The typical goal of a biotech consultant is to improve the production, researching, or development of an organization's biotechnology product. A consultant shares his or her knowledge in biotechnology and sometimes advises the organization on other areas of their expertise. The educational backgrounds of biotech consultants can show considerable variation. Advanced degrees in a business discipline, life science, or some form of healthcare can help acquire a job in this field.
Biotech consultants deal with varying working environments and goals from one organization to another. Biotechnology is used in agriculture processes, the development of new medicine, and providing energy to the masses. In agriculture, a biotech consultant might assist in improving and strengthening crop yields or aid in genetically engineering animals. Biotechnology in the healthcare industry can be used to create new vaccines to save lives. In addition, a biotech consultant's assistance in developing biologically-based fuels could mean less reliance on fossil fuels.
Consulting firms tend to have scientists or health professionals that specialize in a certain aspect of producing or selling biotechnology products. For example, in the United States, biomedical products must often meet strict and ever-changing Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements. Due to this, a biotech consultant might specialize in assisting organizations in meeting FDA regulations for a new drug.
Biotech consultants normally work in teams consisting of other outside consultants. The hiring organization usually contacts a firm that offers consulting services. Depending on the organization's situation, the biotech consultant works with consultants from his or her own firm or consultants from another firm. They also work alongside the organization's permanent employees. In some cases, individuals such as doctor of philosophy students and university professors offer consulting services for free as well, primarily for the experience.
The education of a biotech consultant usually consists of a bachelor’s degree, at the very least. Though few universities and colleges provide formal education in scientific consulting, degrees in many fields are suitable. It is also possible to enroll in programs that directly relate to this career, such as business and management, a biology-related discipline, or logistics. Some schools also may offer exposure to consulting firms for hands-on training during or immediately after completing a degree program.
A biotech consultant is rarely hired solely for his or her degree. Hiring organizations may also require experience in a certain field, strong analytical skills, and the ability to meet stringent deadlines. Some consulting firms train their consultants in leadership and time management and offer tuition assistance to make the firm more hireable. Even with an advanced degree and all required skills, extensive on-the-job training is sometimes necessary.