Bioinformatics Carrer Opportunities

Bioinformatics is the somewhat new and rather unfortunate term that is commonly employed for referring to the use of computers in biological research. Bioinformatics now looks like a hot cake. The number of jobs advertised for bioinformatics in Nature and Science magazine has increased by 96% bioinformatics job advertisements. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for biological scientists, including bioinformatics scientists, was about $71,000 in 2011. Expected job growth for scientists in this category (including biochemists and biophysicists) is 31% between 2010 and 2020. According to BLS data, bioinformatics technicians are included under the umbrella of statistical assistants, whose mean salary was about $39,000 in 2011. The Department of Labor reports bioinformatics technicians will have job growth of 3% to 9% between 2010 and 2020. According to, however, the median salary for biotechnology research scientists with bioinformatics knowledge was much higher, Rs. 1,500,000 per year as of March 2013. According to Indeed.Com data, the average earnings for bioinformaticist were $74,000 per year as of 2013.

Pros and Cons of a Bioinformaticist Career

Bioinformatics is an evolving, interdisciplinary field, so you'll need strong skills in several areas. Many bioinformaticists are scientists, but there are technician/analyst positions available as well. While you can make a higher-than-average salary in this field, you will likely need to complete a graduate degree program to meet professional requirements.

Pros of a Bioinformaticist Career

  • Median salary above average (about $39,000 for bioinformatics technicians and about $71,000 for bioinformatics scientists in 2011).
  • Opportunity to help advance medical and biological science.
  • Strong expected job growth (32% between 2010 and 2020) for biochemists and biophysicists.
  • Opportunity to use multiple skill sets.

Cons of a Bioinformaticist Career

  • Long period of education and training for bioinformatics scientists, many jobs require a Ph.D. Must have knowledge in all areas of science.
  • Possible strong competition for entry-level as well as permanent research and faculty positions.
  • Potential dependency on federal budget decisions for research funding from the National Science Foundation or the National Institutes of Health.
  • Field has continually been in flux, may continue to change as new technologies are discovered.

Education Requirements for Bioinformaticist

According to job listings on CareerBuilder and Monster.Com, many bioinformatics positions require a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree or Post-doctoral Fellowship (PDF), although some may require a master's or a bachelor's degree. A number of universities offer interdisciplinary degree programs in bioinformatics; for example, it may be a joint program run by the department of computer sciences and the department of biology. Course work in these integrated programs might cover computer science, genetics, engineering, biology, math and medicine.

Positions that would require you to design or develop new programs and methods for studying databases usually require a doctoral degree. Jobs where you would help researchers access the genetic information in a database and/or maintain and update databases may require a bachelor's, master's or Ph.D., depending on the position.

Essential Skills Required for a Bioinformaticist

Employers don't always require a degree in bioinformatics and often accept applicants with degrees in a related area, such as mathematics, computer science or biophysics. However, because bioinformatics generally spans several fields, you may need working knowledge or experience in areas not specifically covered by your degree. A bioinformaticist must have the following skills to have better opportunities:

  1. Good communications skills. As a bioinformatics specialist, you will be communicating complex data to people with a variety of backgrounds. It's very much like being a translator. You have to know the languages involved, and you have to be an expert communicator in order to help people understand each other.

  2. Good teamwork skills. Bioinformatics is not for lone rangers. Researchers can sometimes work independently, but bioinformatics is about information and communication. You will be working on a team with people who have diverse backgrounds and differing areas of expertise. Good teamwork skills are essential.

  3. The ability to multitask. You will need to be able to handle several complex tasks at a time. This can be a high pressure job with deadlines that have to be met. The ability to multitask will help you manage your job with less stress.

  4. Flexibility. You may be moved from one project to another as your skills are needed. You may have to put aside a project you are working on to help someone with an urgent request. You may need to stop what you are doing and explain a computer model to a scientist. Flexibility is a key skill to have in bioinformatics.

  5. A working knowledge of biology and its applications. You don't have to be an expert in biology, but you do need to know what kind of information you are working with. It is especially useful to know about molecular biology and genetics and to understand recent genetic research.

  6. Proficiency in computer languages. You need to know basic programming languages like PERL, Python, R, Java, PHP, and MySQL. Most bioinformatics programming utilizes PERL.

  7. Skill in data mining. Being able to extract data from multiple resources is invaluable.

  8. Good data visualization skills. You'll need to be able to take complex data and interpret it into models and other ways that make it understandable for biologists and other team members.

  9. Experience with bioinformatics tools, such as BLAST, BLAT, NGS, molecular modeling, drug design, sequence analysis algorithms and clustering tools.

  10. Experience in using bioinformatics resources, such as the UCSC genome browser and Entrez. You'll need to be familiar with the National Center for Bioinformatics (NCBI) and the database and analysis tools available on their website.

If you have these ten skills, you will have no trouble finding the bioinformatics job you want. You'll be a valuable member of a team that is doing life-changing research in molecular biology and its applications.

Ten Great Sites for Bioinformatics Jobs

  1. ISCB: Job Board

    This is the web site for the International Society for Computational Biology. It has extensive and very up to date job listings. In addition, it has a number of professional resources, such as information about educational opportunities, conferences, awards and fellowships, and subscription to professional journals.

  2. Bioinformatics.Org also has an extensive, international job board. It also has links to online research databases, online analysis tools and educational offerings. In addition, there are several professional discussion forums, which are a good way to network and learn about those hidden job openings, too.

  3. BioPlanet Jobs

    In addition to job listings, you can post your CV or resume here. There are also lots of networking opportunities in the "chats," from career advice to software evaluations.

  4. Science Careers

    Job listings are in the form of a searchable database, plus you'll find lots of career development help, articles, and information. You'll also find out about conferences, funding sources and news related to bioinformatics.

  5. TheScienceJobs

    A searchable bioinformatics job database, plus a blog. The career center has articles about bioinformatics career, conferences, and workshops.

  6. sciencejobs is a subsidiary website of NewScientist Magazine. It has a searchable database of all kinds of science jobs. You'll also find the usual job hunting tools, plus you can post your resume to a searchable database for recruiters. In addition, you can sign up for email alerts when new jobs are posted. You can also explore employer profiles for several excellent biotechnology companies.

  7. helpBIOTECH

    helpBIOTECH is the India's No.1 Life Sciences Career Site. It is a blog site, which includes articles about jobs, scholarships, admission, training programmes, workshops, seminars, conferences, ebooks, study materials, competitive exam notifications.

  8. BioSpace focuses on the biopharmaceutical industry. It has extensive job listings, but they also sponsor career fairs, where several potential employers are brought together in one place. They also publish a magazine, Advances in BioPharmaceutical Careers.

  9. Bioinformatics.Fr

    This is another great job search website, where you can search for bioinformatics jobs, scholarships, training programmes, workshops, seminars, and conferences. You can get latest updates to your email.

  10. is a popularly known for bioinformatics links directory. It consists of links for bioinformatics tools and databases. You can get job updates in bioinformatics, bioprogramming, and computational biology.

The Top Bioinformatics Companies

A list of few top bioinformatics companies are listed below:

Abbott, accelrys, adolor, Agilent, AstraZeneca, AMGEN, Ardais, AVAKI, Aventies, Base4, Bayer, BioDiscovery, Biosentients, Boehringer Ingelheim, CIPHERGEN, Computercraft, CuraGen, Dupont Merck, Exelixis, GENAISSANCE, GeneData, GenenCor, Genentech, GenSet, genzyme, Geospiza, immunex, Incyte, Ils, Incellico, LEXICON, Lilly, MERCK, Monsanto, neomorphic, Novartis, Novo A/S, Ocimum, Paracel, Partek, pfizer, Roche, Schering-Plough, Strand Genomics, Synomics, 3rd Millennium, Virtual Genetics, Wyeth, Schrodinger.


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