Sometimes considered “the science of the future,” biotechnology fuses biological processes with modern technology to produce everything from disease-resistant food to vaccines and medicines to alternative fuels. If you are considering employment in this field, earning a Ph.D. in biotechnology can benefit your career in this ever-evolving industry in numerous ways.
More Job Opportunities
Earning a doctorate in the field of biotechnology can provide additional opportunities for high-ranking employment. For instance, if you possess only a bachelor’s degree, you may be able to find work as a lab assistant or research associate. With a Ph.D., however, you will have the potential to become a lead scientist and direct your own research studies. You also will be eligible to land a professorship at the university level. Both opportunities are unavailable to those who don’t have a Ph.D.
Along with enhanced career opportunities comes, of course, a higher salary. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a biotechnician with a bachelor’s degree earns an average starting salary of around $39,000, while a research scientist with a Ph.D. will make, on average, a yearly salary of $80,000 or more. If you choose to pursue a full-time professorship at a university or college, you can expect to make around $62,000 a year.
Ph.D. programs in biotechnology typically require extensive study and lab work in a single related discipline, such as biochemistry, chemical engineering or microbiology. This ensures that the Ph.D. candidate receives specialized, advanced training in a particular area and therefore becomes an expert in that chosen field of study. With the experience and training that you acquire while earning your Ph.D. comes the credibility you’ll need to lead a research group, publish your research studies in academic journals, secure funding for research, establish your own research firm or speak at academic conferences -- all opportunities that will further enhance your credibility, your employment choices and your salary.
According to the Biotechnology Institute, the number of employees working in biotechnology has increased 90 percent over the past 10 years, and this number is expected to continue to rise. As technology itself continues to advance, so will the field of biotechnology. While a research assistant with a bachelor’s degree may not progress beyond routine laboratory “bench research,” a Ph.D. in biotechnology will equip you with the versatility and critical thinking skills you need for your career to advance and evolve along with the field, opening the doors to a more creative and exciting career path.
Jennifer Brozak earned her state teaching certificate in Secondary English and Communications from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., and her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Pittsburgh. A former high school English teacher, Jennifer enjoys writing articles about parenting and education and has contributed to Reader's Digest, Mamapedia, Shmoop and more.