Jobs after MS in Biomedical Engineering, biotechnology, life sciences in USA

Our friend Tanmoy Ray, who published the highly popular articles on Biomedical Science Jobs and Careers and PhD in Biomedical / Biological / Life Sciences, is back with another post. He writes on how to improve your chances of getting a job after completing an MS in biotechnology, biomedical engineering and life sciences in the U.S.


 

Jobs after MS in Biotechnology, Life Sciences or Biomedical Engineering in USA

How to increase your job opportunities after completing your masters

By Tanmoy Ray

 
We all know that the US is by far the most dominant player in the biotechnology and biomedical field in terms of research and innovation. With more than 3,000 colleges and universities in the US, the options are almost limitless (and sometimes even confusing).

There are hundreds of universities that offer good quality Master’s programs in biotechnology and biomedical streams.Studying abroad is a significant investment for the majority of international and Indian students.

Hence, you need to think about return on investment apart from quality education. After all, a Master’s degree is the foundation stone for your immediate goal – getting a job (or a PhD) and long-term career. So, how to choose the right universities for improving to improve your job opportunities after graduation?
 

Pay Attention to the Location of the University

Few people might argue that the location of your university doesn’t matter as long as the quality of education and training is good. Few people might also tell you that the location does matter. You might not enjoy studying in a busy city with high rise buildings and skyscrapers if you are of quite nature, and hate busy urban environments. Similarly, if you prefer access to entertainment and urban facilities close to your location, you will get bored (and may be depressed) while living in a small university town.

All the above points are well and valid. What I would like to recommend is that if you are going to study biotechnology, biomedical science or engineering abroad, you must pay attention to the location of your university.

Life and biological sciences domain is an extremely practical-oriented one. You do need to have a solid understanding of the fundamental concepts. But, the practical skills and technicalities are equally important. Now, you must be wondering how the location has a role to play in that.

While making the university list, the majority of students (and parents) focus on rankings, departmental profile & reputation, tuition fees and living expenses and other popular factors. But, for biotechnology and biomedical students, it’s only wise if you choose a university close to a biotech hub (also known as biotech cluster). In the US, there are around quite a few known biotech clusters out there. I will be covering top two ones in this post.
 

Biotech-Life Sciences Cluster (Hubs) in the USA

 

San Francisco Bay Area (California)

The San Francisco Bay Area has been a key hub for the biotechnology and life sciences industry for a long time. In general, the whole Northern California region hosts several biotechnology and life science companies and start-ups. But, the San Francisco area deserves special mention. San Francisco is considered to be the birthplace of the modern biotech industry. The San Francisco Bay Area hosts some of the top tier universities that include Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, and USF.

But, more importantly, the biotechnology and life science sector in the Bay Area hosts more than 1,400 life science and biotech companies attracts $2.67 billion of VC funding (2016 data by Bloomberg), NIH grants of around $1.2 billion (500 million goes to the companies in the region), 300,000 jobs (across all functions), yields around $95 billion annually in economic activity, close to $30 billion in income (sales revenue), and more than 9,500 patents. The region also hosts top shot companies like BioMarin Pharmaceutical, Genentech, Novartis, Bayer, and Gilead Sciences to name a few.


Image Source: sfced.org

The average annual pay of biotech professionals in the whole California region (including San Francisco) is around $76,000. For the biotech employees in the San Francisco Bay Area, the average annual salary is $97,000. So, as you can see, you can earn $21,000 more if you are employed in the Bay Area (and that’s quite a significant amount).
 

Boston – Cambridge Belt (Massachusetts)

The Boston-Cambridge region, also known as the Life Sciences Corridor (LSC), hosts around 450 life sciences and biotech companies. The region is one of the most prolific biotech-pharmahubs in the world. The LSC receives NIH funding of $519 million, $2 billion of VC funding (2016 data by Bloomberg), employs 57,000 biotech-pharma professionals and produces around 5,000 patents.

The region is the home to some of the most prestigious institutes like Harvard & MIT, and also hosts top bio-pharma companies including Merck, Sanofi, Pfizer, Biogen-Idec, Johnson & Johnson, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Glaxo Smith Klein, Boston Scientific, Haemonetics, and Novartis. The region also ranked no. 1 on GEN’s Top 10 Biopharma Cluster List in 2016.


Image Source: sfced.org

Few such other top bio-pharma clusters in the US are New York/New Jersey, San Diego (also known as Biotechnology Beach), Seattle, Maryland/DC Metro, Raleigh-Durham, Greater Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Chicago. However, LSC and the Bay Area host the largest concentration of biotech and life science companies and activities in the world. Nearly half of all US biotech investment is made in these regions, and approximately 1/3rd of US biotechnology employees work in these two clusters.
 

Advantage of studying at a University in the vicinity of a Biotech Hub or Cluster

I assume it’s a no-brainer for anyone. First of all, more often than not, the University will have close collaboration with the spin-out companies and start-ups (that’s how it works in the real bio-pharma world). So, access to the companies and working on a couple of commercial projects will help you a lot in the long-term. At the end of the day, the start-ups are looking for free/cheap labour to get their work done. Besides, opportunities of doing a full-fledged internship and landing up with a full-time job after graduation are also very high.

The biotech-pharma clusters contribute a lot to the biomedical and biotechnology research by attracting funds, proximity to the leading research-based universities and availability of talent pool. So, in reality, even these clusters need you.

Obviously it would be anybody’s dream to study at the big brands like Harvard, MIT, UCB, or Stanford. But, even if you don’t have the profile, or somehow don’t end up in those institutes, don’t lose heart. I would strongly recommend to universities in those clusters eve without a big brand.

Here are few universities that are really strong in biotechnology and biomedical engineering even though they don’t possess the brand power like Ivy League and other Elite Universities:

  • University of San Francisco, UC Santa Barbara, California State Polytechnic University, California State University – Los Angeles, California State University – Fullerton in the Bay Area
  • UC San Diego, California State University-San Marcos in San Diego
  • Boston University, UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, Northeastern University, Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Boston-Cambridge corridor (LSC)
  • Rockefeller University, Stony Brook University, Rochester University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rochester Institute of Technology, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Albany, Rutgers (New Brunswick) in New York/New Jersey

 

A few quick tips

The Boston-Cambridge corridor concentrates more on core biotechnology and pharmaceutical drug research & development. In contrast, the Bay Area has got a broader research base in biotechnology and life sciences. You will find more opportunities in biomedical engineering and medical devices if you are in the Bay Area.

As a Masters graduate, it’s better to target LSC, Bay Area, San Diego, New York/New Jersey, and Los Angeles. Clusters like Greater Philadelphia, DC Metro, Seattle, and Chicago host regulatory bodies and academic research institutes [Federal Drug Administration (FDA), National Institute on Health (NIH), US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP), Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research, and Walter Reed in Maryland/DC Metro] or early-stage start-ups. Hence, the majority of positions are for PhD graduates and post-doctoral scientists.

Stay updated with the recent news in the academia and industry. Seattle has been struggling of late after few investors backed out in 2015. Biotech investments dropped in Washington in 2016 to the lowest levels. However, there have been few recent developments through new accelerator collaboration and convergence of other technology industries in the region. On the other hand, UMass Amherst is eyeing a life sciences cluster from scratch with a major focus on drug delivery, therapeutic targeting and personalized health monitoring. This will not only help you to choose the right university, but also provide you ammunition for your Statement of Purpose for Masters Applications.
 

Check if the Master’s Program Covers Business & Commercialization Modules

If you want to go for PhD straightaway after finishing your MS, then you can concentrate on the programs that are more focussed towards academics, research and thesis work. Otherwise, it’s really important to get exposed to the business and commercialization world during your Master’s program.
 

Why do you need exposure to business and commercialization to thrive in the biotech and life sciences sector?

After information technology, biotechnology and life science are increasingly recognized as the next wave in the knowledge-based economy. Within the biotechnology sector, the protection of intellectual property and commercialization of the research is the core of the business. The increase in the number of patents in the life sciences and biotechnology is primarily due to the importance given by the sector to the intellectual property, and particularly patents.

The biotech & life sciences domain is largely a research-intensive industry. It can also be described as a product-based sector, and not necessarily a service-based one (except the Diagnostics Vertical). In comparison to the other industries, the biotech industry invests a higher proportion (40 – 50%) of the revenues in the R&D activities (on an average, 5% in Chemical industry, and 13% in pharmaceutical manufacturing industry). So, for such a research-based industry with so much investment at stake, the protection of the research outcomes is a very critical issue.

Secondly, the discoveries of new products and methods (or processes) are very expensive. But, copying those discoveries (imitations, reverse engineering and generic drugs) are relatively very cheap. So, the conducting biotechnology research is not only expensive, but very risky as well. It is also tough to predict if several years of research is going to lead to any breakthrough innovation with a great market demand (and earning revenues).

Thirdly, in the other sectors, usually there is a clear distinction between the basic research (doing by universities and academic or public sector R&D institutes) and applied research (by private sector). But, in the life sciences and biotechnology domain, basic and applied research is extremely inter-linked. In the majority of cases, the research activities at the universities and academic research institutes are the basis for the spin-off companies. Likewise, the biotech companies are often actively involved in the basic research. Read about Translational Research to understand more about this.

Image Source: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2452302X17300529

Finally, the majority of spin-offs and start-ups in the biotech segment are comparatively very new, with not a very huge team like big companies. In order to maximize output, they partner with universities and research institutes to initiate the research work. Once the final product is ready, they patent them, and license the product (or process) to big pharma-biotech companies. The big companies obviously possess more resources to launch the product in the market. So, apparently, the spin-offs and start-ups are not selling any product. But, they make money by developing, protecting and licensing their research and innovations.

Hence, it’s very critical for the interns and employees at those companies to understand the process in and out. Additionally, they want a workforce that can not only come up with ideas and/or perform research, but can commercialize the ideas and see through the innovation from conceptualization to completion.
 

Quick Tips

Target the Master’s programs with a substantial focus on Biotech Commercialization, Market Research & Analysis, Product Development & Management, Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property& Patent Laws, Regulatory Affairs, Business Development, and Entrepreneurship. Focus on developing skills that can help you to see the “big picture” of life science & biotechnology product development and commercialization.

Pursue programs like Professional Science Master’s (PSM) or Master of Business and Sciences (MBS). Usually, these programs couple research in molecular biology, biotechnology and life sciences with business fundamentals and industrial applications. Additionally, they also offer a Capstone project to all admitted students. Unlike traditional MS programs, PSM or MBS degree will not act as a bridge to a PhD program. But, that doesn’t mean you will be ineligible for undertaking PhD research after your Master’s degree.

Related Posts:

MBA in Europe after MS in Biotech Management from USA

An Emerging Model for Life Sciences Commercialization
 

In the contemporary biotechnology and life sciences industry, it’s not good enough to possess theoretical concepts and technical skill set. You must acquire strong business, commercialization and technology transfer skills in order to be successful in the job market.

 
So, what do you think about choosing the right universities for Master’s in Biotechnology , Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering on the basis of being located close to a biotech cluster and business & commercialization modules? Please post your feedback or queries in the comments below.
 
Jobs after MS in biomedical engineering, biotechnology, life sciences in USAAuthor Bio: Tanmoy Ray (connect with him on LinkedIn) has a Molecular Pharmacology background with 5 years of research experience in the fields of Cardiovascular Medicine, Cancer Biology, Biomarkers and Drug Discovery.

He has worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands) and University of New South Wales (Australia). If you are interested in a PhD in Biomedical/Biological/Life Sciences, post your queries in the comments below.


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26 Comments

  1. Majid Murtaza Noor says:

    Dear,
    Give me details for PhD in Biomedical Engineering

  2. Kalpana says:

    I have completed my bsc in food and dietetics,i am not interested in working as a Dietitian in future in hospitals.
    I want to pursue masters in food and quality control,so is it recommendable to study abroad for thd Same.
    As settling down abroad is not in my plans as of now.
    Please help me.

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Kalpana,

      If you are looking for a good Masters program with industry relevance, study abroad would be a good option.

      Since you have got a B.Sc. degree, which is likely to be a 3-year program, explore the European destinations – UK, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark for MSc degree.
      Let me know if you need further help.

  3. Neeti says:

    Sir I had done M.sc (biomedical science) but I don’t have any job. Where I will try to get job. Sir can I teach in any college’s and institute.

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Neeti,

      You can definitely explore the teaching jobs.

      If you are looking for industrial jobs, try the following steps (in the following order of preference):
      – relocate to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Chennai
      – sign up for industrial training courses (paid ones) that are at least 2 – 3 months in duration
      – reach out to your alumni and recruiters on LinkedIn and other channels
      – approach a career counselor in your domain

      Hope this helps.

  4. Yashwardhan says:

    I am in the final year of chemical engineering.. I am not sure what I should do after graduation. I already have been placed in deloitte USI. But I am not sure if I should pursue an MS in biomedical engineering ( I have some interest in it but not a lot also) or if I should work for an year or two and try for MBA in India or abroad later. I feel MBA would be better for me but everyone is telling me that I should go for an MS in US first and then do an MBA later after working for a few years after my MS. The only problem is I am not extremely keen in making a career in research.

    I am not sure what should I do? Should I go for the MS in US directly after my undergrad and do an MBA after that or should I work in deloitte for a few years and then decide what to do?

    Please help.

    Thanks :)

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Yashwardhan,

      If you are not too keen on research, I would suggest you skip the MS plan. Of course, MS doesn’t involve PhD-level research. But, you will still need to work on a research project for your thesis.

      You are already holding a good job offer. Go ahead and work for few years. You can then take a call between MS or MBA.

      If you still face any dilemma, do come back on MCB :)

  5. Misaal says:

    hello Sir,
    This is a very informative post.
    I am a Btech Biotechnology 3rd year student from India and aiming for my masters and I’m interested in product oriented research .
    Can you please guide me regarding the stream of Masters that I should choose so that my options for job stay wide and open.
    Also, what would be some economical choices of universities which may provide some financial aid.

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Misaal,

      Regarding the stream of Masters that you should choose: if you are interested in product-oriented research, Biomarker-based Diagnostics would be a good vertical. If you come up with an excellent diagnostic kit, you can earn royalty by commercializing in-house (University Medical Centers) and/or Licensing to Pharmaceutical (or Large Biotech) companies.

      What would be some economical choices of universities which may provide some financial aid: it would be little hard to comment on a list of colleges here. If you need help with a personalized list, feel free to get in touch. I will be happy to help.

  6. naina tyagi says:

    Hi buddy,
    I have done M.sc in Biotechnology and willing to do job in the same field from Australia. I have applied for P.R of australia with my husband which is going to take time. So as to avoid the gap can you suggest something that i can do for now. Recently i also did volunteering work in Cancer Epigenetics Biology lab from A.I.I.M.S , New Delhi. Is there a possibility to work in Victoria on e.o.i basis ?
    Thank you

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Naina,

      You could certainly take the EOI route. Additionally, you could utilize the time by taking any one of the following steps:

      Work as a Project Assistant
      Enrol in an industrial training or internship
      Sign up for online courses on Biotech Entrepreneurship, Cancer Genomics or Healthcare Data Analytics
      Work on your personal branding and online presence – it will help you to get a job quickly once you land in Australia.

      Let me know if you have got further queries.

  7. Shradha says:

    hello sir, I am a student pursuing my post graduation in Biotechnology. I am not very keen to get into research areas but confused between getting into industry or teaching and academics after my Masters in abroad. What are the eligibility criteria for that position and further proceedings and also could you list out some MNCs hiring freshers after M.Sc?

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Shradha,

      Firstly, any core industrial job (in the Biotech sector) will involve research (lab work). Otherwise, you could opt for other roles – Technical Sales, Analytics, IPR, Regulatory Affairs, or Medical Writing.

      Regarding the eligibility criteria for different positions, I would suggest you spending time on employers’ websites and LinkedIn profiles of the current employees (try to connect with few people).

      Regarding the list of MNCs – it’s a long list. You could consider companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific, Roche Diagnostics, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis etc.

      Let me know if you need further help or any personalized guidance.

  8. Lily says:

    Hello Sir. First of all,thank you for the post you have written. It was very informative and I learned a lot from it. I am planning to join M.S in Biomedical engineering this fall at University of Texas, Arlington. My undergraduate degree is Btech in Biotechnology. I have several doubts which I am sure you will be able to help me with 1) will my undergraduate degree be a problem while I search for a job in the US ?because I heard that companies tend to favour candidates with undergraduate degree in electronics , mechanical or electrical.
    2) since I am not attending an ivy league University (due to financial and other reasons)or other colleges near the biotech hubs you mentioned. what can I do to increase my chances of getting a job in the US after my M.S.

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Lily,

      It’s true that few companies prefer students with a background in Engineering for BME jobs. But, you can leverage your Biotech degree in other ways, say your expertise and the better understanding of human biology and diseases.

      In fact. sometimes it could be a positive thing. Companies need people from all backgrounds. If you are applying to a Biomedical or Medical Devices company, it’s likely that the majority of people will be from Engineering background. In such scenario, your Biotech background could be very attractive to such employers.

      Texas might not have a biotech cluster. But, there are 150 odd biotech companies in/around Texas. So, focus on approaching the right people at the right time and start your search well in advance.

      Hope this helps.

  9. Jai says:

    Hi Tanmay,

    Very informative post. My daughter who is currently in final year BE Biotechnology under University of Mumbai has got offers from NEU, University of Delaware and University of South Florida.

    She is not interested in pursuing PhD but would like to take up a job after her Masters. Which University should she chose and what are the prospects in US, Canada, Europe or India?

    Regards

    Jai R

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Jai,

      Commenting on this particular issue is beyond the scope here. Please feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn.

      Thanks.

  10. Ankit yadav says:

    Hello sir i am in final year of my msc biotechnology i am confused what should I do I want to work where should I apply how to apply can I get job in abroad

  11. swathi says:

    Hey,
    I’m swathi and I’m doing my undergrad course BE in Biotechnology. Currently I’m in my third year and i would like to do my MS in the states. Apart from giving the entrance exams like GRE and TOEFL should i give any other exam and also is it necessary to take up online courses on learning portals such as edx and coursera?
    thanks

  12. Manoj Pallod says:

    Hello Tanmay,
    I am Manoj Pallod. My son Shubham is final year B-tech (Biotechnology) student at IIT, Roorkee and now planning for MS/M-tech in Bio-Medical Engineering. He has applied 5-6 universities abroad, out of which he has received only one offer from Florida University. His GRE and Toffel score is also good. Is there any option for him to apply more Universities and seek possibility to complete his PG abroad. What’s the career prospect for him if he pursue his PG prgram in India in Bio-Medical Engineering. Kindly advise.

  13. mary says:

    HEY ,
    I am pursuing 3rd yr in biotechnology engineering. I am looking for engineering management courses, along with aming for psychology.can u suggest me some universities for low budget, tips , scholarships anything which would help me choose a course and also give me a insight

  14. Mansi Chawla says:

    Hi. I did BHMS (Homeopathy). Then worked in a clinical setting for 3.5yrs followed by MD (Homeopathy specializing in psychiatry). I m currently teaching in a medical college but wish to pursue an MBA in hospital administration.
    Please help

  15. Meagha C R says:

    Hello Tannoy,

    Your post was extremely helpful. I have received acceptance from LIU Brooklyn (M.S. biology), UMSL ( PSM biochem and biochemistry
    Tech) and CSU , fort collins( biochemistry). But I am extremely confused to make a decision. Kindly help me.

    Meagha

    • Tanmoy Ray says:

      Hi Meagha,

      Congrats on the offers.

      A personalized guidance on deciding the best-fit program is a little bit difficult here. Please feel free to connect on LinkedIn.

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