Job Outlook for Biological Engineers
How will a degree in Biological Engineering ensure a great career? The answer to this is easy.
Biological engineers will solve some of the world’s most pressing issues by applying engineering principles to nature’s factories – cells, microbes, DNA – to produce novel, sustainable, and cost effective products.
In the 21st Century, Biological Engineering job growth will be greater than 21% per year in the United States. These engineering careers will be in the area of energy sustainability and national security, biologically engineered product development, and health.
Advances in engineering and science in the 20th Century contributed to the development of Biological Engineering, including advances in biology (mapping of the Human Genome), computational sciences, material sciences, and nanotechnology. All of these advances have given us the ability to “engineer” biology for new products and industries.
The forces driving biological engineering forward are:
- The aging population and focus on health
- The need for sustainable domestic energy production
- Environmental initiatives
- Economic factors and cost-effectiveness
All of these areas need engineering expertise and new technologies.
The Biological Engineering Program at Utah State University emphasizes Bioprocessing & BioEnergy and Biomedical Engineering to meet these demands. R&D, design, manufacturing, testing, quality and processing engineers are all needed in these areas of biological engineering.
Employers of biological engineers include:
Equipment and systems manufacturers
National Security/defense organizations
Here are some facts regarding the employment outlook for biological engineers.
Bioprocessing & BioEnergy Engineering
The National Renewable Energy Lab at the US Department of Energy forecast 1M US jobs in the alternative energy field by 2022, jumping to 2M jobs by 2030. At least 15% of these positions will be biological engineering.
Biofuels Digest projects the use of algal biofuels will reach 1B gallons by 2014. Exxon Mobil recently announced its investment of $600M in algal biofuel research and development. There are many entrepreneurial start-up companies focusing on algal biofuels. All of these endeavors require biological engineers.
Petroleum-based plastics contribute 80% more carbondioxide to the environment than biologically derived plastics. Biological engineers are needed in the bioplastics industry. Bioplastics will represent 25-30% of the worldwide plastic market by 2020 and will be over a $10B industry in the United States by 2020. Engineers are needed in all phases of Research & Development and manufacturing of bioplastics.
Employment in this area of engineering emphasis will grow at least 21% per year for the next decades in the US. Engineering jobs include biomedical, bioinstrumentation, pharmaceutical and manufacturing engineering positions.
Synthetic Biological Engineering
The emerging field of synthetic biology is a cornerstone of 21st Century engineering, and a major component of a Biological Engineer’s “toolbox.” Synthetic biology is the application of systems engineering to biology. In other words, engineering biological building blocks to make new products.
In 2008, the global market for synthetic biology was $233.8M, according to a June 2009 report by Business Communications Company, a Connecticut-based market research firm. This market is expected to increase to $2.4 Billion in 2013, an annual growth rate of 59.8%.
Biological engineering is the emerging and dynamic field of the 21st Century. The career opportunities in biological engineering are enormous.