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Biotechnology is the use of the genetic and biochemical processes of living organisms for human usage, such as for agricultural or medical advancement (considering genetically modified crops and various vaccines). At the University of Newcastle there is a particular emphasis on the application of DNA and cell technologies to human health, plant and animal agriculture and the environment within this degree. There is also a strong optional work placement and a high degree of laboratory work, ensuring practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge.
Students in this degree will primarily study biology, chemistry, and mathematics. There are no majors within this degree, however, students wishing to specialise in a particular field may choose to undertake an Honours year at the completion of their degree, which will also enhance employment prospects and is a popular option for many students.
Biotechnology graduates are employed in a diverse range of industries and areas, including pharmaceuticals, forensic science, environmental sustainability, research, and agriculture. Students may find employment in the public and private sectors, as well as with non-government organisations and consultancy services, research organisations and academia.
Academic advice: view Study Pathways for this degree »
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of honours and postgraduate study options available. Postgraduate study may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the further study options following the Bachelor of Biotechnology include:
As the global job sector can be competitive, it is of great advantage to complete a postgraduate qualification, particularly by independent research (such as Masters by Research, or PhD). See examples of research areas within this discipline here.
Postgraduate coursework programs can add further specialisations in areas including business, safety, quality assurance and teaching. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook at http://www.newcastle.edu.au/program/postgraduate/
The following list provides some examples of job titles that may be available to Biotechnology graduates. Some of these jobs will depend on the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, the combination of other majors and electives studied, and some may require further study.
Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for graduates with the skills gained in a Biotechnology degree.
Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.
- Agricultural Scientist
- Clinical Research Coordinator
- Science Editor
- Education Officer
- Environmental/Ecological Biologist
- Field Assistant
- Food Technologist
- Forensic Biologist
- Generalist Programs
- International Aid/Development Worker
- Laboratory Analyst
- Medical Technician
- Molecular Biologist
- Patent Attorney / Technical Advisor
- Pathology Assistant
- Policy Officer/Analyst
- Process Development Manager
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- Reproductive Medicine / IVF Chemist
- Research Fellow
- Research Officer
- Scientific Policy Officer
- Technical Sales Representative
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Bachelor of Biotechnology graduates find employment opportunities in small, medium or large organisations of varying industries. Below are some examples of organisations that may recruit those holding this degree.
Check employers' websites for sections titled Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs, or for similar sections. Some employers may also offer vacation work opportunities.
- Alphapharm (Australia)
- Australian Genome Research Facility (Australia)
- Bio21 Institute (Australia)
- Biolink (Australia)
- AusBiotech (Australia)
- Cellabs (Australia)
- Cochlear (Australia)
- CSIRO (Australia)
- CSL Limited (Australia)
- Edwards Instrument Company and Medical Supplies (Australia)
- Environmental Resources Management (Australia)
- Garvan Institute of Medical Research (Sydney) (Australia)
- Hunter IVF (Australia)
- Hunter Medical Research Institute (Australia)
- Hunter Water (Australia)
- Jurox (Australia)
- Merck & Co. (Australia)
- Monsanto (Australia)
- ResMed (Australia)
- Rio Tinto (International)
- Tyrian Diagnostics (Australia)
- Walter & Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
- AgBioForum (Australia)
- AusBiotech (Australia)
- Australia-New Zealand Biotech Alliance (Australia)
- Australian Academy of Science (Australia)
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduate Attributes and Employability
Bachelor of Biotechnology graduates will have the skills, abilities and knowledge sought after by a broad range of employers. On completion of the degree, graduates can expect:
1. In-depth knowledge of and skills in biotechnology.
2. An understanding of the biotechnology industry and its requirements.
3. An ability to effectively collect, analyse and organise biotechnology-related information.
4. Skills in problem solving and critical analysis.
5. A high level of skill in communication using written, oral and graphical presentation techniques appropriate to the audience.
6. Ethical awareness, professional practice and awareness of the relationship between biotechnology and society.