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Alternative titles for this job include

Biotechnologists study plants, animals, microbes, biochemistry and genetics to develop new products and improve existing ones.

Average salary (a year)

£23,000 Starter


£44,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

Meet Dr Marin Sawa

You could work on a wide range of research projects as a biotechnologist. Find out how Dr Marin uses biotechnology to create a green energy solution.

2 minute 30 second watch

View transcript

I'm developing a bio energy wallpaper that can capture light energy and convert it into electrical energy. It could be an alternative to solar panels and it could be generating electricity simply from growing algae on your walls.

I really enjoy working with algae and seeing the bacteria not only because they produce oxygen, so I get a lot of oxygen out of them, but because they're green. And as a human being, I naturally react to the colour green or green organisms. I think it's just something in our DNA that remember that our ancestral root actually comes from photosynthetic organisms.

And by tapping into algae’s photosynthetic power, you could be charging everything from your phones to sitting room lights, to little sensors. It is incredibly green, clean energy solution.

I use inkjet methods to interface these photosynthetic microorganisms onto paper, and I use paper for biodegradability and also paper being quite common element in architecture, mostly in material. And these patterning plays an important role in designing not just functional but aesthetic.

I then construct the bio electrons into bio photovoltaic devices. I will measure the output and also analyse the longevity of the living bio photovoltaic system. Who knows? We may have photosynthetic organisms as our charging points across the world.

It makes so much more sense to surround our living environment with green surfaces that harvest light and enrich our environment.

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become Biotechnologist

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You can do a degree qualification in a relevant scientific subject, like:

  • biotechnology
  • bioscience
  • microbiology
  • biochemistry
  • food science
  • chemistry or chemical engineering

As well as a degree, some employers may want you to have a postgraduate qualification, especially for research posts.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and science
  • 2 or 3 A levels, or equivalent, including biology or chemistry
  • a degree in a relevant subject for postgraduate study

More Information


You may be able to get into this job by doing an apprenticeship, such as:

  • Science Manufacturing Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Technician Scientist Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship
  • Laboratory Science Level 6 Degree Apprenticeship

These apprenticeships take between 3 and 5 years to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information


You could start as a lab technician and work your way up by training on the job. For example, on a part-time degree or a degree apprenticeship.

More Information

Professional and industry bodies

You can join an organisation like the Science Council, which can help you:

  • get professional recognition
  • find training opportunities
  • make industry contacts

Further information

You can find out more about working in biotechnology from the Science Council.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • maths knowledge
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • analytical thinking skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a biotechnologist, your day to day duties will depend on your specialism.

In environmental biotechnology, you could:

  • clean polluted land or water using micro-organisms and plants
  • develop alternative sources of energy, like biodiesel
  • make environmentally friendly raw materials, like biodegradable plastics

In industrial biotechnology, you could:

  • clone and create enzymes for use in manufacturing food and drink
  • improve animal feed
  • modify crops to increase productivity and resistance to pests

In medical biotechnology and biotherapeutics, you could:

  • study human genetics, antibodies, viruses, plants, fungi and bacteria
  • develop therapies and vaccines to tackle the causes of disease
  • produce medicines using techniques like cell culture and genetic modification

Working environment

You could work at a research facility, at a university or in a laboratory.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into areas like:

  • project or departmental management
  • science communications
  • quality assurance
  • bioinformatics and data analysis
  • freelance consultancy or scientific advisory work
  • biotechnology policy and ethics

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Degree Apprentice Development Chemist

  • Wage: £19,000 a year Annually
  • Location: Wakefield Road, Swillington, Leeds

Lab Technician Apprentice

  • Wage: £18,000 a year Annually
  • Location: Ashton Under Lyne, Manchester

Courses In England

GCE Chemistry

  • Start date: 01 September 2024
  • Location: NORTHAMPTON

GCE A Level in Chemistry

  • Start date: 02 September 2024
  • Location: Brentwood

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