You'll spend several hours peering at wriggly objects through a microscope.
And it may take a while for your nose to get used to all the chemical smells
in the lab. But as a biotechnology major, you'll learn a lot about science
and the awesome power humans have over nature.
Biotechnology involves tinkering with living things in order to produce
needed or beneficial products or results. These could be better crops or more
powerful drugs or cures for diseases. Most graduates work in labs.
Some universities offer bachelor's degrees in biotechnology. They
take between three and five years.
However, in several cases, students major in a related field, like biology.
They then choose courses to prepare them for biotechnology careers. That's
because biotechnology is more of a real-life career field than an academic
area of specialization.
There are graduate programs for those who want to deepen their knowledge,
get involved in high-level research or teach.
"The typical student comes in from high school with courses in biology,
chemistry, mathematics and physics," says Bert Holland. He is the director
of a biotechnology program. "It's a regular science admission profile. Students
actually don't take any specific biotechnology courses until year two."
Dorothy Sweeney is the associate director of Penn State University's biotechnology
institute. She says her school looks for high standardized test scores
and a proven track record of interest in life sciences.
The most important courses and extracurricular clubs to focus on would
revolve around math and science. Computer literacy is definitely key
to this field as well.
In addition, Sweeney says science reporting or writing in high school,
membership in science honor societies or professional organizations and volunteerism
Some of the courses you may take in an undergraduate biotechnology degree
program could include introductory biology, cell biology, general botany,
organic chemistry and calculus.
Other common courses are environmental education, pharmacology, virology
and microbiology. Programs may include an internship.
Students don't need to have their own lab equipment or scientific materials.
These are generally provided in labs. Public computers are also available.
But it is always useful to own one.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Find more information related to the Biotechnology field of study.
Biomedicine and Biotechnology at About.com
Your online guide to biotech
BIO: the Biotechnology Industry Organization
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