What Does A Biotechnology Engineer Do?

"I am interested in a career in the biotechnology industry but I have my hesitations because I’m not exactly sure what the job entails. What does a biotechnology engineer do?"

asked by Drew P. from Frederick, Maryland

Biotechnology is the field that seeks to improve the lives of people by tapping on cellular and biomolecular processes to come up with technologies and products that can fight against diseases, protect the environment and utilize cleaner energy. When utilized well, biotechnology can save the lives of millions of children, promote food sustainability and productivity and make the world a better place to live in.

The task of harnessing our own genetic toolkit to come up with these technologies falls in the shoulders of biotechnology engineers, who are popularly known as biotechnologists. They work in agriculture, healthcare, food manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries. Others may also teach in universities and colleges.

The main task of biotechnologists is to develop products from living microorganisms. The actual work of biotechnology professionals may vary depending on their area of specialization. They may become geneticists who focus their time and attention on studying the genes of living organisms to help in the development of medicines or improvement of agriculture.

Some may opt to become biomedical engineers who combine biology, medicine and engineering to develop devices that provide solutions to medical and healthcare problems. The work of biomedical engineers have paved the way for the development of artificial limbs and advanced monitors so useful for surgical operations.

In the field of agricultural research, biotechnology professionals may become plant breeders who work to cross-breed plants in order to come up with plants and seeds bearing superior traits. There are also those who become animal research associates. They work on animals in the laboratory to study the possibility of coming up with edible vaccines, diagnose disease and producing livestock that are highly-resistant to disease.

The work of biotechnology engineers may also vary depending on the length of time they have been in the profession. In entry-level positions, they can work as research technicians whose job entails preparing instruments and laboratory equipment for various experiments that need to be performed. Since they will be working under the supervision of a leading researcher, they may also be tasked with recording data and preparing reports.

Those biotechnology engineers who hold senior level positions perform more advanced tasks which include designing research studies, developing procedures and processes and evaluating and analyzing data. Using their vast knowledge and years of experience in the field, they choose the best way to accomplish a particular task.

For instance, if the biotechnologist is working with recombinant DNA technology, he needs to figure out the most efficient method of putting foreign DNA into the target subject to come up with another organism that has better traits.

Biotechnology engineers work in very exciting and emerging fields that allow them to make a difference in the world. As such it is a very fulfilling and meaningful career to pursue, particularly for those who genuinely love research and want to play a role in making the world a better and safer place for everyone.

Career Spotlight: Biotechnology Engineer

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