A meeting between computer science, information technology and biology leads to research and discovery in a field known as bioinformatics. Computer programming and software development are used by bioinformatics specialists in designing complex and voluminous databases for the storage of biological information; an example that comes readily to mind is the human genome. A bioinformatics specialist can look forward to excellent job prospects; however, they will need to achieve several years of advanced studies in order to become one. In this article, we will look at the career path of a bioinformatics specialist and discuss what an aspiring bioinformatics specialist must do in order to pursue their career.
These professionals are computer and data specialists working within various biological research areas including biotechnology. Complex biological data are collected, stored, analyzed and presented by these professionals; protein pathways and sequences, and genome and DNA information are included among such data. Bioinformatics specialists can work in other areas such as medical technology, computer information science, and pharmaceuticals (source: Occupational Information Network (O NET) (online.onetcenter.org)). Apart from biological science, computer programming and computer science are other areas in which bioinformatics specialists are required to be well-versed. There are several daily job requirements of bioinformatics specialists including development of new software programs necessitated by research requirements and projects, creation of algorithms and web-based tools of analysis, and design and manipulation of complex databases.
A bioinformatics specialist is a result of an extensive formal training. The first critical step is the completion of an undergraduate program, majoring in biology; the prospective bioinformatics specialist must take courses in computer science apart from advanced mathematics and life sciences (source: www.bls.gov). A bioinformatics specialist is required to have completed one or more advanced degree programs. There are Master of Science courses and Ph.D in Computational Biology or Bioinformatics programs offered that a prospective bioinformatics specialist can aim at pursing in order to prepare for their career. An entry-level candidate could consider a graduate degree in engineering or computer science. These programs usually run for tenures ranging from two to five years.
Bioinformatics specialists enjoy excellent employment prospects (source: BLS). Job growth of twenty-one percent has been projected for all biological scientists during the decade from 2008 to 2018; employment prospects are generally good for candidates with a doctoral degree aiming to get employed in non-academic positions.
Wage Potential of Bioinformatics Specialists
Wage data has not been collected specifically for bioinformatics specialists who have been grouped with other scientists in the field of biology (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)). In 2009, the average annual salary of a bioinformatics specialist was $66,510. In November 2010, biotechnology research scientists earned an annual average salary of $82,953 (source: Salary.com).