Biotechnology is an interdisciplinary science including not only biology, but also subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering. It is a blend of various technologies applied together to living cells for production of a particular product or for improving upon it. Its use and application ranges from fields like agriculture to industry (food, pharmaceutical, chemical, bioproducts, textiles etc.), medicine, nutrition, environmental conservation, animal sciences etc. making it one of the fastest growing fields. The work is generally carried out in the laboratories, as it is a scientific research oriented field.
Nature of Work
The nature of work of biotechnologists, being interdisciplinary, requires working together of people from different fields such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology, immunology, genetics, engineering, food science, agriculture etc. Some of the fields where biotechnology studies are applicable are as follows.
Medicine and Health Care
Biotechnology's application in this area has helped in the development of various medicines, vaccines and diagnostics. The remarkable development work carried out by biotechnologists in this field has led to improvement in the methods of diagnosis, medicines and vaccinations for diseases which once thought were incurable are no more a cause of worry, which has been a blessing for humankind.
Industrial Research & Development
Both the government and the private sector employ biotechnologists. They conduct research and development work, for increasing productivity, improving energy production and conservation, minimizing pollution and industrial waste etc. Biotechnologists also find opportunities at places involving activities like chemical processes, genetic engineering, textile development, cosmetic development etc..
Agriculture and Animal Husbandry
Indian economy is very much dependent on agriculture and biotechnologists have made major advancements in this area. Over the years, the agricultural output has been improving, owing to the improvements in the quality of seeds, insecticides and fertilizers. The latest technologies like micro propagation and tissue culture has further helped agriculturists to overcome problems like soil imbalances, genetic breeding and crop diseases. Biotechnologists are also encouraging a shift from chemically prepared fertilizers and insecticides to biochemicals and bioinsecticides.
Biotechnology's intervention in the area of animal husbandry has improved animal breeding. Numerous kinds of genetically engineered, high yielding animal breeds have come up which has increased the output of dairy products as well as the meat products. India has in fact, become the largest milk producer in the world
Environmental biotechnology has become another area of extensive work due to the dangers brought about by increasing levels of environmental pollution. A lot of hard work is being done to protect our environment. In this field, the job of a biotechnologist spans from checking industrial air pollution levels, treatment of industrial waste to recycling of sewage sludge..
As the work is largely related to scientific research. It becomes quite important to have a good academic background in science. Hard work and high level of intelligence with a scientific bent of mind, determination, perseverance, imagination, innovative attitude, ability to work for long hours, originality, team spirit are some important essentials for becoming a successful biotechnologist.
Candidates having background in science at the intermediate level can take up B.Tech. programme in Biotechnology. P.G. courses available are M.Sc. Biotechnology, M.Sc. (Agriculture) Biotechnology, M.V.Sc. (Animal) Biotechnology, M.Tech. Biotechnology, M.Sc./M.V.Sc. in Veterinary Biotechnology, M.Sc. (Marine) Biotechnology, Medical Biotechnology, M.Tech. in Biomedical Engineering/Biotechnology. Depending upon the aptitude and necessity, more advanced courses such PH.D. and Post-DoctoralResearch in Biotechnology can also be pursued.
Being an interdisciplinary subject with diverse areas of study, biotechnological procedures apply themselves to a wide range of fields allowing students from different backgrounds and interests to specialize in fields of their choice. Some of the fields of specialization are Molecular Biology, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Botany, Zoology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Horticulture, TissueCulture, AgriculturalEngineering, Animal Sciences, Dairy Technology, Fisheries, Medicine,Life Sciences, and Genetics
In recent times, biotechnology as a subject has grown rapidly. And as far as employment is concerned, it has become the second fastest growing sector after multi-media. Candidates with postgraduate degree in biotechnology get absorbed in corporate and government sector, both. Qualified biotechnologists are employed in leading Indian business houses and MNCs including pharmaceutical companies, chemical industries, bio-processing industries, agriculture related industries and pollution control activities of the major industries etc. They can even join government and corporate run research and development organizations. On the whole making it a good career opportunity for the bright young people.
Remuneration very much depends upon academic qualification, institute or university from which the degree is attained and the level of work experience. In the corporate sector, fresh IIT pass outs may get anything in the range of Rs. 70,000 p.a. to Rs. 85,000 p.a. and fresh B.Sc./B. Tech. graduates from other universities may get anything in the range of Rs. 50,000 p.a. to Rs. 70,000 p.a. Those working in the research institutes can expect something around Rs. 60,000 p.a.