By Harvey Yau
Are you currently enrolled in a life science certificate program or pursuing an associate degree in biotechnology?
you are, then you stand a good chance of finding employment after
graduation—even with an entry-level degree. Here’s why: According to
research by BioSpace, starting positions in life science—those requiring
up to two years of experience—made up almost a quarter of all job
listings in 2016.
In the past, companies usually hired life
science talent with four-year degrees for starting positions. However,
once these employees have gained sufficient experience, they often leave
for higher-level positions. This is frustrating for employers that have
invested considerable time and resources in training them—and it’s
prompting them to redirect their recruitment efforts towards a different
kind of candidate: those with entry-level degrees.
approximately 100 community colleges across the country, students can
earn either a certificate or an associate degree in biotechnology. These
programs last between 18 months and two years, so they’re relatively
quick to complete. A biotechnology certificate program is a general
introduction into the field. A typical curriculum will teach students
basic knowledge of biotechnology, biological computation, and
manufacturing practices, as well as drug design and targeting. Associate
programs provide more in-depth training in competencies such as good
manufacturing practice (GMP) documentation, environmental monitoring,
What’s so important to understand is that in
recent years, many community colleges have started to focus their
efforts on making their life science courses more practical so their
graduates are more employable.
Every year, these schools approach
employers and industry specialists to find out what their current needs
are in terms of skills and equipment training. For example, I’m on an
advisory board with other life science industry leaders that advises the
life science department at my local community college on curriculum
development. Based on our insights and recommendations, the school
creates practical programs that provide hands-on training in the skills
and equipment currently needed in the industry.
If you invest in
your career and enroll at one of these community colleges, you’ll
graduate with current, marketable skills that employers are looking for.
It’s a faster way to become productive and earn a salary. It also
allows you to put your degree to work without incurring anywhere near
the amount of debt you would for a four-year degree.
At the same
time, if you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field but
you’re interested in making the move to life sciences, then you can gain
practical skills by enrolling in an 18-month certificate program.
experiencing the high turnover of candidates with four-year degrees,
many employers appreciate the maturity of candidates from community
colleges. And since employers are looking to retain employees for the
long term, they’re more than willing to invest in additional training
that will help both their employees and their companies advance.
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