Ever wondered what would happen if we could engineer the microscopic genes in our body? We may become the new wolverine from X-men. Yes! that can be the result, but not in the near future. So for now, let us take a smaller and proven example; The Flavr Savr Tomato, an edible tomato that does not ripe. How did that come into existence? Thanks to biotechnology.
So, what is biotechnology?
It is an academic discipline that deals with the modification of biological systems using modern technologies. It was first introduced in the Indian education system in the year 1986. Due to its seemingly bright scope and vast nature, this academic discipline quickly gained popularity among those who are looking for a career in biology. Today, many reputed institutions in the country offer both undergraduate and postgraduate programs in biotechnology.
But what to do once you are out of college as a graduate in biotechnology? Believe me, many students find it difficult to make a choice. This can be either because there are too many career choices or they are not well informed about the opportunities in the field of biotechnology. So, here we are to offer some help. Now, let’s look at the career options available to you after BSc Biotechnology.
Research and development:
Like most other science subjects, students of biotechnology usually end up in research and development wings of various organizations. Here, they will do research and innovate new products with the use of biotechnology. In fact, many top-notch industrial, pharmaceutical, agricultural and bioengineering companies are in search of talented B.Sc. biotechnology graduates to work with them.
But this is not going to be a cakewalk. It requires you to pass a few entrance exams and interviews to get there. And if you make it, there is another mountain to climb. The work is not going to be as easy as you think. It will take a lot of patience, time and effort to make it big in this field. You would be the person to go in detail and perform thousands of experiments to increase the life of a tomato. But if you are keen on researching innovative ways to create new products or improve the existing methods, this might be a very fulfilling job opportunity.
Apparently, improving tomatoes is not only innovative but also great for your pockets. The average pay in R & D is about 6-7 LPA in India and with a few years of experience, you can earn more than 10 lakhs per annum.
Are you one of those free souls who do not want to get into a hectic job but wishes to stay in touch with your field of interest? In that case, teaching might prove to be one good choice. If you are that student who always enjoyed teaching your friends, a lot of opportunities are waiting just for you.
Teaching might not sound very exciting, but a teacher plays a very crucial role in a student’s life. You will get to pass on what you know to the next generation and also be part of small research projects. The pay in this field depends on your experience and skill sets. You can earn anywhere between 2 LPA and 20 LPA.
Now, how to become a teacher? As you know, schools don’t have biotechnology as a subject. But you can teach science in lower grades after doing B.Ed. To teach biotechnology in reputed colleges or universities, you need to complete your MSc in Biotechnology and then clear UGC NET. If you could make people understand how a normal tomato was turned into the flavr savr tomato, it will never be just money but also respect.
It is hard to choose a career option after B.Sc. biotechnology. The subject is vast. It has its roots in Genetics, Life science, Agriculture, Aquaculture, Growth of Vaccines and Medicines, Energy production, Curing prolonged diseases, etc. Given these multiple choices, it becomes hard to choose a career in a specific subject.
So, if you are still not sure about the area that suits you the best, go for M.Sc. in biotech. It is a 2-year postgraduate program in Biotechnology that helps you gain an in-depth understanding of the subject and its branches. The course will also give you the opportunity to specialize in your area of interest under this seemingly vast field. Once done with MSc biotechnology, you can either start working or pursue your Ph.D. in the same discipline. This will lead you to better opportunities
There are a number of institutes in India that offer M.Sc Biotechnology courses. Few of them are JNU, Fergusson College, Mount Carmel College, Jamia Hamdard, etc. In most institutions, the admissions are on the basis of merit. Some institutes conduct entrance exams for admissions to M.Sc Biotechnology programs.
Masters could be the turning point. Hence, it should be chosen wisely. Also, a combination of theoretical and practical knowledge can help you build a successful career. So, do as many internships as possible and apply your theoretical knowledge.
Lab assistant/ technician:
How does it feel to have no contamination in the culture? Good, isn’t it? Thank your lab assistant next time. It is because of their efforts to keep labs and equipment sterilized, we are able to perform the experiments successfully, with zero contamination.
So, who is a lab assistant? He or she is the person who helps scientists and technologists during lab testing and research. They prepare samples, manage lab records, conduct tests, analyse results and document them.
You can apply for the position of a lab assistant right after completing BSc Biotechnology. A good knowledge of the subject and the experience with lab equipment are the only additional requirements necessary for the position.
You can choose to work in colleges, industries or clinical labs. The number of vacancies available for this profile is quite high. That’s a bonus along with a good work-life balance. The pay might not be as good, but if you like it, you might as well do it.
What if I tell you that one can become a patenting agent after doing BSc Biotechnology? Yes, you heard me right. Calgene invented Flavr Savr tomato. Inorder to stop someone else from stealing or copying the technology, Calgene patented their invention. The biotech graduates who helped them with the patenting process are called patenting agents.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the term ‘patent’, it is a legal document that gives the inventor( the person or the company) the sole right to sell, use, modify or make copies of his or her invention for a certain number of years. Just like how a travel agent takes care of your trip from the start till the end, the patenting agent helps their clients patent their invention from documentation to handling all the legal proceedings.
Now, one good thing about this role is that not many people are aware of this job.
Less popular, low competition!
The best part is yet to come. You don’t have to study for more years to become a certified patent agent. Clear the patent agent exam which is held every year.The next thing you know is that you will be earning 3LPA to 15LPA for filing documents. The job is not as easy as it seems; considering all the laws, documents, petitions and time involved. But it’s still an interesting job profile.
MBA in Pharmaceutical Management:
After spending 3 years on BSc biotech, you just realised that you don’t want to become a scientist or a teacher or a technician. You’d rather be the person who manages them, make them work in a team.
But how to get to that position while still keeping in touch with the field of biotech? Such roles require the skill to manage people. Trust me, it’s much harder than culturing bacteria in Petri dishes.
So what to do? An MBA/PGDM in Pharmaceutical management can be the turning point. This will help you polish your non-technical skills, that can possibly get you a good position in a company. You can opt to work in hospitals, pharma companies, chemical industries, bioengineering labs, etc as a manager or supervisor. You would be using your leadership and managerial skills to ensure a smooth workflow. It is a great way to combine technical and non-technical skill sets and make them work for you. The average income of a hospital manager in India is about 7-8 LPA. In a service-based industry, there is no bar for what you can earn. Your worth will be decided on the basis of your caliber.
B.Sc in biotech is like this big cake shop. You can choose any cake from the shop. But the question is, which cake tastes better? Making a choice is never easy. The best way to find out is by trying out a few flavors before purchase. Do part-time jobs or internships or volunteering, things that will give you experience. This will make it easier for you to decide your path. Trust me, life will become a beautiful journey if you like what you do. Do well, all the best!!!