We are all used to the idea that we live in the information age, that the advance in digital technologies is what makes this epoch what it is, what differentiates it from all other periods of human history. Yet it is not completely true.
Although digital technologies play crucial role in modern world, they are but a part of multi-faceted scientific revolution amidst which we live. And another, probably equally important yet much less visible part of it is biotechnology.
It is more than likely that in not so distant future breakthroughs in this field will change the world and the quality of human existence beyond recognition. Scientists already make tentative attempts at artificially growing individual organs and tissues, move closer and closer to determining the true meaning of DNA and understanding the mechanism of life itself. Biotechnology is at the core of these and most of the future changes in this field – and by entering a biotechnology college you may become one of the people who are going to shape the new age of human history.
Host of Possibilities
However, by entering a biotechnology course you do not limit your future vocation to research activities; other occupation possibilities include patent lawyer, pharmaceutical salesperson, environmental biotechnologist, research and development assistant, physician, veterinarian, biological technician, health inspector and others. You will be fully eligible for any of these career paths, and your knowledge of biotechnology, i.e., fuller and deeper understanding of how living organisms function, will probably give you an edge over those who didn’t take that course.
In fact, the vast number of choices in this field may and probably will overwhelm those willing to pursue careers in this field. But all in all there are six general types of education programs: certificate, associate, bachelor’s, master’s, PhD, and dual degree programs.
Certificate programs are mostly aimed at those who are willing to broaden their expertise in biotechnology without specializing in it, usually aiming at finding a job immediately after. However, this credential is only enough for a job of a lab technician or research assistant. They tend to last 2-4 full semesters.
Associate programs are similar, but more in-depth and last for 2 years. They are a good choice for preparing oneself for a bachelor’s degree or getting an entry-level laboratory assistant job.
Bachelor’s programs became rather rare in recent years due to increasing specialization of this field – usually one is expected to get a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as biology or biochemistry, and then pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology.
Further programs are aimed at deepening one’s knowledge, and by the time you reach them you are unlikely to need any advice as to which career to pursue.
Biotechnology programs are interdisciplinary and include coursework in chemistry, physics, biology and engineering consisting of laboratory sessions, lectures and field work. Don’t forget that you should be prepared to entering such a course – absolute majority of them require strong background in mathematics and sciences, and for an advanced degree you will almost certainly be required to have some lab experience. For your Master’s degree you will get an opportunity to choose a specialization – in this respect biotechnology courses are different from the majority of post-baccalaureate programs – which means that by this time you should have a pretty distinct idea of what career you are going to pursue.
You may get some idea of the multi-faceted nature of this discipline from this list of possible classes it may include: principles of bioprocessing, computer science, microbiology, organic chemistry, microbial genetics, biochemistry principles, molecular biology, mathematics, statistics. As a result, you get a truly multidimensional education which opens a way to a number of fascinating specializations like bioinformatics, cellular microbiology and others.
Vocation of the Future
Just like the end of 20th century and the beginning of 21st century will be remembered as the age of informatics, the 21st century proper is likely to make it into history as the age of biotechnology.
It plays an ever-growing role in a wide array of activities: crop enhancement, diagnostics and treatment of diseases, development of waste-free technologies and so on. Biotechnology is everywhere: from food products to forensic science and astronautics. And by choosing it as your specialization you will be able to take part in shaping the future.