I want to work in Biotechnology

Find out how you can start a career in Biotechnology. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Job roles


Biotechnology involves making a micro-organism capable of producing desirable biochemicals not available via chemical synthesis.

Uses of Biotechnology

Traditionally brewing, agriculture and dairy production.

More recently:

  • Medical and veterinary fields.
  • Genetic engineering - improved plants.
  • Health care products - antibiotics, vaccines, hormones - fermentation scientist.
  • Biochemical products - enzymes, vitamins, flavours, organic solvents.
  • Agricultural - nitrogen fixation, composting.
  • Metal extraction - copper.
  • Sewage and waste treatment - pollutant degradation.
  • Energy industry - generating methane fuel from sewage and effluents.

Skills required:

  • Receptivity to new ideas
  • Flexibility
  • Problem solving
  • Team-working in a multidisciplinary team.

Multi disciplinary

  • Microbiology is the main discipline plus biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, immunology, biochemical and chemical engineering. Not a distinct discipline.
  • Mainly postgraduate/PhD/postdoc. Recruitment - not much for first degree people.

Job Roles

  • Bioprocess technology and development
  • Fermentation Scientist
  • Genetic manipulation and engineering
  • Protein engineering
  • Downstream processing
  • Cell Culture
  • Production
  • Quality Assurance


There are about 450 biotech companies in the UK employing about 21,000 employees. UK Companies account for 35% of products (drug development) in Europe & have 41% of new drug development in late stage clinical trials.

  • Much of the biotechnology growth is in small companies - research and development posts in University Science Parks and new companies providing specialist products based on novel biotechnology.
  • Large Pharmaceutical and Chemical Companies such as Unilever Research, GSK, Pfizer.
  • Food Companies also recruit biotechnologists.
  • Public Sector Research establishments and research councils such as the Food Research Association and the Brewing Research Foundation.
  • Water Companies waste treatment
  • Universities

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing sector with many universities doing research into the area and then setting up their own businesses. An ageing workforce suggests that their may be skills shortages over the next 10 years.
The recession has meant that some projects have been postponed. There has been a farming out of research at Pfizer and SKB to the smaller pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as they can do this more cheaply than in-house. Some of the smaller pharmaceutical companies and scientific services organisations are growing due to larger companies outsourcing to them and also new drug discoveries.

Find out more

Biotechnology Links

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