The applications of Biotechnology are vast . On one hand, it caters to the industrial sector such as food and beverages industry, textiles industry, biological products, medicines and pharmaceuticals while on the other hand this branch of science caters to the requirements of agriculture, animal husbandry, nutrition and environmental conservation. The list is a long and an envious one.

In opting for a specialised 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 (BSc, 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, 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.

Cost

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.

Job Prospects

 Biotechnology assimilates in itself a number of disciplines. Further, there is a great demand for bio technical 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.

 Pay Packet

Like any other job profile, the pay packet largely depends on your academic qualification, your area of specialization 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.