Biotechnology, a newly emergent and highly technical field, which concerns itself with the use of biological processes in order to aid technological advancement. Also known as the 'life sciences,' cellular manipulations can be used to fight new strains of disease, or in theory, even cure world hunger. The industry produces about £3 billion in annual revenue in the UK and provides employment for more than 20,000 staff at some 300 businesses. The UK is one of the leading nations in the world for biotechnology, and has won an impressive 23 Nobel Prizes for breakthroughs in the field.
Biotech Recruitment agencies report that many employment opportunities are available in the areas of clinical research, chemical engineering, and warehouse operations as well as the ever-obvious need for clerical and secretarial staff. Most of these roles require a relevant degree or masters but biology related courses are traditionally some of the most oversubscribed and competitive with only around 20% of applicants being accepted. Professionals in the field are required not only to have advanced academic degrees, but to also complete hands-on training programmes, (usually provided on the job), to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and the practical demands of the profession.
While many of the job roles are degree driven, there are non graduate routes into the industry, namely in areas such as animal care. In this area, employers will mainly look for GCSEs and A-levels but previous experience in caring for animals will weigh heavily on any prospects. On-the-job training will prove to be the most important aspect in this role but staff may later be encouraged to undertake an NVQ in Animal Technology.
London is the UK hub for Biotechnology which would perhaps justify the significantly higher salaries which are found there when compared to the rest of the country. Nationwide salaries range from £20-55K, and the average income is about £30K. In London, however, that average rises to £42K.
The largest employers for this field in the UK are Unilever Research, GSK, and Pfizer, with the latter frequently finding itself at the top of the big spenders list for research projects. A significant proportion of jobs are also university affiliated, and PhD research accounts for a major part of the industry.