Mining the job search sites for life science positions

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Sandra Porter

Disclaimers - just so you know...

  • This information is cross-posted at
  • All the data and graphs in this post were obtained from
  • I do not have any kind of commercial affiliation with this company I found their site via GenomeWeb.

Having worked around biotechnology for several years, I thought I was pretty familiar with biotech job descriptions.

I decided to test this assumption by playing with the data at

Being able to quickly search with different terms and examine trends in job postings has proved to be an enlightening experience. These kinds of searches would be really useful for anyone who is conducting a job search or considering what courses to study for a future career.

What terms are used to describe biotech and life-science jobs?

It's important to realize that  when we search biotech and life science job data, we get different  results when we use different search terms, even if the positions are roughly equivalent. Not only is this insight important for looking at data, it's important for using the right terms when we look for work. uses an algorithm that searches for the presence of a term in a job description. All job descriptions that contain a term are counted and displayed. Although we can get more results for more generic terms, our resulting numbers are too high and contain too little detail. For example, searching with the word "Biology" gives us adds for biology instructors, scientists, tutors, internships, and industry positions, among others.

In the graph below, we see that the numbers for "Biological Science Technician" dwarf the numbers of available positions for biomanufacturing, biotechnicians, and biology technicians. 


** If you click the links below any of the graphs, you can see the data too.

If we look more closely at the job descriptions, we find many of the jobs in the "Biological Science Technician" category overlap the descriptions we would apply to biotechnicians.
Looking more closely at the jobs listed under "Biological Science Technician," we see that many positions are for field or fisheries biologists and they don't really fit the training and skills of biotechnologists who would be working in a lab. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that other data at show that 66% of these jobs today, only require a bachelor's degree or less.

Narrowing the search

If we move away from the broad category of Biological Science Technician and narrow the search to job titles that imply lab work, such as "Biotechnician", "Biology Lab Technician," or "Biomanufacturing," we can get results that are more specific for biotechnology kinds of jobs.  We also learn that  multiple terms are useful since the results for "biotechnician" were different than those for "Biology Laborotory Technician," and suprisingly, the results for "Biology Laboratory Technician," were somewhat different than the results for "Biology Lab Technician." 



 Searching by skill

On the other hand, search terms that are too specific, or use titles that are more regional, or specific to a certain kind of employer, can miss applicable positions. Searching by a skill or technique can also be helpful since many jobs don't include technician in their title or description, even when they are technician types of jobs.  If we use the names of commonly taught biotechnology skills, the data show us that molecular biology positions are really more common than positions in biomanufacturing.  Selecting the links in the table below the graph will take you to lists of jobs in each category.  

I think it's particularly helpful to look the job descriptions that fit the skill names.  For bioinformatics, for example, you see that most of the jobs listed under that heading are software engineering positions that require programming.  This sort of information is valuable to know if this is the career path that interests you. We also see that the job descriptions in that category are very different than any of the other groups. 

I also did a search where I added the word "technician" after each of these terms.  In every case, the numbers were at least 10 fold lower.  This told me that technician is not always part of the job title.



Take home lessons

What are the take home lessons from these searches?

1. Do more than one search.

2. Use multiple titles for searching.

3. Search by skill or technique, too.

4. Hiring has up and downs throughout the year. Use the email alert system at to be notified when new jobs appear in the list.

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