Well! When we talk about Biotechnology, mostly just don’t think about subject diversity and applied part but only about scope. To understand this, one must know the basic difference between classical subjects and biotechnology which basically in simple terms is Life for Life for the betterment and welfare of society. Biotechnology is just not one subject to deal with rather is a combination o f specialized medical based applied subjects viz: Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Immunology, Endocrinology, Industrial Microbiology, Industrial Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Food and Dairy Technology, Biostatistics, Genetic Engineering, Energy resources, Pharmaceuticals, Bioproducts. These are few names mentioned for your general Idea but the Good thing is that all subjects have their specific research labs to work with. We are not stuck in a syllabus of classical subjects, yes of course they are important too to have strong roots in studies and their respective areas. All competitive exams carry some part of classical subjects like Botany, Zoology, and chemistry etc., syllabus of Biotechnology carry also a good percentage of these subjects.
Is it the Right Career for Me?
Important traits for getting into this domain are a high degree of intelligence and a general aptitude for science and scientific applications.

Since biotechnology is redefining the boundaries of science, to become a part of such an innovative field you must posses an inherent attitude of originality and imagination. Other skills that will sail you through a successful and a fulfilling career in this path-breaking area are perseverance, immense patience, analytical proficiency, ability to work for long hours, team spirit and communication skills.
What would it Cost Me?
A typical course in biotechnology can annually cost you anywhere between Rs 20,000 to Rs 2,00,000 or above depending on the college you study.

Usually, government and regional colleges that select students through tough entrance exams charge less as compared to programs offered by private owned colleges.
Step By Step Process:
In opting for a specialized profession such as biotechnology, you must plan your career right from your school days. In this context, the combination of subjects of study at the 10+2 level must primarily include Biology, Chemistry, Physics and even Mathematics. Once you have finished schooling you can opt for a suitable undergraduate program (B.Sc, BE, BTech) in Biotechnology from various academic institutions spread across the country. The duration of a BSc program in biotechnology is three years whereas it is four years for BE and BTech courses.

The eligibility criterion for getting into an undergraduate program varies from one institution to another. In some colleges the eligibility criteria includes a 10+2 with 50% marks in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Mathematics. In some other institutions, the 10+2 pass percentage required is 55%. Whereas some colleges consider physics, chemistry and biology combination of subjects as a basic entry level qualification and others take into account the physics, chemistry and mathematics combination. Once this eligibility criterion is met, you can get admission in to BSc programs.

However, for many undergraduate courses in biotechnology you need to sit for common engineering entrance exams such as:
• The Joint Entrance Examination for IITs (IITJEE): for admission to various IITs
• All-India Engineering Entrance Exam (AIEEE): for admission to various National Institutes of Technology or regional engineering colleges

Other than these common entrance examinations, engineering institutions offering undergraduate programs conduct their own entrance examinations. The result of these entrances will allow you get admission to an undergraduate course in biotechnology in reputed engineering colleges.

Once you have earned a graduate degree in this field you can go for the master’s level (MSc, ME, MTech). For a Masters in Biotechnology, you should either have a graduate degree in biotechnology or in any subject that is related to biological sciences. A graduate degree in subjects such as biochemistry, biology, botany, chemistry, microbiology, pharmacy, veterinary sciences or zoology is acceptable for an entry into a post-graduate program in biotechnology.

Apart from undergraduate programs, many colleges and universities offer five and five-and-a-half year integrate programs (BTech/MTech) for students. It should be kept in mind that a post-graduate qualification in biotechnology is a must to enter the profitable and ever-expanding field of biotechnical applications.

As it is a blend of numerous disciplines, you have to do a specialisation in a number of fields. Some of the common areas of research include fields like: Agriculture and Agricultural Development, Animal Husbandry, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Botany, Dairy Technology, Environmental Protection, Fishery Development, Genetics, Horticulture, Medicine, Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Nutrition, Pharmacology, Tissue Culture and Zoology.

After post-graduation, CSIR Joint Entrance test with UGC awaits You For lecturership and Research Positions In CSIR Labs at National Level and then you can apply for a doctoral program and from then on if need be, immerse yourself in post-doctoral research. Here, it is important to point out that a majority of students prefer to do their PhD and post-doctoral research from foreign universities.
Plan Early
To follow biotechnology as a preferred profession, you must have a sound grounding in science from the early school days. You must have keen interest in various branches of science not just for study sake or for obtaining good grades. Rather, you must have a keen perception to understand scientific applications and even keep pace with the latest news from the scientific world.

Once you are through with 10+2, you must either opt for an undergraduate course in biotechnology or any subject that is directly or indirectly related to biological sciences. Remember a masters degree is a must to make a successful career in the domain of biotechnology.
Various academic institutions and universities offer scholarships to deserving students who perform extraordinarily in the entrance test and post-entrance interviews. However, easy loans are available from banks for students to pursue their academics. The money borrowed may be returned after a student gets a job.

For instance, State Bank of India, Allahabad Bank, State Bank of Mysore and Bank of Baroda are some popular banks that offer attractive loans to students. These loans include library fees, book purchases, travel expenses and often allow students to purchase computers, accessories and scientific instruments required to complete their work.
Careers In Biotechnology
Biotechnology assimilates in itself a number of disciplines. Further, there is a great demand for biotechnical experts in countless industries and sectors. The following are applications where biotechnological techniques are used extensively:
• Agriculture
• Animal Husbandry
• Environment Conservation
• Genetic Engineering
• Health Care
• Medicine
• Industrial Research and Development

Career opportunities for students in biotechnology abound. Those specialising in different sub-disciplines of this field can easily find jobs in both private and government sector undertakings. If you have acquired a post-graduate degree in biotechnology then you can easily find a suitable position in a number of industries.

Major recruiters include industries engaged in processing and developing agricultural and biological products, bio-processing industries, pharmaceutical and chemical industries. There are ample opportunities in industries producing healthcare products, textile industry, cosmetics and organisations engaged in different types of industrial research and development.

These days a growing number of qualified biotechnical professionals are engaged by different industries for environment protection activities and for the safe disposal of hazardous materials.

Package Offered
Like any other job profile, the pay packet largely depends on your academic qualification, your area of specialisation and the institution from where you have earned your degree. Fresh graduates in this field can generally bag a monthly salary in the range of Rs 8,000 to Rs 20,000.

It has been observed that candidates with a Masters degree in Biotechnology get a better starting salary as compared with students who just have a graduate degree in this field. With an increase in the level of experience, there is abundant scope for getting fatter pay cheques in this exciting and inspiring profession.


Author: Dr. Megha Sharma