Masters in Biotechnology Information Guide
MastersInBiotechnology has several tips and guides on biotechnology degrees. Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry. Many commercial products depend on biotechnology for development. There are four major groups that implement biotechnology. Those groups are agriculture, the healthcare industry, non-food products and environmental development.
Because biotechnology is used in the development of products in all of these areas, there is ample job growth opportunity for those with a Master of Biotechnology. The industry is slated to grow by 20% in the coming decade and will most likely continue to grow after that.
What is Biotechnology?
Biotechnology, also commonly known as biotech, is a fascinating field that studies living organisms and their relation to technology, engineering, medicine and many other areas that call for bioproducts. Genetic engineering and tissue and cell technology also fall under the umbrella of biotechnology.
There are different areas of biotechnology you can focus on. A Master of Biotechnology can be sought by students straight out of undergrad school, as well as working professionals looking to advance their careers through a master’s degree. Biotechnology has many roles within a single industry and because it is a science, the more training you have, the higher of a position you’ll be qualified for. Rarely do people with only a bachelor’s degree get upper level jobs in the field of scientific research. A master’s degree or even a PhD is considered the entry level credential for most positions above lab technician. In a Master of Biotechnology program you will learn how to develop products using chemical and biological processes. You’ll see a product from the brainstorming steps all the way through a prototype or sample, in some cases. There is a lot of time spent in labs and you will gain a further understanding of how biotech works in the medical and agriculture fields. The majority of Master of Biotechnology programs require 30-36 hours, with additional supplemental hours spent conducting lab work. You will also be required to write a thesis and usually choose the subject with the aid of a curriculum advisor.
What type of job can I have with a Master of Biotechnology?
Many already work in the biotech field when studying for a Master of Biotechnology. It is common for biology students to work as lab technicians or professors’ assistants while earning their master’s degrees and PhDs, and this can be a good way to earn money or scholarships towards more advanced degrees. A Master of Biotechnology qualifies you for upper level positions in which you can design and direct research pertaining to your own interests or work as a consultant for a company regarding biotech.
- Health care: Biotechnology is a crucial part of healthcare. Developing new medicines and treatments for disease, and learning to understand how diseases work, is all done using biotechnology. If you love to work on a team, working on product development for a new medicine or medical instrument may be a good fit for you. If you enjoy working on your own and the autonomy of being in a lab, there are always positions open for labs researching everything from new medicines to vaccines and biodefense. Even drugs that have been in use for decades are often researched and improved. If you have a Master of Biotechnology and work in the health care industry, you will most likely always have job opportunities. There is also room for you to move around, so if one job is not good for you, you will have options on how to utilize your degree and experience while improving your work environment.
- Environmental Research: Environmental companies are constantly researching new ways to make products work more efficiently. Sustainable practices are where it’s at for companies of every size, and consultants are hired to show how biotech methods can improve a company’s bottom line and impact on the planet. You may work developing new biofuels that are safer for the environment or adapting biotechnology to climate change. We’re also expected to see growth for bio-based materials and renewable resources. The pursuit of efficient production processes that need less input and result in better output is one of the most urgent purposes of biotechnology. Our interactions with the natural environment are completely suffused with biotechnology now. There are experiments underway to use biological components to generate electricity, clean up oil spills, and even store data on computer chips.
- Genetics: Genetic research has exploded in the past decade, and more and more scientists are looking to genes to understand and possibly solve many of humanity’s problems. Much of the food we eat, from corn and soy to beef and pork, has been genetically modified in some way. Some scientists believe that the answer to seemingly incurable diseases like cancer and AIDS lies in genetic research, not in the blunt instruments of radiation and surgery that we use today. The speed of advancement in genetic research is increasing, too. The entire human genome was mapped years ago, and genetic testing for all kinds of purposes is dropping in price to the point where any person can have their genes sequenced for around $100. Working in genetic research takes a great deal of effort, as a master’s degree, PhD, and even post-doctorate research cannot guarantee you a spot in the relatively small club of the world’s gene experts, but if what you want to do is learn about genes and be a part of the global genetic research machine, a Master of Biotechnology is a good start.
Courses You’ll Take in a Master of Biotechnology Program
People who go into scientific careers start out with broad education in biology, chemistry, or physics, and then specialize more as they get deeper into their education. Earning a Master of Biotechnology means that you’ll have to choose a specialty within biotech, and research that for your master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. These topics must be extremely specific. Examples might include “the effects of atrazine on amphibian reproductive systems,” which is a topic that has been intermittently in the news over the past several years. The ability to be passionate about an extremely specific topic is crucial for anyone who wants to enter the field of biotechnology. While you’re doing your master’s thesis, you’ll still have to take core courses, some of which might include:
- Molecular Biology: This course is a prerequisite for almost any career in the medical field, and you’ll probably need several semesters of it if you plan to work in biotechnology. The concepts of biological function at the molecular and cellular levels are the cornerstone of many biotechnological advancements.
- Immunology: The immune system is the object of intense scrutiny, especially by researchers who are looking into HIV, AIDS, and other autoimmune disorders. Learning the technical aspects of the immune disorder and how it is affected by genetic makeup and outside factors is a part of any good science education.
- Fermentation: Humans use fermentation for all kinds of purposes, and the process involves managing a biochemical process to achieve our own ends. All fermentation processes, from the manufacture of beer and wine to the production of ethanol, can be considered dependent on biotechnological knowledge. Using biological processes to produce new substances, or even harvestable energy, is not a new concept, but there is a lot of room for advancement in the field.
- Molecular Genetics: Studying genes on the molecular level allows us to understand how genetic information is stored and transmitted in much larger organisms as well, and everything from metabolism to evolution can be studied through the lens of molecular genetics.
Biotechnology is a Competitive Field with Many Perks
A successful career in biotechnology requires a great deal of commitment, because the number of years you’ll have to spend in school and the cost of that education. However, biotechnology is a field with many opportunities for breakthroughs and advances that can improve the lives of millions. The earning potential is good. The median annual salary for biochemists and biophysicists was $82,840 as of May, 2008, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. The combination of opportunities to help people, attain highly visible and respectable achievements, and earn good money, are strong motivators for those who pursue biotechnology careers all the way to the top.
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