What Is Biotechnology Engineering? (With Course Details)

Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 November 2022

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Biotechnology combines the study of living organisms and other biological processes to develop and produce medicines and other products. If you enjoy studying chemistry and biology, you can pursue biotechnology engineering. Biotechnology is an emerging field, and in-depth knowledge about this course can help you make a conscious choice. In this article, we discuss what is biotechnology engineering, its course details, necessary skills and job scope.

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What Is Biotechnology Engineering?

What is biotechnology engineering, can be described as the fusion of both biology and technology for the research and development of new products. It is an engineering discipline—the field of chemical engineering and applied biology—that includes engineering living organisms. It involves studying micro-organisms, bio-organisms and cell functions in living beings.

Related: What Does a Biomedical Engineer Do? (With Salary and Skills)

Biotechnology Engineering Course Details

One can consider biotechnology engineering as a career choice at various levels. Below are the three generic courses you can go for:

Diploma in biotechnology engineering

The minimum eligibility criteria for the diploma in biotechnology engineering is 10th or equivalent, with maths and science as the subject. The course duration is three years. Students who pursue this course can pursue their careers as clinical laboratory technicians, biological supplies manufacturers, environmental technicians, food safety technicians, infectious disease researchers, biological technicians and pharmaceutical research technicians.

BTech in biotechnology

BTech in biotechnology is a 4-year bachelor's degree programme. The minimum eligibility criteria for BTech biotechnology is 55% aggregate in 10+2 with science subjects like physics, chemistry, biology and maths. Some colleges take admission based on 10+2 marks, whereas some conduct their own entrance tests. Also, there are some common entrance examinations on state and central levels for BTech biotechnology as JEE Main, WBJEE and KCET.

MTech in biotechnology

MTech in biotechnology is a postgraduate program. The minimum eligibility criteria for this course is a bachelor's degree with a minimum aggregate of 55%. You can do your bachelor's in subjects like biotechnology, biosciences and other related subjects from a recognised university. The course duration is two years, each with two semesters. Colleges offer admission based on the marks obtained in the entrance test or the bachelor's degree. Some of the entrance tests for MTech are Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology Entrance Exam (KIITEE), Tamil Nadu Common Entrance Test (TANCET) etc.

Are Biotechnology Engineers In Demand?

Biotechnology has a global scope in industries such as health care (medical), agriculture, waste treatment and food production. It is increasingly appearing as a promising career option for its implications in human welfare. In recent years, there is a huge demand for biotechnology engineers to fight the current health crisis and diseases like COVID-19. The need for drugs, test techniques and vaccines calls for biotechnology engineers as well. Research and incubation centres established in recent times are going to create many opportunities for aspirants.

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Job Opportunities After Biotechnology Engineering

Here are some jobs you can consider after biotechnology engineering:

  • Biotechnology researcher

  • Quality controller

  • Research biochemist

  • Associate engineer

  • Lab technician

  • Professor

  • Research associate

  • Biotechnologist

  • Clinical researcher

  • Medical writer

  • Microbiologist

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What And Where Do Biotechnology Engineers Work?

There are immense job opportunities in biotechnology engineering. Some of the roles of biotechnology engineers include:

  • Study biological systems and living organisms to create new products and drugs

  • Research and analysis of key biological processes to reach breakthrough solutions using advanced technologies

  • Develop various techniques to diagnose diseases and test efficacy of new drugs

  • Develop software to run medical instruments

  • Work on improving products and the efficiency of existing devices and processes

  • Work at universities, laboratories or support teams in research projects

Usually, biotechnology engineers work in pharmaceutical companies, breweries, healthcare facilities and environmental departments.

Key Research Areas Under Biotechnology

Key research areas under biotechnology are:

  • Medical biotechnology

  • Plant biotechnology

  • Environmental biotechnology

  • Applied microbiology

  • Bioinformatics

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How To Become A Biotechnology Engineer?

You can follow the steps below to become a biotechnology engineer:

Complete your higher-secondary education

The first step to build a career as a biotechnology engineer is to complete higher secondary education or 10+2. You can do your 10+2 in science subjects like maths, physics, chemistry and biology. You need a minimum of 50% marks in these subjects to apply for a bachelor's degree program.

Get a bachelor's degree

After finishing higher education, apply for a bachelor's degree program like BTech in biotechnology, biomedical engineering or B.Sc in biotechnology. You may be required to clear entrance exams conducted by state, centre or university for admission, while some colleges may offer admission on a merit basis. It is important to score well in the 10+2 exam for merit-based admission. Some colleges that offer merit-based admission are BMS College of Engineering, Rajalakshmi Engineering College and Vivekanandha College of Engineering for Women.

Consider pursuing a master's degree

Having a master's degree from a recognised university increases the chance of getting a job. Although a master's degree is not compulsory, it is an advanced study and gives experience and enhances knowledge and skills that employers look for in aspirants. You can get admission to this course by clearing entrance exams or on a merit basis.

Get internships

Many students go for internships while pursuing their bachelor's or master's. Getting into an internship during study can help you connect with professionals and experts. An internship gives valuable work experience and learn new concepts that can help you get a job easily.

Apply for jobs

Once you have completed your degree and gained experience, you can look for job openings in your preferred locations that meet your qualifications and specialities. You can also reach out to your professional connections—they can help you unlock many opportunities. You can also find jobs online or email recruiters with your well-created CV highlighting your specifications, potentials and experiences.

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Necessary Skills For Biotechnology Engineers

Biotechnology engineers possess skills that help them perform research and develop effective health products to treat and diagnose health issues.

Technical skills

A biotechnology engineer is required to be proficient in the following techniques:

  • Tissue culture: Tissue culture is a technique for studying cell biology from multicellular organisms. It is widely used in biochemical and medical research.

  • PCR: PCR is the acronym for a polymerase chain reaction. Biotechnology engineers use this technique in DNA sequencing and DNA cloning. Knowing PCR is important since it has numerous applications in modern biology, medical and research procedures.

  • Gel electrophoresis: It is a commonly used technique for separating proteins or nucleic acids based on their electrophoretic mobility. Being well-acquainted in this helps with research work.

  • Confocal microscopy: They use this technique to increase the optical resolution and contrast of a micrograph. This optical imagining technique helps engineers to study mechanisms of actions and cell signalling pathways.

  • Mass spectrometry: Biotech engineers use this technique to ionise chemical species and sort the ions based on their mass-to-charge ratio. It is one of the crucial analytical techniques for biological research.

  • Flow cytometry: It is a commonly used technique for investing the cell surface and intracellular molecules expression and distinguishing and interpreting different cell types in a heterogeneous cell population.

  • Western blot: Western blot is a molecular biology technique used for detecting and analysing proteins based on their binding ability to specific antibodies.

  • ELISA: ELISA is the acronym for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. This technique is used to detect the presence of a substance, generally an antigen such as peptides, proteins, antibodies and hormones, in a liquid or moist sample.

  • Molecular cloning: This technique groups recombinant DNA molecules and directs their replication inside host organisms. This widely used gene cloning technique is an essential skill for biotech engineers.

  • Cell-based assays: This technique helps study cellular mechanisms in the context of biology. Biotechnology engineers also use the cell-based assays technique to study the mechanism of action, drug potency, receptor binding and activation.

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Soft skills

The primary soft skills for biotechnology engineers are:

  • Management: Since biotechnology is a multidisciplinary field, having management skills can help professionals assist teams and monitor their progress. They are also responsible for managing ongoing changes in research and product specifications.

  • Research: Research and development is an important skill for biotechnology engineers. Having good research skills helps them in producing quantifiable results.

  • Analytical thinking: Having good analytical skills helps biotech engineers convey findings and arrive at accurate conclusions.

  • Problem-solving: While working in R and D, biotechnology engineers may face various new challenges, and problem-solving skills can help reach the right solutions.

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