What does a biotechnologist do?

Biotechnologists create and improve products and processes for agriculture, medicine and conservation using biological organisms.

They study the genetic, chemical and physical attributes of cells, tissues and organisms, and identify industrial uses for them. The application of biotechnology is extremely widespread, and can include things like:

  • Developing new medicines and vaccinations
  • Cross-breeding plants and animals to enhance desired characteristics
  • Using bacteria in areas such as food production and waste treatment.
  • Some Biotechnologists may also work with cutting edge and potentially controversial technologies, such as genetic modification and stem cell research.

Why does a biotechnologist do this job?

Biotechnologists are at the forefront of the future of technology and this innovation is likely to be the way of the future. As a biotechnologist, you could provide the answers to diseases, climate change, fuel alternatives and food security. Biotechnology is leading the way in a new era of health care, improving our quality of life and developing methods for detecting, preventing and treating disease. Biotechnological techniques, such as DNA profiling, are also proving enormously useful in other areas of human life, such as forensic science and identification.

How does a biotechnologist do their job?

Biotechnologists use a range of standard and highly specialised laboratory equipment. The standard equipment includes microscopes, filters, pumps, evaporators and centrifuges. Many of their experiments are carried out with the aid of computerised machines, which are able to perform highly complex and specialised tests in a relatively short space of time. They often work with hazardous chemicals and biological matter, and experiments can be carried out in fume cupboards.

Where do biotechnologists work?

Biotechnologists work in laboratories and offices, usually located in universities, research institutes or processing plants.

Tertiary study

To become a biotechnologist, you could begin with a Bachelor of Science with a major in life sciences. There are plenty of choices, including:

You could then continue with postgraduate studies to become an expert in your field and gain more research and practical skills. Graduate study options could include:

Companies that employ biotechnologists

  • Cochlear
  • CSL
  • ResMed
  • Kazia Therapeutics
  • Peptech
  • Genetic Technologies
  • Eyepoint Pharmaceuticals
  • TGB Diagnostics
  • Starpharma
  • Cluvinel
  • Chemours