Biomedical and biotechnology opportunities run the gamut from patient centric medicine to engineering. Careers across the field provide professionals with the opportunity to do groundbreaking work in patient care, research, and education, to name just a few. Biomedical and biotechnical opportunities are found in hospitals (public and private), private and government laboratories, and manufacturing facilities. Biomedical and biotechnical scientists and engineers also benefit from the largest selection of subjects for their work: virtually any living organism.
There are several specializations possible within biomedical and biotechnical science. Within each lay still more narrow specializations each requiring additional education, certification and advanced degrees. Some examples of laboratory specialization include:
Medical Microbiology – The study of microorganisms as carriers of disease
Clinical Chemistry – A specialty that includes analysis of blood and other biomaterials
Haematology – The study of blood
Histology – The study of tissues and cells
Cytology – A subfield of histology, generally looking at cell structure and cell chemistry
Virology – The study of viruses
Immunology – The study of the immune system
This is the degree of choice of all entry level biomedical and biotechnology careers. Many graduates use this degree to begin their career while exploring different areas of specialization and continuing their education.
For instance, this is the most popular degree for individuals pursuing a career in nutrition as it provides a broad base onto which graduates may add requisite professional field training and licensing in order to become credentialed professionals.
This level of education opens the door to a far more diverse range of career opportunities, particularly in the area of biotechnology and engineering. Holders of this advanced degree are considered scientists rather than technicians. The appellation of scientist may also be earned by completing a Professional Science Master’s Degree (PSM), which was first awarded in the late 1990s.
Doctoral degrees are generally earned by students wishing to pursue either their own research or participate as part of a team that shares a single goal or vision for their collective research.
Ph.D.s who work in the industrial sector or as part of institutional research programs will typically fill management or senior positions and spend some portion of their time supervising the work of a team of engineers and technicians.
Overall, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) outlook over the next 8-10 years indicates stronger than average growth in biomedicine and biotechnology. In particular, biomedical engineers are expected to increase at a rate of 27%, far above average career growth over the same time. The BLS cites an aging population as the primary reason for the rapid expansion of opportunities in this field.
The BLS lists a bachelor’s degree as the entry level education required for this field, with the median income for biomedical engineers at $86,960 a year. Average salaries for biomedical engineers runs from as low as $63,440 for professional academics in the field and as high as $94,150 for individuals working in research and development.