Where Biology Meets Computer Science: Bioinformatics Degree

Are you interested in biology, but also have a passion for mathematics and statistics? Do you enjoy working with computers and specialized software to analyze and interpret complex information? With a bioinformatics degree you can learn the skills required to combine all of these interests and turn them into a career. Thanks to the rapid advances in computers and technology as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research there is a real need for skilled people to extract meaningful information from all this data. Working in the field of bioinformatics can be very rewarding if you would love to be on the cutting edge of research and discovery.

Bioinformatics Degree Information

Associate in Science Biotechnology - Bioinformatics

Completing an Associate in Science Degree with a focus on biotechnology and bioinformatics is typically a two year process. In addition to general education requirements, such as communications, humanities and computer competency, this course also tends to feature major requirements. These may include statistical methods, biotechnology methods and applications as well as general chemistry and qualitative analysis. Major course electives range from scientific computing to introduction to bioinformatics and database application programming.

Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics

Completing a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Bioinformatics can provide you with a solid grounding in biology while enhancing your knowledge of science subjects and computing. In addition to core subjects, there are typically also a number of elective subjects to choose from, which can provide complementary training in areas that you are interested in. Required subjects may include statistical learning, discrete mathematics and optimization, structural bioinformatics, computational genomics and data visualization. Electives tend to range from chemogenomics and genetic epidemiology to molecular phylogenetics and evolutionary genomics.

Master of Science in Bioinformatics

Bioinformatics is also available as a Master of Science course where the focus is to prepare students for careers in bioinformatics or biotechnology in either academia or industry. Fundamental bioinformatics courses may include applied bioinformatics, statistical genomics and principles of systematics while biology courses range from human genetics to population genetics and biomolecular physics. Also included in this type of degree are computer science and informatics courses, such as database systems, machine learning and advanced data analysis.

Bioinformatics Degree FAQs

Can This Type of Degree Be Completed Online?

Unfortunately, most undergraduate level programs in bioinformatics are only available to study on-campus. However, it is possible to complete master’s degree programs in this field online without the need to attend a campus. Online course material can be accessed from any computer with an internet connection and completed when you have the time. This gives you the flexibility to continue your studies even if you have other obligations, such as work, that prohibit you from attending campus classes. Many online courses in bioinformatics also enable you to interact with fellow students and instructors via online forms of communication, such as chat rooms, forums or email.

Who Is An Ideal Candidate To Obtain A Degree In Bioinformatics?

Since there are different areas of bioinformatics in which you can specialize it is a field of study that can be appealing to different types of people. Students who are interested in the engineering or development side of things will benefit from having good programming skills and an interest in areas such as software engineering as well as algorithms. Many people who work in this field are proficient in programming languages such as Python as well as others that are useful when dealing with statistics. A good understanding of data and relational database techniques can be another big advantage for students who are interested in this field. Additionally, students should have good concentration skills, be good at observation and be able to handle abstract models.

What Are My Career Options After Studying Bioinformatics?

Students who obtain degrees in bioinformatics typically go on to find employment at biotechnology firms. However, there are also positions at research organizations or government organizations where having this type of degree can be a huge advantage. The most common career paths for students who completed a bioinformatics degree is either becoming researchers, engineers or analysts. The knowledge and skills obtained when studying bioinformatics can also be useful for careers in forensics, programming, data mining, education and consulting.

What Type of Duties Might I Have When Working In This Field?

Your responsibilities when working in the field of bioniformatics will depend largely on the direction that you chose for your career. For example, when working as an analyst you will typically be required to either perform your own analyses or assists scientists with analyzing their data. You’ll usually be working as part of a team and will be required to have good software skills as the work involves using specialized applications in most cases. Researchers on the other hand, tend to spend most of their time in labs doing research or writing grants. Finally, those who choose to become engineers are typically responsible for creating the software tools that are used by other people working in this field. Although a lot of bioinformatics tend to focus on the human genome, other biologists and scientists working in the field of wildlife and the environment also have a need for bioinformatics specialists.

How Much Could I Potentially Earn When Employed As A Bioinformatics Specialist?

There are different types of jobs available in the field of bioinformatics and your career choice will determine what type of salary you could potentially earn. Although the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics does not have any specific data on those working in the field of bioinformatics, they do indicate that the mean annual wage for biological scientists is about $74,790. Medical scientists on the other hand can earn up to $82,240 per year. Thee industry with the highest annual mean wages for this occupation is the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing ones followed by scientific research and development services.

What Are The Other Benefits To Studying Bioinformatics?

Working in the field of bioinformatics is very rewarding and fulfilling if you have a passion for the subject matter. In addition, the work you do can have a huge impact on the lives and wellbeing of others. For example, thanks to the efforts of bioinformatics specialists there have been a lot of progress in the development of new medications as well as combating birth defects or inherited diseases. It is a field that enables you to use multiple skill sets and the opportunity to advance biological as well as medical science.

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