The employment requirements for biotechnology jobs in Canada include:
- Completion of a two- to three-year college program related to agriculture, biology, microbiology, wildlife or resource management is usually required to work as a biological technologist
- Completion of a one- to two-year college program in a related field to work as a biological technician
- Certification with provincial associations is voluntary.
Canada is a world leader in biotechnology (bio-economy) with a large network of research hospitals, universities, laboratories and companies. BioTalent Canada is the national sector council for the biotechnology industry.
Biotechnology jobs in Canada for technologists and technicians are available in both laboratory and field settings. Employers can include the government, food product manufacturers, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies, health, research and educational institutions, environmental consulting companies, and resource and utility companies.
Before You Move to Canada
To improve your chances of successfully finding a biotechnology job, here are some steps you can take before you move to Canada:
- Research the Canadian labour market to learn what skills, experience, and qualifications you require.
- Check out BioTalent Canada resources to learn how to showcase your experience to employers and determine how ready you are to work in Canada’s biotechnology sector.
- Assess your language skills by taking an online self-assessment on the Canadian Language Benchmarks website.
- Improve your language skills. To practice the profession, you must have advanced English language skills, as it’s the working language in the bio-economy sector.
- Enroll in language classes while in your home country and continue them when you arrive in Canada. Even if you speak fluent English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills.
- Gather and organize your official education, work and identity documents while still in your home country. You may need to use a translation service if your documents are not available in English or French. Contact BioTalent Canada to identify what they require.
- Familiarize yourself with the procedures, laws, and legislation that govern the biotechnology profession in the province where you’ll settle.
- Know the name of your job in Canada (see example titles in the NOC 22110 description below) and make a list of potential employers.
- Find out how to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it as soon as you land. It will be useful when you get a job, or even to search for a job.
Start Your Biotechnology in Canada Research Here
The National Occupational Classification (NOC) code for biological technologists and technicians is NOC 22110. Check out the NOC description for an overview of the role in Canada. It’s also helpful to know the various titles that biotechnologists use in Canada. This is good information to know, especially when you begin your job search.
1. Understanding Biotechnology Job Requirements
According to a national study, Close-up on the bio-economy, the demand for talent in all sectors of Canada’s bio-economy will exceed supply by 2024. And, it predicts that by 2029, 65,000 additional employees will be needed. Given the skills shortage, internationally educated professionals will be an invaluable source of talent. This could be a great opportunity for future and recent immigrants to Canada with the right skills and background.
The bio-economy workforce in Canada covers many occupations, and research and development account for nearly half of all jobs. Labour shortages are expected for all bio-economy jobs, but three areas will experience severe shortages until 2029:
- Manufacturing and production jobs
- Distribution and logistics
- Management, finance and administration jobs.
However, it’s critical that you conduct thorough research of the national, regional, and local job markets before you move to Canada. Make sure that you understand the job requirements, and licensing requirements. You may need a certification before you can work in Canada if your job title is regulated.
You can find out if your biotechnology job is regulated, and the name of the professional certification and licensing body here.
2. Employment for Biotechnology in Canada (NOC 22110 – Biological technologists and technicians)
It’s vital to research, develop a plan to find work, and understand the specific skill requirements for your occupation. BioTalent Canada’s website is a smart starting point. The BioSkills Recognition Program helps internationally trained professionals bridge any gaps and meet Canadian standards. The program will recognize your competencies and connect you with employers within the sector.
You can participate in this program if you can legally work in Canada and know English fluently. While still in your home country, you can start the process by listing a summary of your competencies, credentials and acquired skills, and once you arrive in Canada, you may be asked to do a practical test observation.
Once your skills are recognized, you will be informed that you are BioReadyTM: that you have demonstrated the required skills for a specific job function and have the competencies to work in the Canadian biotech industry. If for some reason, your skills are not recognized, you will be informed on how to upgrade your skills and join the program afterwards.
You can also take an online BioSynergy Program that helps you integrate into the workplace. The program includes modules on effective communication, building interpersonal relationships, lifelong learning and leadership skills. If you want a mentor, you’ll have the opportunity to access a coaching module.
Credentials Assessment Services
If you plan to enrol in a college or university program to upgrade your skills, contact the school that you plan to attend. The school can guide you with the application process and identify the credential assessment agency you should use.
Make sure you highlight your international education and skills. Try to build on your existing knowledge and skills and explore university and college options thoroughly before you decide to continue your education. You might be able to get advanced standing, transfer some of your credits and benefit from prior learning assessment options.
Your international credentials and experience may gain credit or course exemptions. This way you will complete your program more quickly, without spending more money or repeating the education you already have.
Here are some credentials assessment services that you can consider:
To find more organizations that provide credential evaluation, assessment and qualification recognition services click here.
Best Locations to Find Biotechnology Jobs in Canada
Biotechnology is an exciting growing field combining biology with technology and engineering. Canada’s bio-economy is likely to require 65,000 additional workers by 2029. Its applications in medicine, agriculture and other fields put biotechnologists in high demand.
You can find biotechnology labour market information on Biotalent Canada’s website. It will help you target your job search by identifying the best locations for biotechnology jobs and where you can offer your skills.
Before deciding where you want to settle in Canada, research and find out where there is a higher demand for your specific biotech expertise.
Major Employers for Biotechnology Jobs in Canada
In Canada, most biotechnology companies are small or medium-sized businesses. They are cross-sectoral and may be involved in various stages of product development, like research, clinical and regulatory trials, production, and marketing.
Most biotech companies in Canada do suffer from a skills shortage and you can find career opportunities in agriculture, biosciences, environment, health, industrial applications, natural resources, nanotechnology and genomics.
Visit Canada’s Best Diversity Employers to check for immigrant-friendly corporations and organizations that you might be interested in. This special designation recognizes Canada’s best employers for recent immigrants. These employers offer interesting programs to help newcomers to adapt to a new workplace and a new life in Canada.
3. Upgrading Your Skills to Meet Biotechnology Employment Requirements
Canadian employers put a high emphasis on soft skills, which are personal attributes that enhance your interactions, job performance, and career prospects. Unlike your hard skills, you can apply your soft skills broadly.
Soft skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and communication are important for biotech professionals. As an individual working in biotechnology, you are expected to work well with others in a team, have strong verbal and written skills, and collaborate with others from many different groups.
In addition to your technical knowledge, you’ll be judged on your listening, writing, and basic communication skills. If your hard skills will get you an interview, most probably it is your soft skills that will get you the job and help you to succeed in the job.
Upgrading your education and skills through a bridging program or other courses and workshops may be an important part of your journey to get into the bio-economy sector in Canada.
Skills Upgrading for Biotechnology Jobs in Canada
You may have strong technical skills, but often that is not enough to get a job or maintain it afterward. You may need more training or skills upgrading, especially with regards to your communication skills and team dynamics.
Having strong skills in one or both of Canada’s official languages – English or French – is extremely important for your future in Canada. Whether you choose to focus on learning or improving English, which is the working language in the sector, or French, which is the country’s other official language, will depend on which of the two languages most people speak in the area where you intend to live.
You may be eligible for Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program. Otherwise, you can find other free or affordable classes in English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) classes through the school boards or settlement agencies.
There are even language courses to teach you professional terminology, such as job-specific language training and Occupation Specific Language Training (OSLT). And, if you already speak English at a high level, learning French is a good option, as it may offer you better opportunities.
Many immigrants take further education after coming to Canada. Some even want to change careers or enhance their careers with a Ph.D. or MBA. Click here for a list of Canadian Universities and Colleges.
Biotechnology Bridging Program
These programs can help you to “bridge” your international experience and training to Canadian workplaces. Many colleges, universities, and immigrant-serving agencies offer bridging programs. You may be eligible for one. Do some research to find a program that’s suitable for you.
University of Toronto (Mississauga)
This program offers an intensive certificate in Canadian Biotechnology Enterprise. Courses include Canadian biotechnology and biopolicy, occupation-specific language training, workplace culture and communications training. The program also offers employment services, mentoring and personal coaching.
4. Job Search Techniques for Biotechnology
The outlook for biotechnology jobs in Canada is positive, with more than a third of companies currently experiencing a labour shortage. However, the Canadian job market is competitive, so you need to prepare for your job search. As well, finding biotechnology jobs in Canada may be different than in your home country.
It’s best to search for jobs in the province or city when you plan to settle. And, it’s important to carefully research job requirements in the region and develop a plan to find work. When searching for biotechnology jobs, consider these tips:
- Broadening your search and including alternative careers and sectors.
- Seek a mentor in the biotechnology sector, such as a retired biotechnology professional, who would give you valuable insights and advice, and probably introduce you to their professional network.
- Join business-related job-finding or networking clubs through immigrant-serving agencies.
- Attend industry job fairs and regularly check job boards.
- Ask your contacts in the industry for help. Let them know you are job searching and would like to make industry connections. If someone well-established in biotech can forward your resume to a potential employer (instead of you forwarding it yourself), that gives you a leg up.
Check out BioTalent Canada’s job bank called The PetriDish. Here you can post your resume, view job postings and subscribe to job alerts.
- Some colleges or associations may maintain a job bank or suggest a commercial job site.
- If you have an idea of what companies you’d like to work for, regularly check their company websites for job openings. Depending on the size of the company, it may be helpful to connect with someone you know who works in the company (or someone who knows someone) to help you get your resume fast-tracked to the hiring manager.
Immigrant Settlement Agencies
Most settlement agencies offer free help to find job openings, update your resume, write a Canadian-style resume and prepare for interviews. Learn more about Services in Canada to Help Newcomers Settle.
To find immigrant services in your area, click here.
Tips for Writing a Biotechnology Resume
There are different ways to write a resume for the biotech sector. However, most professionals working in the industry will agree on a few guidelines to write the ideal resume.
Like most scientists, you may be very modest and not see your accomplishments as highly as the rest of the world. When you write your resume list your most relevant accomplishments and strengths related to biotech.
Make sure to list your accomplishments early on in your resume: the top-tier school, or your education; any articles you may have published in any top-tier biotechnology journals; your patented work and awards you have received.
Biotech industry resumes are ordered chronologically, with your most recent experience first. Mention your job experience, including your internships, consulting jobs and volunteer work.
Generally, with science industry jobs, hiring managers look for people who have achieved unique things. Therefore, it is important for you to list not only things you’ve done but also things you have achieved.
Remember: if you make any claims, you need to be able to back them up. For example, use words such as ‘identified’, ‘discovered’ and ‘determined’. As the scientific community is relatively small, people will find out quickly if you give yourself credit where credit isn’t due, or worse, if you claim to have participated in research projects you have not undertaken.
Consult with Different People
When meeting career counsellors, or people who work at a biotech company, ask them for their best advice regarding resume requirements for the industry.
Interview Techniques for Biotechnology Jobs in Canada
The outlook for the biotech industry looks good and whether you’re interested in agriculture, pharmacy, medicine, or bioengineering, you will find opportunities. However, before you land the job, you’ll need to ace the interview. Here are helpful tips to prepare for an interview in biotechnology.
Look for jobs
To be invited to an interview, first you have to find a job opening. Regularly check online classified ads and other specialized sites, such as The PetriDish, which only list biotech job openings. Also, check the websites of medium to large pharmaceutical companies. Once you find an opening, check if you know someone at the firm – your application will likely be given more attention if you reach out.
Staying current about the industry in Canada will allow you to showcase your knowledge in interviews comfortably. Subscribe to the biotech newsletters or blogs to stay informed.
Highlight Your Technical Knowledge
As your potential employer has never seen you at work in the lab, they’ll ask you questions to figure out how you’d perform on the job. You may be asked to solve a hypothetical question so they can assess your depth and technical knowledge.
Hone Your Interdisciplinary Skills
Biotech intersects with many disciplines, so it’s important to know about the other related disciplines as well. So when you’re studying or working, make sure to talk to people in other disciplines and with different backgrounds.
While job prospects look positive for biotechnologists, landing that next opportunity, especially for newcomers, may require extra effort and outreach. One way to do this is by requesting an “informational interview.” This is a brief (20–30-minute) meeting that you schedule with a person who is currently working in the biotechnology industry to learn more about the field in Canada.
Informational interviewing can be a great way to put your communication, research, and interpersonal skills into practice for your job search.
You should not try to get a job during an informational interview but rather find out whether or not a particular position or employer might be a good fit for you. An informational interview with a contact from your network can be a great source of career information. In addition to basic information about a particular type of industry (such as you might find on a company website), it also offers you the benefit of a professional’s first-hand experiences and impressions.
Make a list of the biotechnology companies that operate in your area. Then, use professional organizations, LinkedIn, and other networking resources tools to identify people that you can connect with to request an informational interview.
Networking is a vital activity that can help you discover job leads, gain industry insights, and meet others in your field in Canada. And because many job vacancies are not advertised, people in your network can help you discover jobs in this “hidden job market.”
You’ll benefit by meeting other professionals, building relationships, and sharing information, You might even hear about job opportunities you wouldn’t have found online.
Good places to network include conferences, professional associations, and online spaces such as LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great site to reconnect with former colleagues and employers, search for companies and jobs that you have an interest in, and make connections with others in your field. You can also join related professional groups. But remember, you have to allow time to cultivate and grow the ties you establish through networking. Nothing will happen overnight and you need to be patient.
5. Biotechnology Association in Canada
BioTalent Canada is a national sector council that provides information about licensing and certification. It also offers professional development, education, networking opportunities, and resources.
You’ll find resources related to understanding the Canadian workplace, occupation-specific language skills, understanding of document use and critical thinking skills. The website also includes labour market studies and news to help you understand the industry in Canada, opportunities, and challenges.
Professional Immigrant Networks
Professional immigrant networks are organized, volunteer-run member-based associations or networks created by and for immigrant professionals that seek to:
- create a forum to contribute to and enrich their respective communities
- provide opportunities for their members to find meaningful employment and achieve their professional goals.
These associations offer networking events, mentoring, information sessions, professional development opportunities, and connections to jobs.
Professional Immigrant Networks (Toronto)
For information, tools, free webinars, and more visit our Finding a Job in Canada resource page. Get the help you need to achieve your career goals in Canada!