologists apply their knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology, and molecular genetics to improve industrial processes. They develop new processes in the agricultural, chemical, environmental, and health care product industries. For example, they could work in the production of drugs, such as antibiotics or vaccines, or in monitoring biological factors in the environment.

  • 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 31, 2020

A number of specialties are developing in the field of biotechnology. They include:

  • Biochemical engineering - developing scale-up processes, such as fermentation, to produce larger quantities of a substance at one time
  • Biochemical production - producing chemicals, hormones, and other substances in high volumes
  • Down-stream processing - separating and purifying chemicals and biological products produced by organisms
  • Environmental biotechnology - assessing and monitoring biological activity and factors in the environment including wetland monitoring, wildlife monitoring, and support for remediation and reclamation activities
  • Forensic sciences - using deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) for identification purposes, such as in criminal cases, paternity suits, or mass disasters
  • Genetic engineering - transferring genes from one species to another, in particular applying recombinant DNA to produce new substances, or to improve genetic properties in plants and animals
  • Human cell culture - producing antibodies and other useful biological substances
  • Industrial microbiology - selecting and improving genetic traits in the production of chemical products
  • Nanotechnology - manipulating atoms and molecules at a molecular level, such as using molecular machines or cell enzymes to synthesize new drugs on computer-like chips
  • Plant cell culture - modifying plant cells, in particular the ways they produce hormones or chemicals, to improve plants (includes plant genetic engineering)

Biotechnologists have made many important discoveries. These have led to innovations in food sources, pesticide use, livestock, and human health.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Biotechnologists work in offices and laboratories. They may work evenings and weekends to complete experiments and other types of research. To prevent injury in the presence of hazardous materials, they must know and apply safety precautions.

Biotechnologists can also work in the field. Work may be subject to seasonal conditions.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Biotechnologists need:

  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Persistence
  • A willingness to work long hours

They should enjoy synthesizing information, finding innovative solutions to problems, and working with equipment and instruments at precision tasks. They also should enjoy coordinating and supervising the work of others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020

Biotechnology employs knowledge from many disciplines. Therefore, several education routes can lead to employment. Most biotechnologists start with a bachelor of science (B.Sc.) in biology or environmental sciences. They often major in genetics, microbiology, or biochemistry. Students should consult faculty advisors to map out course selections with care.

An understanding of economics and marketing is an asset for some biotechnologists. In industry, for example, companies want biotechnologists who can conduct research with practical (profitable) applications.

Being familiar with statistics and computer programming is a definite asset in biotechnology. Biotechnologists with the skill to use tools such as microarrays on large data sets will have better prospects in certain areas. For example, knowledge and skills in genome sequencing and analysis is useful in bioinformatics (using computer science to study biology), genomics (study of genomes), and proteomics (study of proteins). Academia, industry, and government all use these tools often. Hence, this skill set can improve job prospects.

Biotechnologists must keep up with new developments and discoveries. A master’s or doctoral degree is essential to work in a high-level technical position. A PhD will usually be expected of a biotechnologist who wants to lead research projects or teach at the post-secondary level.


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 Mar 31, 2020

Biotechnologists working in certain areas may need to register with a regulatory body. Or they may simply find it helpful to join a professional association.

Agrologist

Agrologists provide advice and services related to agricultural and environmental science and technology. They apply scientific principles and practices to the cultivation, production, utilization and improvement of plants and animals, and the management of associated resources.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Agrology Profession Act and Agrology Profession Regulation, registration with the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (AIA) is mandatory if you meet identified educational and competency requirements and provide professional services directly to the public or supervise registered members who provide services to the public. Only registered members may call themselves a Professional Agrologist or Agrologist in Training.

What You Need

Membership as a Professional Agrologist requires a recognized 4-year bachelor's degree in agriculture or environmental science, plus the course credits required by AIA Council and completion of the Agrologist in Training program. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit the AIA website or contact the AIA.

Working in Alberta

Agrologists who are registered and in good standing with an Agrologist Institute elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory authority (below).

To learn about certification for internationally educated agrologists, see Agrologist Registration Process.

Contact Details

Alberta Institute of Agrologists
Suite 1430, 5555 Calgary Trail, NW 
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T6H 5P9
Phone number: 780-435-0606
Fax number: 780-435-2155
Email: info@aia.ab.ca
Website: www.albertaagrologists.ca

Biologist

Biologists study living organisms and apply their scientific knowledge in various fields.

Legislation

Professional Biologist is a protected title under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf]. This means that to call yourself a Professional Biologist, you must be a registered member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB). At present, you can call yourself a "biologist" if you are not a registered member of ASPB.

What You Need

Membership requires:

  • At least 3 years of acceptable work experience
  • A bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or doctoral degree in biological sciences from an approved educational institute, or equivalent
  • 3 letters from professional referees (preferably, at least 1 from a Professional Biologist)

For official, detailed information about registration requirements, visit ASPB.

Working in Alberta

Biologists who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if registered biologists in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and ASPB.

To learn about certification for internationally educated biologists, see Biologist Registration Process.

Contact Details

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists
370, 105 12 Ave SE
Calgary, Alberta T2G 1A1
Canada

Call: 403-264-1273
Email: info@aspb.ab.ca
Website: aspb.ab.ca

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2020

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 are often hired to work on projects. This is usually based on their training and post-doctoral work. Those with training in economics and management are 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 [pdf] in this occupation is 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 (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • 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 31, 2020
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 31, 2020

Alberta Institute of Agrologists website: www.albertaagrologists.ca

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

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2020. 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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