Biotechnology Production Workers
Exploring this Job
If your high school has a vocational training program, look into taking a class that prepares you for production work; a local community college may also have such a course. You should consider contacting the trade organizations listed at the end of this article for more information. In addition, science-related clubs and social organizations often schedule meetings and professional lectures and offer career guidance as well.
The Biotechnology Institute publishes Your World: Biotechnology & You, a biotechnology magazine for students in grades 7–12, twice per year. Visit http://www.biotechinstitute.org/go.cfm?do=Page.View&pid=78 to read back issues of the magazine.
Biotechnology production workers have a variety of duties depending on their employer. According to Careers in Biotechnology, by Gina Frierman-Hunt and Julie Solberg, "biotechnology manufacturing jobs are usually divided into upstream processes, the early part of manufacturing when proteins are produced by cells in the fermentation process, and downstream processes, to fill and package the final product for sale."
During the fermentation process, production employees work in a clean room. They weigh and measure raw materials and chemicals in preparation for manufacturing. They prepare, sterilize, and oversee equipment that is used in the fermentation process.
Once the fermentation process is complete, other production workers set up and operate equipment that manufactures the final product. This equipment might pour a finished product into a sterile tube or place a biopharmaceutical tablet into a sterile bottle. Pharmaceutical operators are one example of production workers. They tend equipment that measures, weighs, mixes, and granulates various chemical ingredients and components, which are then manufactured into such forms as pills and capsules. Often these employees inspect the finished goods, looking for such inconsistencies as broken tablets and unfilled capsules.
Once the product is placed into packaging, production technicians operate machinery that seals the packaging, applies labels, and otherwise prepares it for shipment.
General duties for all biotechnology production workers, regardless of industry, include operating automated and robotic equipment, following directions from production managers (these are often known as Standard Operating Procedures), maintaining accurate records; performing routine maintenance on equipment, cleaning and maintaining production facilities, performing quality control checks on products; and preparing product reports for managers and supervisors.
Production managers direct workers in the manufacturing field by scheduling projects and deadlines. These employees oversee factory operations and enforce safety and health regulations, monitor efficiency, and plan work assignments. They also direct and schedule assignments for the shipping department, which packs and loads the products for distribution.