Biotechnologist Ringa Hangarau Koiora

Biotechnologists use their knowledge of living things to develop new animal or plant products such as medicines and pest-resistant crops. 

Biotechnologists may do some or all of the following:

  • study micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, yeast, and their enzymes 
  • study the genetic make-up of plants, animals, humans and micro-organisms
  • develop and test methods of making new products
  • develop higher-yield or more pest-resistant crops 
  • meet with clients to discuss biotechnology solutions to their problems
  • analyse production trends and data
  • work out budget and production costs
  • prepare funding or patent applications, and be part of patent discussions.  

Physical Requirements

Biotechnologists need to have good hand-eye co-ordination.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for biotechnologists includes:  

  • laboratory work
  • research work
  • quality assurance
  • business management or marketing. 

Personal Qualities

Biotechnologists need to be:

  • patient and persevering
  • investigative and enquiring
  • detail-oriented
  • observant
  • creative and innovative
  • good at problem solving
  • good at planning and organising.


Biotechnologists need to have:

  • knowledge of biochemistry, microbiology, molecular biology and physics
  • knowledge of manufacturing practices 
  • knowledge of how to safely handle hazardous substances
  • knowledge of legal and ethical issues related to genetic engineering
  • practical skills for performing experiments and operating scientific equipment
  • skills in analysing and interpreting research results
  • skills in writing reports and proposals
  • ability to explain research to the public. 



  • usually work regular business hours but may also work weekends and evenings to complete experiments or reports
  • work in laboratories and offices at places such as plants, factories and research organisations
  • may travel locally and internationally to meet with clients or attend conferences
  • may work with hazardous chemicals
  • may work in noisy environments.

Biotechnologists can earn around $47K-$75K per year.

Pay for biotechnologists varies depending on qualifications and experience. 

  • Biotechnologists with Bachelor's degrees can expect to earn $47,000 to $55,000 a year.
  • Biotechnologists with Master’s degrees usually earn between $55,000 to $75,000.
  • Senior biotechnologists who have PhDs can earn between $76,000 to $94,000.
  • With more responsibility and experience, biotechnologists can earn up to $130,000 or more a year. 

Source: BIOTech New Zealand, 2019.              

Years Of Training

3-5 years of training usually required.

To become a biotechnologist you need to have a Bachelor of Science, Engineering or Technology in one of the following: 

  • biotechnology or plant biotechnology
  • biochemical engineering
  • biochemistry
  • food technology
  • genetics
  • industrial bioscience
  • molecular biosciences

However, many employers prefer to hire biotechnologists with a Masters or Doctorate in biotechnology or a relevant field.