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5 biotech career paths where demand is skyrocketing

With many exciting discoveries to make and new problems to solve, the biotechnology industry provides many career opportunities that could make a difference in people’s lives. So, if you are searching for a career in the field, we have listed five biotechnology careers that are currently in high demand, and likely still will be in the future. 

Table of contents

    Gene therapy researcher

    From genetics to virology, biotech researchers have contributed to some of the world’s most pioneering technological advances. 

    As the name suggests, biotech researchers primarily conduct research. They often specialize in one particular area or type of work. Daily work might include deciding on research methods and objectives, collecting data, analyzing results, creating reports on their research, studying cell cultures and other items relevant to their research, and publishing reports.

    As the success of the COVID-19 vaccine has helped to highlight the biotech industry’s impact on global healthcare technology and research, demand for experts and researchers across all areas of biotech is now very high.

    Amber Penrose, founder of Moxee, a specialized recruitment agency for life sciences startups, noted that gene therapy researchers currently represent a career in high demand within the field of biotechnology. “These experts are in the limelight for their ground-breaking work in gene therapy, an area showing great promise for treating genetic disorders. Their role is crucial in creating and honing methods to manipulate genes within cells, aiming to cure diseases. The marked rise in clinical trials and regulatory green FDA lights underscores the significance of their expertise.”

    Manufacturing associates in drug production

    A manufacturing associate handles the production of pharmaceuticals. They work in factories and laboratories and ensure that they make the products to the correct specifications, playing a crucial role in ensuring that patients receive the treatments they need.

    Manufacturing associates also play an important role in troubleshooting any issues that may arise during production, working closely with other team members to identify and resolve any problems. In addition, they also maintain records of all production activities and keep track of any changes that are made to the manufacturing process.

    “There’s a growing call for professionals adept at producing pharmaceuticals, particularly those in scarce supply like certain ADHD treatments, GLP-1s, and cell-based therapies,” said Penrose. “Such biotechnology roles offer a degree of job security and a rapid learning curve, with career progression leading to project and program management away from the production floor.”

    AI specialists in drug discovery

    Given the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) in the biotechnology industry in the last few years, it is no surprise that AI specialists represent a career in high demand right now – a trend that will likely continue into the future, as AI becomes even more involved in all aspects of drug development.

    Penrose commented: “AI’s role in drug discovery is a hot topic in the 2024 conference circuit, whilst drug design has generated several question marks. This is spurred by the quest for more streamlined drug development cycles, a spike in chronic and infectious diseases, and the weaving of AI into pharma operations.”

    With many companies now incorporating AI into their drug discovery process, it is important to have people who are specialized in knowing exactly how the technology works, so they can streamline the drug development process as much as possible, and know how to fix any technical issues that may occur with the AI technology they are using.

    As Gideon Ho pointed out to Labiotech in a previous article about using AI in clinical research, people who use AI will ultimately replace people who don’t use AI. “It’s a natural evolution of things,” he said. “If you have new tools and you do not use them, you’re basically rendering yourself obsolete. If it is a good tool, we should use it and embrace it so that we will continue to remain relevant to the industry.”

    Microbiologists

    “This year is set to be pivotal for microbiologists, who are expected to deliver eco-friendly solutions to pressing global issues,” said Penrose. “Their ability to pioneer microbiome-focused diagnostic tools and personalized medical treatments is transforming the healthcare landscape…(which is) pretty cool!” 

    Essentially, microbiologists aim to answer many important global questions by understanding microbes. Their role is to study microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, as well as some types of parasites. They then attempt to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments. They can then use this knowledge to prevent or treat diseases and develop new technologies.

    Many microbiologists work as biomedical scientists in hospitals and laboratories, testing samples of body tissue, blood, and fluids to diagnose infections, monitor treatments, or track disease outbreaks. Some microbiologists work as clinical scientists in hospitals, universities, and medical school laboratories where they carry out research and give scientific advice to medical staff. Meanwhile, other microbiologists work on disease-causing microbes and use the information they find to develop vaccines and improve current treatments.

    CRISPR and gene editing scientists: a biotechnology career on the rise

    For the last few years, CRISPR gene editing has very much been in the limelight, and holds major potential when it comes to developing therapies for a range of different diseases.

    The technology allows scientists to edit parts of the genome by removing, adding, or altering sections of the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence. As you can imagine, this is an extremely complicated process, meaning there is currently a very high demand for scientists who understand gene editing techniques and are specialized in using CRISPR.

    Penrose said: “The FDA’s nod to Casgevy, a therapy developed by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and CRISPR Therapeutics, has triggered a flurry of recruitment in this niche, revealing a concerning gap between academic training and industry needs. The versatility of CRISPR technology is proving instrumental across various sectors, even in enhancing global food security.”

    Biotech job market outlook set to improve in 2024

    The biotech industry had a very difficult year in 2023, as massive layoffs took place throughout many companies due to a major economic downturn. However, it seems as though the industry is poised for a recovery in 2024, meaning the biotech job market outlook also looks bright for the upcoming year. In fact, according to a research study, the biotechnology market as a whole is expected to grow to $471,336.4 million in 2025. And, it is job roles like the ones mentioned in this article that will lead the way in the industry, helping to drive innovation even further.