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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.

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) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Microbiologists and Cell and Molecular Biologists
2006 NOC : 2121.2

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests

Abilities

Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

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
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

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.

Traits & Skills
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
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

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.


To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2020
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Agrologist.

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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Biologist.

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

In Alberta, the 2121: Biologists and related scientists occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 2.1% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 58 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Note
NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Biologists and related scientists

2016 NOC : 2121
Average Wage
$48.26
Per Hour
Average Salary
$92,613.00
Per Year
Average Hours
37.1
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
12
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

Source
2019 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2121 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.


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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

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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