The Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation (MassBioEd) recently delivered mixed news when it came to industry job growth in the Bay State. On the one hand, the state saw total life sciences employment push past the 70,000-job mark last year (to 71,519 jobs). But at the end of the fourth quarter, according to MassBioEd’s latest 3-Month Job Trends Report, the number of year-over-year job listings fell by 1,376 jobs, or 21%, the largest decline recorded since the foundation of Massachusetts’ biopharma industry group MassBio began tracking quarterly job trends.

The report did not offer explanations for the trend. One possibility may simply be the hiring cycle itself. “The fourth quarter presents the most complex hiring dynamics of the year, with its mix of fall activity, holiday retail hiring, Thanksgiving-to-New Year’s slowdown, and end-of-year financial and budget maneuvering,” according to job website

Another explanation may be industry reluctance during Q4 to grow before seeing what was in the tax overhaul signed into law by President Donald Trump in December. That measure included a one-time tax cut for U.S. companies that shift or “repatriate” profits from overseas back into the U.S.

The pace of job reductions appeared not to have slowed down much during the first quarter of this year: The number of biopharma job cuts between January and March of this year stood at 2,745, down 1% from 2,775 a year ago, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Below is a list of 10 research and clinical biotech occupations projected to add jobs through 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook updated April 13, ranked in order of the number of expected additional jobs to be created between 2016 and 2026. Each occupation also lists the number of jobs in 2016 as counted by BLS, the percentage increase between 2016 and 2026, the median pay per year in 2017, and a description of the position. Also available is Alex Philippidis’ 2023 Top 10 Life Sciences Jobs over the Next Decade providing you an updated list through the 2030s.

For eight of the 10 occupations highlighted in the Handbook, BLS projected larger increases in jobs from 2016 to 2026 than it did between 2014 and 2024, according to the 2016–17 edition of the BLS report—the basis for GEN’s 2016 List of top-10 biotech jobs most in demand.

Smaller jobs growth than 2016 was estimated for the other two top-10 occupations:

  • The workforce for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians is expected to grow over a decade by 9,400 fewer jobs (18% less) than the 52,100 foreseen for 2014–24.
  • The number of biomedical engineers (BME) shows the biggest projected drop in projected growth—declining more than two-thirds, from 5,100 jobs in 2014–24 to just 1,500 jobs in 2016–26.

“BME’s are the best at being a ‘jack of all trades,’ However, this comes at a cost of being a ‘master of none,’” Aaron Ong, a BME at University of California, San Diego, observed on Quora. “If a company wanted to work on cloning technology, they would hire experts in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, mechanical, electrical engineering, etc. BME is basically a field that combines everything.”

The BLS’ 2014–24 job-growth estimates can be seen for these and other occupations in GEN’s 2016 List of Top 10 Biotech Jobs Most in Demand over the Next Decade, an updated version of GEN’s first such list, published in 2014.

#10. Epidemiologists

Employment change, 2016–26: 500 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 6,100 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 9%

Median pay, 2017: $69,660 per year

About the position: Epidemiologists are public health professionals who investigate patterns and causes of disease and injury in humans. They seek to reduce the risk and occurrence of negative health outcomes through research, community education, and health policy.

#9. Genetic Counselors

Employment change, 2016–26: 900 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 3,100 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 29%

Median pay, 2017: $77,480 per year

About the position: Genetic counselors assess individual or family risk for a variety of inherited conditions, such as genetic disorders and birth defects. They provide information and support to other healthcare providers, or to individuals and families concerned with the risk of inherited conditions.

#7 (tie). Biomedical Engineers

Employment change, 2016–26: 1,500 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 21,300 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 7%

Median pay, 2017: $88,040 per year

About the position: Biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with medical sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software used in healthcare.

#7 (tie). Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Employment change, 2016–26: 1,500 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 19,400 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 8%

Median pay, 2017: $62,290 per year

About the position: Zoologists and wildlife biologists study animals and other wildlife and how they interact with their ecosystems. They study the physical characteristics of animals, animal behaviors, and the impacts humans have on wildlife and natural habitats.

#6. Microbiologists

Employment change, 2016–26: 1,900 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 23,200 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 8%

Median pay, 2017: $69,960 per year

About the position: Microbiologists study microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, and some types of parasites. They try to understand how these organisms live, grow, and interact with their environments.

#5. Chemical Technicians

Employment change, 2016–26: 2,700 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 67,300 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 4%

Median pay, 2017: $47,280 per year

About the position: Chemical technicians use special instruments and techniques to help chemists and chemical engineers research, develop, produce, and test chemical products and processes.

#4. Biochemists and Biophysicists

Employment change, 2016–26: 3,600 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 31,500 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 11%

Median pay, 2017: $91,190 per year

About the position: Biochemists and biophysicists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, heredity, and disease.

#3. Biological Technicians

Employment change, 2016–26: 8,400 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 82,100 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 10%

Median pay, 2017: $43,800 per year

About the position: Biological technicians help biological and medical scientists conduct laboratory tests and experiments.

#2. Medical Scientists

Employment change, 2016–26: 16,100 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 120,000 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 13%

Median pay, 2017: $82,090 per year

About the position: Medical scientists conduct research aimed at improving overall human health. They often use clinical trials and other investigative methods to reach their findings.

#1. Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technologists and Technicians

Employment change, 2016–26: 42,700 more jobs

Number of jobs, 2016: 335,700 jobs

Job outlook, 2016–26: 13%

Median pay, 2017: $51,770 per year

About the position: Medical laboratory technologists (commonly known as medical laboratory scientists) and medical laboratory technicians collect samples and perform tests to analyze body fluids, tissue, and other substances.

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