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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 $84,973.00
  • Avg. Wage $45.86
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook N/A
  • Employed 1,600
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

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

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Biotechnologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists
NOC code: 2121.2
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 Mar 18, 2016

Certified Engineering Technologist

Under the supervision of a professional engineer or professional technologist in engineering, certified engineering technologists undertake the routine application of industry recognized codes, standards, procedures and practices. They use established engineering, geoscience or applied science principles and methods of problem solving. Duties may include design, production, marketing, testing, quality control, estimating, surveying, inspecting, diagnostic evaluation, supervision, management and technical sales.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (PDF) and ASET Regulation (PDF), you must be a registered member of the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to use the title Certified Engineering Technologist (CET). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Certified Engineering Technologist.

What You Need

Registration requires:

  • successful completion of an applied science, engineering or information technology program accredited at the technologist level by the Canadian Technology Accreditation Board (CTAB), or equivalent
  • at least 2 years of acceptable technical experience
  • 3 professional references
  • completion of a competency report
  • successful completion of ASET's Professional Practice Exam
  • demonstration of proficiency in English.

For detailed official information, contact the regulatory organization below.

Working in Alberta

Engineering technologists who are certified by and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for certification in Alberta if certified engineering technologists in the 2 jurisdictions have similar responsibilities and competencies. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory organization above.

To learn about the certification process for internationally educated engineering technologists, see Mechanical Engineering Technologist Certification Process (PDF) and Electrical Engineering Technologist Certification Process (PDF) on AlbertaCanada.com.

Contact Details

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET)
1600 - 9888 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C6
Phone: 780-425-0626
Toll-free in Alberta: 1-800-272-5619
Fax: 780-424-5053
Email: asetadmin@aset.ab.ca
Website: www.aset.ab.ca

Professional Technologist (Engineering or Geoscience)

Professional Technologists (Engineering) and Professional Technologists (Geoscience) are currently unique to Alberta. They practise independently in accordance with established methodologies and specifications in the fields of engineering, geology and geophysics, and they have the authority to sign off and stamp work within a prescribed scope of practice.

Legislation

Under Alberta's Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act (PDF) and Professional Technologists Regulation (PDF), you must be registered as a Professional Technologist (Engineering or Geoscience) by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET) to practise engineering, geology or geophysics within a prescribed scope of practice, or to use the titles Professional Technologist (Engineering) or Professional Technologist (Geoscience) or the abbreviations P.Tech. (Eng.) or P.Tech. (Geo.).

What You Need

Registration requires:

  • designation as a Certified Engineering Technologist (CET) in good standing
  • at least 6 years of work experience in areas that relate to engineering or geoscience, with at least 2 years under the supervision and control of a Professional Engineer or Professional Geologist in the applicant's proposed area and scope of practice
  • at least 2 years of post-secondary education or 10 years of experience that matches the proposed scope of practice
  • 3 professional references
  • proof of compliance with ASET's Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program
  • proficiency in English
  • successful completion of the National Professional Practice Exam.

For detailed official information, contact the regulatory organization below.

Working in Alberta

Professional technologists are currently only recognized in Alberta. They may be eligible for a limited licence with engineering regulatory organizations in other jurisdictions. Information on obtaining a limited licence is available through the regulatory organizations.

A professional technologist may also transfer to another province and receive recognition as a Certified Engineering Technologist by completing a transfer form and paying the associated transfer fee. Transfer forms are provided by the provincial regulatory organizations for technologists. For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory? and the Alberta regulatory organization below.

Contact Details

The Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET)
1600 - 9888 Jasper Ave.
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 5C6
Phone: 780-425-0626
Toll-free in Alberta: 1-800-272-5619
Fax: 780-424-5053
Email: asetadmin@aset.ab.ca
Website: www.aset.ab.ca

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
NOC code: 2121

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 $19.50 $54.74 $33.14 $31.25
Overall $27.99 $68.42 $45.86 $43.04
Top $33.00 $106.05 $61.02 $56.29

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
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

43%
43%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

33%
33%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

16%
16%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
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, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works 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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