3

Bioprocess Technician

at Genentech/Roche

Global Pharm , 10,001+ employees
BioTechCA

- San Francisco, California

- 10/10/20
Job/Career Demand
4.0
Positive Impact
5.0
Satisfaction
4.0
Advancement/Growth
4.0
Creativity
3.0
Work-Life Balance
4.0
Compensation & Benefits
5.0
Work Environment
5.0
Total Compensation
$60,000
Years of experience
5.0
Recommended Education
Bachelor's Degree

What education would you recommend?

You could get hired into a technician role as an associate, but you would need a specialized associate degree, putting you on a path to a biotech-related field. You could get hired without a biology background or a bachelor's in rare cases, but this is generally if you already have manufacturing or military experience or know somebody.

Describe the path you took to become a bioprocess technician

Biological sciences degree -- went to a career fair and spoke to the manufacturing manager and I got an interview months later.

What's a day in the life of a bioprocess technician?

10-12 hour shifts generally for manufacturing. You're working in FDA regulated clean space, highly regulated, operations are run by automation or batch records and Standard Operating Procedures. You follow instructions on how to execute operations and recipes supporting the production of a final drug substance that is therapeutic for patients. It can be highly automated, depending on the size of the plant. Lots of opportunities to wear many hats as you support technical processing and learn about operations management and what it takes to support a fast large regulated process.

What's the best part of being a bioprocess technician?

Depending on the company, the culture can be very healthy and lax. Great camaraderie amongst the shift you work with supporting the work. Days/nights are long, but you have good people by your side to play music in the background while you take care of work. Meaningful work that truly equates to helping people and providing much-needed therapeutics for those who are sick.

What are some perks of your job?

Mental health support, legal support,

What's the downside of being a bioprocess technician? Words of caution?

If your goal is to be in the biotech industry long term, you need to quickly create a path for how you will stand out and move OUT of manufacturing. You'll end up becoming a technician for years and years with only yearly increases in salary, potentially being a lead, and rarely a supervisor if you're extremely focused on being a subject matter expert on the manufacturing floor. Your skills will stagnate, and you won't be able to move into more technical challenging positions in the industry that require bench-scale experience or experimental design experience.

The shift structure is not for everyone. These are fine-tuned biological processes at work, and for a large corporation, they are maximizing profits and running the plant 24/7. Christmas, Thanksgiving, 4am, 4pm, the tanks are full of product 99% of the time. They need people to work the night shifts. You'll be put on night shift involuntarily. It's not sustainable over time. 4 years took a lot out of me, and I had no option to get off unless I quit the job.

Mistakes can be costly. Being able to navigate failure is essential, as you need to be honest about every mistake because you are handling medicine that will be injected into patients. If you don't have the integrity to admit you goofed, then this is not for you.

What's the earning potential? Entry-level? Mid-level? Senior-level?

Compensation is based on an hourly rate that includes lots of overtime pay and a shift differential earned at the cost of a working night or swing shift. There's higher earning potential if you're working the graveyard shift on 12-hour shifts, plus any holidays with triple time can boost you up.

Advice on how to get started as a bioprocess technician

Any large pharmaceutical company needs to manufacture their product, and they either do that with Upstream/Downstream biotech processes. Your goal should be to end up in cell culture manufacturing (upstream) or Protein Purification (downstream). Quite often, there is a manufacturing support position too, but this usually entails the people who clean equipment and prepare parts. There isn't much technical science knowledge to extract from that. If you need to do that to get your foot in the door, immediately start working on a development plan to get into another department within manufacturing.

Experience working with teams is crucial for the job. The restaurant or service industry is actually great for becoming a technician because you're learning how to work on a schedule with a team to execute an end product.

What skills are needed to be a bioprocess technician?

Attention to detail, being able to juggle multiple tasks at once, the ability to see the big picture, communication with support groups and other customers, learning from mistakes easily.

What's work/industry culture like?

People are extremely proud of their work because of the direct impact it has for patients. Strong integrity to do the job right and reject anything that doesn't meet quality standards. Leadership in this particular company can be hit or miss, but I had great leaders who listened to our wants and needs and were on our side to get what we needed to be happy at work. Lots of great people to work with who are generally super chill, down to earth, good colleagues overall.

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