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Biotechnologists study plants, animals, microbes, biochemistry and genetics to develop new products and improve existing ones.

Annual Salary

£23,000 to £44,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Biotechnologist jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a biotechnologist, your day to day duties will depend on your specialism.

In environmental biotechnology, you could:

  • clean polluted land or water using micro-organisms and plants
  • develop alternative sources of energy, like biodiesel
  • make environmentally friendly raw materials, like biodegradable plastics

In industrial biotechnology, you could:

  • clone and create enzymes for use in manufacturing food and drink
  • improve animal feed
  • modify crops to increase productivity and resistance to pests

In medical biotechnology and biotherapeutics, you could:

  • study human genetics, antibodies, viruses, plants, fungi and bacteria
  • develop therapies and vaccines to tackle the causes of disease
  • produce medicines using techniques like cell culture and genetic modification

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

You could work at a research facility, at a university or in a laboratory.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role

You can do a degree qualification in a relevant scientific subject, like:

  • biotechnology
  • bioscience
  • microbiology
  • biochemistry
  • food science
  • chemistry or chemical engineering

As well as a degree, some employers may want you to have a postgraduate qualification, especially for research posts.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology or chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study
For more information

You may be able to get into this job by doing an apprenticeship, such as:

  • Technician Scientist Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship
  • Laboratory Science Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship

These apprenticeships take between 3 and 5 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
For more information

You could start as a lab technician and work your way up by training on the job. For example, on a part-time degree or a degree apprenticeship.

More information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join an organisation like the Science Council, which can help you:get professional recognition; find training opportunities; make industry contacts

Further information

You can find out more about working in biotechnology from the Science Council.

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With experience, you could move into areas like:project or departmental management; science communications; quality assurance; bioinformatics and data analysis; freelance consultancy or scientific advisory work; biotechnology policy and ethics

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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