Molecular Biology: Career Options
Molecular biology studies plants, animals and human genetics, their variations and relationships. These professionals use their knowledge and understanding of biology, chemistry, physics, physiology and genetics to deal with various types of cells, DNAs and their manifestations.
This emerging new field of study is quite unexplored and provides ample opportunities for research in the fields of medicine, agriculture, animal husbandry and associated fields.
Having a degree in molecular biology opens multiple career options, both in the industry (biologists, cellular biologists, teaching etc) and in the field of research (as a research specialist conducting experiments in clinical or non-clinical areas).
Here are a few prominent possible career options for a student of molecular biology:
1. ENVIRONMENTAL BIOLOGIST
With an aim to protect the ecosystem, these professionals study the biological aspects of the entire ecosystem with special emphasis on the impact of human activities on the ecosystem as a whole and on specific species.
They would typically find favour with government agencies, universities and laboratories investigating and researching on various things like — the impact of pollutants, impact of developmental and infra projects and maintaining environmental monitoring systems.
2. BIOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCHER
Biotechnology researchers often work in state-of-the-art laboratories within universities, research institutes or manufacturing plants.
Their research is at the forefront of several of the pressing issues the world is facing, such as disease control through innovation in medicine, food security through creation and improvement of products and processes in agriculture and various conservation efforts in climate change and fuel alternatives.
They would develop new vaccines, cross-breed plants and animals, design bionic body parts and develop sustainable and healthy food alternatives.
They study the various microscopic life forms like viruses, algae, bacteria and other parasites. While studying the chemical structure of these living cells and tissues they develop new products and processes.
Job description can include projects like improving sterilisation processes and developing new drugs through complex research, discover new processes for treatment of illnesses, monitoring and studying the effect of micro-organisms on plants and animals and providing necessary intelligence to executives, scientists and engineers with their reports.
They monitor and study the growth, structure, characteristics and development of different viruses and their relationship with plants, animals, bacteria, fungi etc.
These set of professionals conduct their study both in the laboratory as well as in natural environments.
Job roles can include diagnosis and investigation of pharmacological response of viruses to different drugs, advising public health experts and hospitals on prescription, vaccine use, immunisation and use and safety of antiviral drugs.
SKILLS AND DEGREES IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
Students with interest, qualifications and skills will find the career of a molecular biologist challenging yet rewarding.
While studying the programme, students develop an array of subject specific skills which equip them with the ability to use investigative and analysis techniques, interpretation of data through various quantitative techniques and statistical programs, conduct research and critically evaluate the findings and finally applying scientific thoughts and rationale.
The course also teaches students various soft skills like problem-solving skills, teamwork, communication, time management and organisational skills.
Students will be able to pick up from several other jobs in the domain like academic researcher, biotechnologist, biomedical scientist, food technologist, nanotechnologist, medicinal chemist, clinical research associate, water quality scientist and several others.
To become a molecular biologist, you will need to study either BSc with specialisation in Biochemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology or BTech in Biotechnology, Molecular and Cellular Engineering.
Due to increasing competition in this field, a master’s degree in biotechnology would definitely help. The most advanced step of career enrichment as a molecular biologist is a PhD programme.
JOB PROSPECTS IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
The developments in biotechnology bring in a lot of potential and promise for this new field of science.
Demand for molecular biology experts would grow by about 5% every year for the next 10 years; albeit the best time to seize the opportunity is now!
With opening salaries of Rs 6L to 8L for a fresher, the segment presents a bright future of the professionals entering the specialisation.
By: Amrit Das