How to Find a Biotechnology Job

How to Find a Biotechnology Job

Biotechnology is a growing field that combines biology with technology and engineering. It has uses in medicine, agriculture and many other fields. Biotech jobs vary widely with biotechnologists working with cell cultures, new foods and medicines, waste treatment and even quality assurance. Learn how to get the education and networking skills you need to succeed as a biotechnologist.

Making the Most of Your Education

Major in biology. Majoring in biology is a great first step towards a biotechnology career. If you want to seek out a biotech job right after college, consider getting a double-major in biology and a closely-related field, like chemistry, nutrition, computer science, or business.[1]
Biotech jobs are very difficult to find if you don’t have a college degree or if your degree is in something totally unrelated to science or technology. Consider going back to school or seeking out part-time, entry-level jobs in labs.

Take classes that will help your biotechnology career. Employers are looking for someone who not only knows a lot about biology and technology, but can also communicate their findings and market their research. In addition to your biology classes, be sure you take classes in computer science, marketing, and writing.[2]
If your school offers pre-med courses, take them! Many biotechnology jobs are in the field of medicine.

Get experience working in groups. Biotechnologists almost always work in group settings, whether it’s a lab, a government department, or a corporate office. Start practicing your group work skills early. Focus on learning how to delegate responsibilities, how to collaborate with others, and how to take credit fairly.

Take advantage of internship opportunities. Speak to your professors and your school’s career services office about internships, and take advantage of them whenever possible. Good internship opportunities for people interested in biotech include hospitals, laboratories, and companies with biotech, biomedical, or biochemistry research divisions.[3]

Choose a specific path in biotechnology. It will be much easier to find a biotech job if you can narrow down a specific area--these jobs require lots of specialization! Before you start your job search or head off to graduate school, choose an area to focus on. Important fields for biotechnologists include agriculture, cancer research, food chemistry, and pharmaceuticals.[4]

Go to graduate school. Most biotech jobs require a graduate degree to advance beyond the entry-level. A medical degree, a Ph.D. in biology or chemistry, or even an MBA with a strong science background can be instrumental in landing you the biotech job of your dreams.[5]
If graduate school isn’t an option, you can still work in the biotech industry. Look for entry-level lab jobs or work in related fields like quality assurance, technical writing, and business development.

Networking Effectively

Find a mentor. A good mentor can teach you about the job, coach you during applications and interviews, and keep an eye out for opportunities you might not know about. Think about people you have met whose careers you admire, and talk to them about mentoring you. Good choices can be your professors, supervisors from an internship, and alumni from your college.[6]

Identify local biotechnology opportunities. Search online and ask your mentor or professors about biotech opportunities in the area you want to live in. Ask specifically about labs, companies, and schools hiring in biotech.[7]

Visit your school’s career services office. Your college can help put you in touch with companies that are hiring, and it can even direct you to alumni who work at the companies you want to work for. Remember, you can talk to career services even after you’ve graduated![8]

Hand out business cards. Business cards will help people keep in touch with you and will make you look professional and polished. You don’t need to spend lots of money on them--in fact, a simple design can look much more professional than a colorful, wordy business card. Your business card should have your name, job title or degree, email, and phone number. You can order business cards from a company, or make them at home.
Use an email address that’s just your name, or your name and a series of numbers. Save the fun email addresses for personal mail.
If you have a website or a professional social media account, add it to your business card! Don’t include your personal accounts or websites--they can appear unprofessional.

Keep an updated resume on hand. When you’re networking, you should always be ready to send someone your resume immediately. Ask your mentor, your professors, or your school’s career services office to help you put a resume together and to check over it when it’s done. Update your resume every time you finish a degree or certification, change jobs, get an internship, or win an award related to biotech. Keep paper copies of your resume in your bag when you go to networking events, and keep an updated electronic copy ready to email to anyone who asks for it.[9]
Be sure to update your resume if you change your contact information!

Join professional organizations. Joining a professional biotechnology organization can introduce you to people and companies you might not know about otherwise. There are many professional organizations focusing on different biotech fields, so ask your mentor or professors which is the best one for you. Once you’ve joined, attend every conference, networking event, and lecture you can.[10]
Membership in professional organizations often comes with a subscription to a scientific journal or magazine. Be sure to read it carefully--they often have job advertisements, and you’ll need to know about the latest research in your area!
Don’t forget to join LinkedIn!

Check your personal network for connections. You might already know someone working at your dream company! Take a look at your address book and social media contacts list, and see if anyone you know is currently working in biotech. Don’t forget to ask your mentor, family, and friends for contacts.[11]

Consider moving. Biotech jobs are most likely to be found in major cities or near major universities or hospitals. You may need to consider moving to another state or even another country to pursue your biotechnology career.[12]

Applying for and Getting a Job

Ask your contacts about job openings. Put your networking to use by talking to your contacts about job openings at their companies or with their own connections. Send polite, professional emails asking if they know about any jobs you would be good for.[13]
Professional emails are short, have a salutation, a closing, and are organized into complete sentences with correct grammar and punctuation. Be sure to say please and thank you in your email!
Don't forget to attach your resume!

Search online for jobs. Look at major job search sites like, LinkedIn, or Most biotech journals and professional organizations also have a job ads section, so be sure to look at those too.

Send your resume to major biotech companies. Many companies don't necessarily advertise their job openings. If there's a specific company or department you're interested in, send your resume and a brief email introducing yourself. They may have something that fits you.[14]
Your email should be short, polite, and professional. Introduce yourself, provide a few sentences covering your education, any work experience, and any major projects you've worked on. Then, ask politely if there are any openings that would be a good fit for you.

Write a cover letter template. Biotech jobs will require cover letters, so it's best to have a basic letter ready to go. A cover letter template will discuss your educational and job history and your future research interests. You'll add in information specific to the job for each individual application.[15]

Apply for jobs. Put in applications for jobs you're interested in. Proofread every application, and make sure the cover letter, resume, and any additional materials are updated and match the job application.[16]

Study the lab, company, or department. Once you get an interview request, research the workplace. Search online or ask your mentor for information. If it’s a lab, learn who the head scientist is and what their research specialization is. For companies, you’d want to focus on their profit margins, main competitors, and latest innovations. If you’re interviewing at a university or government department, learn who the head of the department is and what major research has been produced there recently.[17]

Read the latest research in your subfield. Biotechnology interviewers will expect you to know the latest research in your area, so prepare for your interview by reading the newest editions of biotech journals. You don’t have to read every word, but you should know what the latest techniques are and who developed them. You can get journals from your professional organization or your school’s library.[18]

Dress professionally. Biotech departments and firms will require business professional dress at interviews. This means that you should wear an ironed suit in a conservative color, dark dress shoes, and minimal accessories. Any ties or pocket squares should match the suit in both color and texture. If you carry a bag, it should be a briefcase.[19]
Your suit should fit you correctly. If it’s baggy, impedes movement, or can’t button, take it to a tailor.

Arrive on time. Never, ever be late for an interview! If you can’t make it a few minutes early, make sure you can show up right on time. Plan your route beforehand, and if you take public transportation, take an earlier train or bus. If you drive, don’t forget to give yourself time to park.[20]
If you arrive more than 15 minutes early, it’s best to stay in your car or go to a coffee shop to wait. They may not be ready for you.

Prepare a list of questions to ask. Not having anything to say at the end of the interview can give the interviewer the impression that you don’t care or have already decided against the job. Show your interest in the job by preparing a list of questions to ask at the interview.[21]
Don’t ask about salary, perks, or benefits at the initial interview. Save those questions for a second or third round.
Try asking “How does your lab interact with researchers from government labs?” or “How is your team going to implement the latest findings from Dr. Wu’s research project?”
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