Most biological technicians work at institutions of higher learning and within the realm of scientific research and development services. In greater Los Angeles, specialists earn an average annual salary of around $50,000, according to current data. In the coming years, they will be needed to help research scientists develop new treatments for chronic disorders and debilitating diseases, such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Alzheimer’s.
For many, the studious path toward a meritorious career in biotechnology starts early.
“I have always been interested in biology. My journey to study microbiology began when I was in high school, reading an article about genetic engineering,” said Dr. Hyunsook Park, an associate professor in the department of biological sciences at California State University, Los Angeles. “I was fascinated with the fact that microorganisms provide all the crucial components promoting the greatest inventions in genetic engineering.”
How has your formal education benefited you?
“My graduate work in a doctoral program provided me with key basic knowledge and skills to study microbiology. My independent research ability was developed with my training in a post-doctoral fellowship.”
How are you helping biotechs become working scientists?
“I am working with several undergraduate and graduate students who have joined my research group. Under my supervision, they are currently conducting experiments to identify the molecular mechanisms by which Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen, cause infections in patients with impaired immune systems.”
How will a biotech’s role change by 2025?
“Biological technicians will serve as a major task force in various areas of basic and clinical research, at pharmaceutical companies and throughout the biotech industry. There will be significantly increased numbers of biotechs from nontraditional backgrounds, who will represent an ethnically and economically-underrepresented demographic.”
What is your message to biotechs who aspire to become scientists?
“I encourage them to participate in individual research options by working directly with faculty members that are actively conducting studies on campus. They should also apply for various summer internship opportunities. Having certificates in special areas of technology or an advanced degree, such as a master’s in science, would strengthen their qualifications to become research scientists.”
Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist. Some news articles she has authored are archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.