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Salary for Biotech Jobs

Updated on June 1, 2012

Science Job Salaries Vary Immensely

Biotechnology careers have many different pay levels - pay depends on education, experience, and skill set, along with geographical location.
Biotechnology careers have many different pay levels - pay depends on education, experience, and skill set, along with geographical location. | Source

Salary for Biotech Jobs

Wages earned in the biotechnology field vary considerably, depending on the skill set and amount of education required for a specific position. Low earning positions typically require limited amounts of experience and do not require a college degree. Conversely, high earning positions typically require advanced degrees and extensive experience in management, research, or other high level skills.

Wages also vary considerably throughout the United States. Established wages in known biotechnology corridors (San Diego, California and Raleigh, North Carolina, e.g.) will be higher than salaries in rural areas with few competing businesses. As an example of this phenomenon, the author of this article worked for a company in Ventura, California that offered a starting salary of $20 per hour for a manufacturing chemist (4 year degree requirement). The same position in rural NY offered a starting salary of $10 per hour – half the wage of the former location! After adjusting for college loan repayments, the position in rural NY netted a new college graduate less than minimum wage. For higher level biotechnology positions, a job candidate may need to consider moving to a more lucrative area of the country.

Low Earning Jobs in the Biotech Field

A manufacturing technician prepares a machine to coat microtiter plates.
A manufacturing technician prepares a machine to coat microtiter plates. | Source

Glasswashers May Operate Cleaning Equipment

Low Earning Jobs: $10,000 - $30,000 Per Year

Product Assembly/Labeling Technician – average salary: $25,000 per year.

This position involves the assembly of packaging for kits and the application of labels to vials, bottles, and kit boxes. This position is sometimes filled through temporary employment agencies. The technician will have to operate equipment which prints labels, and then apply the labels to the vials (either by hand or through the use of labeling equipment). Kit assembly and product labeling are performed under direct supervision and all work is done according to written protocols.

Glasswasher – average salary: $25,000 per year.

A dishwasher or glassware washer will earn a relatively low annual income. This position requires the employee to collect and clean all labware used in the company’s labs. A glasswasher must handle biohazardous materials, operate autoclaves to sterilize equipment, and may be exposed to toxic chemicals. Laboratory dishwashers follow strict cleaning protocols and are under the direction of a supervisor.

Educational Requirements: high school diploma and 0-2 Years Experience

Manufacturing Technician I – average salary $29,000 per year.

A manufacturing technician follows written procedures to assemble products or operate laboratory equipment. A manufacturing technician may operate equipment to fill bottles with product, run equipment designed to coat microtiter plates, or assemble lab testing equipment following a blueprint. This position is under direct supervision and requires a high school diploma and 0-3 years of experience.

Middle Level Science Jobs

A manufacturing chemist will formulate products, buffers, and may operate equipment like this lyophilizer (freeze-dryer).
A manufacturing chemist will formulate products, buffers, and may operate equipment like this lyophilizer (freeze-dryer). | Source

Middle Level Biotech Jobs: $30,000-$50,000 Per Year

Entry level quality assurance associates, biologists, and quality control (Q.C.) inspectors fill this wage level in the biotech field. Job descriptions for this level position include:

Microbiologist I - average salary: $41,000 per year.

This position typically requires a bachelor's degree and 0-2 years of experience. A microbiologist will isolate, identify, and work with bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms. Knowledge of current good manufacturing processes (cGMP) is required, along with the ability to follow written procedures. This position reports to a supervisor and may include testing products for contamination, routine water system inspection, and more.

Statistician I - average salary: $46,000 per year

A statistician will write reports, compile data, and interpret the significance of various data sets. Knowledge of software, including but not limited to Excel, and a four year degree are required for this position. As this is an entry-level position, only 0-2 years of experience are required.

Research and Development Associate I - average salary: $45,000 per year

This level position will execute experimental protocols developed by a supervisor, compile technical reports, and collect and analyze data. This position is under direct supervision and does not require or (in general) allow for the employee to independently alter the existing protocols. A bachelor's degree is required, with 0-2 years of experience.

Upper-Middle Level Science Position

A chemist reads a DNA profile: a biochemist with some laboratory experience could command over $55,000 per year (on average).
A chemist reads a DNA profile: a biochemist with some laboratory experience could command over $55,000 per year (on average). | Source

Upper-Middle Biotech Jobs: $50,000-$80,000 Per Year

Job levels earning an average salary of $50,000 - $80,000 per year typically require a bachelor's degree and a few years of experience. Careers with this earning potential may involve some supervision of other employees.

Chemist II - average salary: $56,000 per year.

Requiring 2-4 years of experience in addition to a four-year degree, this position works under the general supervision of a manager. The employee is expected to exercise some independent judgment and may supervise subordinates in the lab.

Medical Writer I - average salary: $57,000 per year.

A medical writer will summarize and prepare data from clinical trials and write reports for submission to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Writing, editing, and data compilation are all a part of this position, which requires a bachelor's degree and 0-2 years of experience.

Biologist II - average salary: $52,000 per year.

A biologist will study the effect of various environmental and laboratory-induced effects to plant and animal life. This level position requires 2-4 years of experience in addition to a bachelor's degree: while job duties are performed under supervision, creativity and problem-solving abilities are expected.

Microbiologist Career Profile

High Level Biotechnology Jobs: $80,000-$100,000 Per Year

These positions typically require a master's degree or greater, or a bachelor's degree with extensive experience in the related field. Samples of high level jobs include:

Consultant Chemist - average salary $98,00 per year.

This position requires an advanced degree and a decade of experience in the field. A chemist at this level is expected to strategize and execute a plan to obtain the company's desired goals. A consultant chemist may supervise subordinates and generally reports to the director of their department.

Patent Agent II - average salary $84,000 per year.

A patent agent will draft and submit patent applications, and will work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Internally, the patent department works with the product development team and the legal department when preparing filings. This position requires a bachelor's degree and 2-5 years of experience.

Regulatory Affairs Specialist III - average salary $82,000 per year.

This position will write procedures to ensure compliance to governmental regulations, in addition to handling government audits and inspections of the work place. This position will work frequently with the FDA and other governmental agencies (including ISO, the Candian Medical Board, and others). This position typically requires a master's degree and at least 5 years of experience in the field.

Medical Directors May Work for Insurance Companies

Executive Level Biotech Jobs: >$100,000 Per Year

The highest income level in the biotech field requires advanced degrees (including M.D., M.B.A., and Ph.D. degrees) in addition to extensive experience in the respective fields. These positions are all at the Director or Executive level. A sample of jobs that fit this category includes:

Medical Director - average salary $220,000 per year.

This position requires a degree in medicine and will oversee a company's medical programs, policies, and content published in marketing materials. This is a high level position requiring at least 15 years of experience, an extremely high skill level set, and the ability to interact with and multiple departments to plan and execute company goals.

Business Development Manager - average salary $105,000 per year.

A Business Development Manager typically has a Masters of Business Administration degree and 3-5 years of experience in the field. This position evaluates acquisitions, mergers, and collaborative agreements to further the company's opportunities for growth. This position requires the ability to manage teams and the ability to create and execute strategies to meet the company's goals.

Biostatistician III - average salary: $118,000 per year.

This level of statistician will write the statistics portion of clinical trial reports, create specifications, and will communicate with those outside of the company on issues regarding problems with statistical data. This position requires a master's degree or Ph.D. with at least 5 years of experience. This level is expected to manage the work of others within the department.


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    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      Ironically, the increase of automation has not adversely affected the job opportunities for the positions that require a degree - the experimental design, compounding, adjustment of sensitive enzymes, etc. still require fast thinking and a human touch. Unfortunately, there will be jobs lost on the filling and labeling front, as machinery can completely eliminate those positions in many companies.

      It would be wise to select a position that cannot be easily outsourced or taken over by machinery: regulatory affairs is a job position that isn't going to disappear any time soon, and would be a great career direction for a new college grad.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 

      6 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      To what degree will automation of laboratories decrease these job opportunities?

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