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Biotech or biomedicine

  1. Feb 26, 2014 #1
    So I want to get into biology question is which one? Either biotech or biomedicine. Which one would you choose and why?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2014 #2


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    Those are fairly broad terms. Are you deciding between two specific programs? If so, it might help to summarize the details of each.

    If you're interested in biology, start out with a general biology degree in undergrad. I would avoid specializing too much. With a more general program you have the option of pursuing the courses that interest you the most without locking yourself into one direction or another too early. You make the decision to specialize when it's time to go to graduate school and in that case you can make the decision about what field to pursue by the specific problems you're interested in working on along with some weight on the career outlooks associated with pursuing those problems.
  4. Feb 26, 2014 #3
    Chemical engineering. ChemE is a much more employable degree than anything related to bio or biomedical sciences. If you want to pursue blog later you still can with a ChemE degree.

    There are many, many scientists, these days, including myself, that have gotten burned by biomedical science in terms of jobs, employment, and general overall outlook. It is simply not a healthy career for the long foreseeable future. Academia is also quite bad. The sequester doesn't really sink in until it hits your lab. The PIs in this department are the best in the world at a top rated institution. If they're struggling to keep on the lights for many of their labs, it has to be 10x worse at other schools and departments. Many Phds in biomedical sciences, If they choose to stay in academia, will be relegated to a never ending gig of low paying post docs, holding out hope for an academia position that doesn't exist or one that will literally have 300 applicants.
  5. Feb 26, 2014 #4


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    I agree with you about the research environment, either in pharma or in academia, but disagree with you about employment prospects with respect to chemical engineering.

    The thing about chemical engineering is that the only employers that I can think of that hire them are the following:

    (1) oil & gas companies
    (2) pharmaceutical firms
    (3) environmental firms/organizations (including waste water management)
    (4) possibly those in materials science

    (1) is currently booming now, but is subject to severe boom/bust cycles.
    (2), as far as I know, is not hiring that many chem engineers, and positions are subject to outsourcing.
    Neither (3) or (4) is hiring that many chemical engineers.

    To the OP:

    If you are intent on pursuing a biology degree, I would follow Choppy's advice and not specialize too much in your undergraduate study. A general biology is a good introductory background to pursue future studies in medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine or (if combined with studies in chemistry), pharmacy. All of these fields are currently in major demand and provide stable employment.
  6. Feb 26, 2014 #5


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  7. Feb 26, 2014 #6
    This helps a lot, thank you every one!
  8. Feb 26, 2014 #7
    ChemEs are widely employed in manufacturing. Chemical engineering overlaps with manufacturing engineering and process engineering. You can find details for the US here. Other countries should have similar employment statistics.
  9. Feb 26, 2014 #8
    If you intend to get a career in biology, you will need a PhD. Keep in mind however, jobs in academia are even more scarce, and life science postdocs have among the lowest salaries for postdocs in general.

    While we're on the subject - how active is research in Chemical Engineering? How do chemE's with PhDs fare, and where can they find employment?
  10. Feb 26, 2014 #9
    Thank you for the info! :) now one last question which college has the best biology programs/labs?
  11. Feb 26, 2014 #10


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    Ben, you are right, I forgot to include chemical industries and pulp & paper firms (I included gasoline, synthetic rubber and plastics under oil & gas, since those products are manufactured based on petroleum).

    As far as the BLS numbers below, I recognize that chemical engineers earn a very high salary. However, it's not certain if the employers of chemical engineers are hiring that many new people (or whether there are new opening for such positions) outside of the oil & gas sector. So my basic point still stands.
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