Biological Technologists and Technicians

(NOC 2221)


These comments apply to the career grouping of Technical Occupations in Life Sciences, which includes Biological Technologists and Technicians.

Currently, your work prospects are rated FAIR because:

The number of biological technologists and technicians remained fairly steady over the 90s, then increased significantly. In the 90s, job losses in public administration were offset by growth in demand in biotechnology, agriculture and the agri-food industry. With the end of government budget cuts late in the 90s, the positive trends in the other sectors led to strong employment growth. Given that these trends are expected to continue, the number of biological technologists and technicians should increase significantly in the next few years.

Career opportunities arise from employment increase and positions that become available when biological technologists and technicians retire or change occupations. Training and experience in this occupation give biological technologists and technicians access to technical sales specialist positions (NOC 6221), especially in the agricultural machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products industries, and to non-technical sales representative positions (NOC 6411), especially in the food industry. Members of this occupation can also obtain promotions to supervisory positions and to agricultural representative (NOC 2123) and even biologist (NOC 2121) positions for those who meet the requirements.

Job growth in this occupation depends on a number of factors, depending on the field of work and to specialities. Government spending, the development of legislation and scientific discovery are the major factors that influence employment in all specialties in this occupation.

Public administration is a major employer for most specialties in this occupation, including agricultural technologists, wildlife technicians and laboratory technicians. The development of government spending plays an important role in the demand for biological technologists and technicians. Government cutbacks over the 90s have led to a significant decrease in their number in public administration. However, because governments are focussing their new spending on health care and, to a lesser degree, education, we cannot expect a substantial increase in government spending in biological technologists and technicians-related fields.

However, the level of government expenditures will not only influence employment in government service. These expenditures will also fuel activity in other sectors. For example, in 2006, the provincial government announced investment in animal pathology and epidemic surveillance laboratories to counter any threat of an epidemic or pathogens, such as avian flu, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and hoof-and-mouth disease, in the food and agricultural sector. This type of investment definitely favours employment in this occupation.

The adoption of some laws could lead to an increased volume of work for biological technologists and technicians. For instance, the act to extend patent protection to pharmaceutical companies during the development of new medication has had a positive effect on the demand for microbiology and bacteriology technicians over the past few years. This act stimulated research and development (including clinical tests) in pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies.

Legislation on agricultural waste and water management also promotes demand for agricultural technicians. Farm operators must prepare crop and soil protection plans, present their plans for irrigation and the use of pesticides, and provide protection of buffer strips. Hygiene standards and legislation on quality control of food promote the hiring of food product technicians. Considering the increased public awareness in matters of hygiene and environmental protection, especially following ecological disasters, development in legislation should promote employment in all specialties in this occupation over the next few years.

Scientific discovery opens new fields of work for biological technologists and technicians both in basic research and in the research and development of products that are based on the results of basic research. Mapping the human genome, the application of genetics to agriculture both in plants (genetically modified organisms, GMOs) and animals (cloning, genetic selection, growth hormones and so on), and the use of micro-organisms for treating waste water or contaminated soil are examples.

These discoveries provoke numerous reactions from the public on ethical issues and the ecological and health-related consequences. The public is asking questions, seeking guarantees and demanding more research and protection measures. This pressure forces farm operators to become well informed on the advantages and disadvantages of using these novelties.

As for the introduction of new technologies, farm operators need advice to choose the machinery and computer equipment best suited to their production. Scientific discovery and the introduction of new technologies should promote employment in all specialties in this occupation over the next few years.

Given all of these factors, it is predicted that the number of biological technologists and technicians will increase significantly over the next few years.

Job Seekers: 15,254
Job Openings: 18,005

Job prospects for this career are rated Fair

Last Updated: May 10, 2012