If you’re interested in biology and computer science, bioinformatics may be the field for you. This profession combines information technology, databases, chemistry, biology, genetics, and statistics to find cures for diseases. Learn everything you need to know, including the average bioinformatics salary, here.
A bioinformatics specialist works as a computer analyst in the biological research field. This computer scientist collects, stores, and analyzes biological data. This data may include genome, genetics research, DNA or protein pathways, and sequencing information.
Bioinformatics specialists may have job titles like analyst or scientist. They can work in many different industries, such as medical technology, pharmaceuticals, or computer information science. Regardless of the industry, they compile information that will help cure disease.
Bioinformatic professionals work for universities, private companies, the National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies.
Bioinformatics analysts and scientists need extensive formal education. Here’s some information about the bioinformatics field, including bioinformatics salary, to help you decide if it’s the right profession for you.
Biology, computer science, and information technology intersect in bioinformatics. You’ll design and use complex databases and software to share information about the human genome. You may also share other vital biological data to solve problems or create new medicines.
A bioinformatics analyst works in an office or laboratory setting. These scientific analysts help work on the Human Genome Project. The Genome Project is a research project that locates DNA pairs to find cures for diseases.
Bioinformatics scientists or analysts must know how to use complicated computer databases, algorithms, and software. These computer-savvy scientists perform studies of genomic data and discuss the results with researchers. They create bioinformatics databases and algorithms for the project.
They create bioinformatics databases to assist researchers in discovering cures for diseases. Scientists maintain databases and update information as necessary.
Most bioinformatics specialists need a doctorate, but some positions only require a master’s or bachelor’s degree.
A bioinformatics specialist needs to have a firm grounding in computer programming and science as well as a biological science. You’ll need excellent communication skills, the ability to think logically, advanced mathematical skills, and critical and analytical thinking skills.
You should earn an undergraduate degree in biology, and study computer science, advanced mathematics, and life science courses.
Many bioinformatics undergraduate programs are available at major universities. You can also major in computational biology or biomathematics to receive basic knowledge applicable to bioinformatics.
Computational biology teaches you how to interpret and analyze data derived from databases and other bioinformatics tools. Biomathematics uses mathematical models to discover relationships in large datasets. Distinguishing relationships in data sets helps locate specific gene sequences.
You can apply for a graduate program in Bioinformatics if you have an undergraduate degree in life science, statistics, math, or computer science. You should complete prerequisite courses in chemistry, statistics, computer programming, genetics, molecular biology, and linear algebra before beginning graduate studies.
Earning a master’s or doctorate in Bioinformatics takes two to five years to finish, depending on the program and university.
Some universities offer a Ph.D. or Master of Science in Computational Biology or Bioinformatics. These schools include Boston University, Temple University, New York University, Iowa Stare, Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, and Loyola, among others.
People with doctoral degrees from respected universities can command a higher bioinformatics salary.
Bioinformatics students take courses such as:
- Algorithms for DNA Sequencing
- Advanced Sequence Analysis
- ArrayGen technology
- Python Skills for Handling Biological Data
- Mathematical modeling
- Probability Theory
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A few lab technician positions require a bachelor’s degree. Research, development, or academic posts require a master’s or doctorate.
A master’s degree can lead to a job working in a biotechnology or bioinformatics lab or company. You’ll need to earn a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics to get work in advanced research. Bioinformatics Ph.D. programs involve lab rotations and research designed to mesh with the changing nature of computational biology and bioinformatics.
You’ll study statistics, molecular biology, computing and informatics, genomics, biological databases, probabilistic modeling, and computational neuroscience
Ph.D. students must write dissertations and pass difficult oral and written exams.
Specific graduate programs offer internships. These internships may allow you to solve or research industrial problems. You may also discover or perfect your area of expertise.
Most doctoral programs offer collaborative or teaching opportunities with the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, or other prestigious organizations. You can participate in dissertation training in many of these programs.
Summer institutes may give master’s or undergraduate students opportunities to gain research experience. You can also study on-campus in bioinformatics or genome research centers.
The average yearly bioinformatics salary for bioinformatics analysts and scientists is about $83,000. California, Texas, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Florida employed the most workers in this field. Bioinformatics scientists in the District of Columbia made the most money, with a $106,320 mean salary.
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BIOINFORMATICS SCIENTIST
A bioinformatics scientist combines skills in biology, information technology, and computer science to find causes of disease in humans, plants, and animals. They interpret gene-expression, pharmacological, and genomic data and organize it into databases.
You’ll take the information complied by geneticists and biologists. Store and label the data so scientists and others all over the world can share it and work on cures for diseases. Bioinformatics scientists study DNA, proteomics, and microarray data.
Bioinformatics scientists create custom scripts and software to automate data mining. You’ll use PHP, Perl, MySQL, and other computer languages to develop this software. You’ll also employ sequence comparison software packages like Basic Local Alignment Search Tool for data mining.
You help write and present bioinformatic findings at seminars and meetings. Some analysts and scientists write journal articles.
Be prepared to work long hours at a desk or in the database laboratory. Your schedule may be inconsistent, and you may have to work overnight or on weekends. Overtime work may be necessary to solve pressing problems or meet deadlines. However, you will usually work regular office hours.
Telecommuting opportunities are increasing for bioinformatics professionals. You may be able to work from your home office due to the expanding networks in this field. Use your laptop, modem, email, and the internet to share data
You’ll engage in the following activities regularly:
- Creating and updating Web-based tools for bioinformatics research
- Compiling information for genome annotation, gene-expression profiling, and structural bioinformatics
- Create databases and data models
- Work with software develops to make commercial software for bioinformatics
- Improve the functionality of user interfaces for bioinformatics software
- Analyze raw microarray data, proteomics data, and genomic sequence data for research purposes
- Work with researchers to recommend tech-based solutions to problems or devise computer strategies
- Prepare summary statistics of human genome information
- Present research results at conferences or through reports and journal articles
- Create new analytical tools geared to research goals
- Test and implement new bioinformatics software
- Recommend systems or procedures to streamline operations
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You’ll also confer with operations, marketing, and business development departments to improve product development.
Mid-level or senior bioinformatics professionals may need to supervise other employees. You’ll direct technicians and information technology (IT) staff to use bioinformatics applications in transcriptomics, proteomics, clinical bioinformatics, and metabolomics. You will teach others how to select and use bioinformatics tools.
Designing software and algorithms is a vital and time-consuming part of this job. You’ll apply bioinformatics algorithms, such as dynamic programming, graphic algorithms, and supervised and unsupervised machine learning.
Bioinformatics scientists develop new software to meet a project’s needs or change existing software as new information appears. You’ll manipulate publicly accessible or commercial post-genomic, genomic or proteomic databases.
You’ll create and use statistical and computational tools for gene function determination, genetic analysis, and measurement of gene expression.
The bioinformatics field changes and improves continuously. Scientists keep up-to-date on biochemistry, software, and instrumentation breakthroughs by going to conferences and seminars. You’ll also read scientific papers and journals to stay current and may even write articles for publications such as Bioinformatics.
Senior bioinformatics scientists may perform operational, scientific management and oversight. These professionals may also perform administrative tasks. A senior professional in this field manages external relationships and staff workgroups. You’ll also helm advisory and staff meetings.
Senior bioinformatics scientists also prepare budgets and determine internal and external needs.
Private companies that hire bioinformatics professionals include Kite Pharma, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Clara Foods, and General Mills. Food companies look for bioinformatics scientists to help them develop animal-free protein and other products.
Employment in this field is quite competitive. Jobs are expected to decrease by 0.4 percent between the years 2019-2024. People with doctoral degrees may be able to land non-academic or corporate positions with minimal competition.
A trained bioinformatics professional with a graduate degree can work in medical research, software development, or database management and receive excellent compensation.
The two leading organizations for bioinformatics professionals are the Bioinformatics Organization and the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB).
The Bioinformatics Organization has open access resources for international collaborations between bioinformatics researchers. The organization provides online tools, group hosting, forums, and databases. You can also sign up for professional development courses.
The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) offers a forum for scientific researchers and bioinformatics specialists to collaborate and stay up-to-date on new information through journals and scientific papers. The organization has a portal for employment opportunities, education, and the latest bioinformatics news.
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