COVID-19 may have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy last year, but it did not derail biotech employment. If anything, the pandemic is expected to stoke increasing numbers of jobs during this decade.

In assessing the impact of COVID-19 on the life sciences late last year, the world’s largest commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group cited U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures in its U.S. Life Sciences Report 2020 to show that the nation’s life sciences workforce dipped in June 2020 to 1.8 million jobs, just 1.3% below its March 2020 peak, and still 1% higher than a year earlier.

Moody’s economy.com projected that employment in scientific R&D services will grow three times as fast as overall employment growth over the next five years—0.9% on average vs. 0.3% on average. By contrast, in the decade before COVID-19, scientific R&D employment grew 1.7% annually, compared with 1.4% annually for total nonfarm employment.

While Boston/Cambridge, MA and the San Francisco Bay Area retained their first and second positions on GEN’s most recent A-List of Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters, published March 10, neither lead the nation in total life sciences jobs (Los Angeles/Orange County, CA, ranks first, followed by New York/New Jersey). According to a March report from commercial real estate firm JLL, the nation’s fastest-growing areas for life-sci employment are Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue (3.1% higher growth in 2015–2020 vs. 2010–2015), followed by Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Alpharetta (3.0%).

“We all have personal losses to mourn, but we also have reason to be optimistic. The biotech industry is well-positioned for 2021, and I believe that it will land on its feet after all the upheaval. The same is true for hiring!” Meghan Williams-Pacini, Life Sciences Recruitment Specialist with the recruitment services provider GQR, wrote March 5 on the company’s blog focused on COVID-19 and life-sci jobs.

“Job seekers will find that many things are different, but the fundamentals are the same,” Williams-Pacini observed. “Hiring managers are still looking for a person who brings technical expertise and a strong cultural fit. More than ever, there is a large emphasis across the industry on effective communication, teamwork, collaboration, flexibility, and adaptability.”

Below is a list of 10 research and clinical biotech occupations projected to add jobs through 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook updated last September, ranked in order of the number of expected additional jobs to be created between 2019 and 2029, projected as of April 9. Each occupation also lists the number of jobs in 2019 as counted by BLS, the percentage increase between 2019 and 2029, the median pay per year in 2020, and a description of the position.

For seven of the 10 occupations highlighted in the Handbook, BLS projected smaller increases in jobs from 2019 to 2029 than it did between 2018 and 2028, the 10-year period BLS examined in the previous edition of its Handbook, the basis for GEN’s 2019 A-List of top-10 biotech jobs most in demand. GEN published its first A-List of top-10 jobs in 2014, and published updated A-Lists in 2016 and in 2018. Two occupations showed increases in the 10-year job projections, while one showed the same projected employment change as in 2018–28.

 
10

Epidemiologists 

Projected employment change, 2019-2029: 400 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 8,000

Job outlook, 2019-29: 5% (Faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $74,560 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

Projected employment change, 2019-2029: 600 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 2,600

Job outlook, 2019-29: 21% (Much faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $85,700 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.

8

Microbiologists

Projected employment change, 2019-2029: 600 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 20,200

Job outlook, 2019-29: 3% (As fast as average)

Median pay, 2020: $84,400 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.

7

Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists

Projected employment change, 2019-2029: 800 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 21,000

Job outlook, 2019-29: 4% (As fast than average)

Median pay, 2020: $66,350 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 Bioengineers and Biomedical Engineers Projected employment change, 2019–2029: 1,000 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 21,200

Job outlook, 2019-29: 5% (Faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $92,620 per year

About the position: Bioengineers and biomedical engineers combine engineering principles with sciences to design and create equipment, devices, computer systems, and software.

5 Biochemists and Biophysicists Projected employment change, 2019–2029: 1,400 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 34,600

Job outlook, 2019–29: 4% (As fast as average)

Median pay, 2020: $94,270 per year

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

4 Chemical Technicians Projected employment change, 2019–2029: 1,900 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 68,100

Job outlook, 2019–29: 3% (As fast as average)

Median pay, 2020: $49,820 per year

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

3 Medical Scientists Projected employment change, 2019–29: 8,400 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 138,300

Job outlook, 2019–29: 6% (Faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $91,510 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.

2 Biological Technicians Projected employment change, 2019–29: 4,300 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 87,500

Job outlook, 2019–29: 5% (Faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $46,340 per year

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

1 Clinical Laboratory Technologists (Medical Laboratory Scientists) and Technicians Projected employment change, 2019–29: 24,700 more jobs 

Number of jobs, 2019: 337,800

Job outlook, 2019–29: 7% (Faster than average)

Median pay, 2020: $54,180 per year

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