Biotechnology major Careers

Students in the United States take many convoluted and unnecessarily complicated paths when it comes to finding careers in biotechnology. If Universities and community colleges worked together, an alternative path could benefit all parties; students, schools, industry, and the community.

The image below illustrates the current paths and the approximate time that each one takes.

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I was at two meetings recently, one in Arizona and the Bio-Link workshop in Berkeley, where we spent time discussing the paths to careers in the biotech industry. You might think, if you consider the number of years in school to be important, that path D would be the most common path. But you would be wrong. Many of the students that might go straight to community college programs and directly into the workforce either opt for path A and end up on path B or somewhere along the line they miss out altogether and never think to consider that biotechnology or other science-related areas could lead to a good career.

I’m not sure what to do about science in the high schools, beyond trying to find better ways to educate, recruit, and support science teachers and fund science courses; but I do have some suggestions for colleges. First, though, lets consider why we have so many pathways and discuss some of the challenges with the pathways as they currently exist.

Path A High School -> University -> job
Many of our readers, other faculty, and other bloggers have pointed out that it’s not the mission of Universities to prepare students for jobs. I think that’s fine. Okay. Unfortunately, many high school students seem to miss seeing that information in the advertising brochures.

There are exceptions to this rule. In comment 18, Larry Rohde described a wonderful-sounding program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. I also know some private colleges that work with their students to help them find career paths afterward.

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