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A biotechnologist uses biological organisms to create and improve products and processes. They work in areas as diverse as food and agriculture, environmental conservation and medicine.

Biotechnologists seek to understand and manipulate the basic building blocks of living things, and they use the techniques of molecular biology to do so. They study the genetic, chemical and physical attributes of cells, tissues and organisms, and identify practical uses for this knowledge.

Among other things, a biotechnologist in the area of food and agriculture might produce enzymes and preservatives for use in food and drink products, or they might genetically modify crops to increase yields. An environmental biotechnologist might convert plants into biofuels or create plant-based bioplastics, and a medical biotechnologist will research and produce new pharmaceutical drugs and medical treatments.

The job of a biotechnologist involves:

  • designing and implementing research studies

  • developing new research procedures

  • working with lab technicians on research

  • setting up the laboratory equipment to conduct and monitor experiments

  • collecting, studying and testing samples such as food, cells, tissues, blood samples, bacteria cultures and living organisms

  • recording findings and analysing the results

  • identifying how the research can be applied to improving human life


Qualifications and training required


You will need a degree if you want to become a biotechnologist. This will need to be in a relevant scientific subject such as biotechnology, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, microbiology, environmental biology or chemical engineering. A postgraduate qualification such as a masters or PhD may well be required.


Key skills for biotechnologists


  • Complex problem solving

  • Team work and communication skills

  • An investigative mind

  • Attention to detail

  • Innovative thinking

  • Analytical skills


Typical employers of biotechnologists


  • Pharmaceutical and chemical companies

  • Biotechnology and genetic engineering companies

  • Universities

  • Hospitals

  • Research institutions

  • Agricultural and crop production companies

  • Food and drink manufacturers


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Who employs Biotechnologists?

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