research scientist manufacturing technician research technician fermentation scientist
Science, mathematics and statistics

Career outlook for biotechnologist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would use your biology knowledge to come up with products and processes that improve our health, our food and our world.

Your work would depend on your specific field.

In medical biotechnology and biotherapeutics you might:

  • Research genetics, proteins, antibodies, viruses, plants, fungi, bacteria and diseases
  • Develop treatments for the genetic causes of disease
  • Produce medicines using techniques such as cell culture and genetic modification

In environmental biotechnology you might:

  • Develop micro-organisms and plants to clean polluted land or water
  • Create renewable sources of energy
  • Produce environmentally-friendly materials for industry

In industrial biotechnology, you might:

  • Produce enzymes for use in food and drink
  • Create biological detergents and dyes
  • Improve animal feed
  • Genetically modify crops

In all three areas, you would:

  • Do practical work in a laboratory
  • Use computers and technical equipment
  • Write reports
  • Present your research
  • Keep records

Working conditions


You would usually work between 35 and 40 hours a week. This may include shifts, nights and weekends because many of the processes involved in research and industry need continuous monitoring.


You would mainly work in a modern laboratory, often in sterile conditions. You would normally wear protective clothing as part of your work.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Working with technology
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Sorting
  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


A degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a subject such as biotechnologies, biological science, microbiology, or chemistry.

Most undergraduate courses ask for at least four Highers at B or above (SCQF level 6). Some universities may require AABB (first sitting) for entry.

The University of Dundee offers a BSc Life Sciences course with only requires two Highers at B including Biology or Chemistry and one other subject; this course has been developed for those with high academic potential who experienced disadvantage. 

Useful subjects

  • Biology (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses) 
  • Chemistry (required by most courses) 
  • English
  • Science subjects
  • Techologies subjects

Helpful to have

Many people who do this job also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) (SCQF level 11) or a doctoral degree (SCQF level 12) in a relevant subject.

Although some technician level jobs, mainly based in laboratories, don't require a degree, competition in this industry is very fierce.