What is a Bioinformatics Specialist?

What are bioinformatics specialists? Is this the right career choice for me?

As technology advances, it often creates new professions, and bioinformatics is such an occupation that is very much still growing and developing. When scientists began decoding the human genome in 1990, they began collecting biochemical data. At first, biologists or technology experts organized and kept track of all the data, but it soon grew into its own occupation with bioinformatics trained specifically to manage the data. Basically, they collect and study biological data. These specialists process the biological information at the molecular level by using computers, and focus on managing and analyzing the enormous amount of data that is being created in molecular and cellular biology, genomics and biomedicine.

Become a Bioinformatics Specialist...

Bioinformatics Resources...

What type of training, education, and experience is necessary to enter the field of bioinformatics?

As a bioinformation specialist, you will likely work in the biotechnology industry maintaining biomolecular sequences databases. The job goes beyond typical database programming, as you must also have training in chemistry, biology, or other life sciences. You will need a bachelor’s degree in either bioinformatics or in life sciences. Bioinformatics combines science, mathematics, and engineering to understand all the biological data from science experiments, such as genome sequencing. Industry experience is helpful when breaking into this profession.

Earning a bachelor of science in bioinformatics will prepare you for a master’s level degree or for a job in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology field. Some universities offer a combination Bachelor of Science degree with a graduate degree. Specific courses will include statistics, calculus, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, programming, algorithms, and databases. These degrees will immerse you in methods of computational biology, modeling, molecular biology, structural biology, systems biology, proteomics, genomic sequencing and genomic analysis. If you have already earned a bachelor’s degree in the sciences, you can enroll in software courses to try and break into the biotech industry.

What does the future hold for bioinformatics specialists?

This is a highly challenging and intellectual field, but if you are interested in both science and computers, consider pursuing this field or taking some core bioinformatics courses. It is one that will continue to grow and will offer numerous opportunities to contribute to research, to learn, and be on top of a field that is constantly advancing. Average salary for a bioinformatics specialist is about $75,000, according to simplyhired.com, and is generally much higher than the average database programmer, due to the cross-disciplinary knowledge and training that is required. Are you up to the intellectual challenge? Enroll in a bioinformatics course along with life sciences and see if it’s the educational and career path for you.

To learn more about becoming an bioinformatics specialist, you can contact schools that offer biostatistics and life sciences programs. If you are still trying to determine the right career choice, take some time to explore additional careers in health care.