Passing the CCRP Exam for a Biotech Career

To get a great career in Biotechnology, you’ll need certifications. One of the most important is the CCRP exam, given by SoCRA. Biotech Insider has a great collection of tips and tricks to help you do great on the exam.

  • The exam asks basic information and give you a case to look for mistakes – like “the consent form was not signed before a study intervention.” There are some multiple choice questions like ___ number of members for an IRB, or True/false – one member of an IRB must be a lay person. It is a very basic exam, if you have been monitoring for a year or took any research courses you should do fine.
  • The examiners allow a calculator, so be sure to take one for drug compliance.
  • Become a member of SOCRA so that you will start receiving their magazine SOCRA Source. SOCRA Souce is very well written and has a large volume of useful information. Within SOCRA Source is the Self Study section that always contains 10 questions with an answer key in the back. While preparing to take my certification I found these questions to be more helpful than any other guide.
  • Study every single chance you get. Read the FDA Information Sheets, ICH Guidelines, GCP, Declaration of Helzinki, etc. You should also the NIH’s online certfiication/exam for human research subject protections. Any additional information helps. Read the definitions of key terms a million times. The test requires you to apply your knowledge and a lot of questions are tricky.
  • Abstracting Information from Medical Records: what you need to know how to do is to look at a patient’s medical history, cross the t’s, dot the i’s, make connections. Which medication was prescribed for which indication? When? Why? Do the scans, lab results, etc match diagnoses? It is important that the patient underwent cosmetic surgery to remove a lump on the thigh, or was the lamonectomy important and if so, why? What was wrong with the patient that required the procedure? Is that diagnosis in the chart?
  • Give yourself time to prepare so that you don’t have to cram everything last minute. Most of the questions are from the SoCRA study guide. Do read the section on FDA Information sheets, many questions were from that. Also if you have access to RAN Flash cards, they help to re-enforce your concepts.

By following these steps, you should be able to do well on this test and be on your way to a Biotechnology Career!


How to Break In to the Biotech Industry

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry that is redefining the boundaries of science. When it comes time to land a job, certain steps can be taken to increase your chances of breaking into the biotech industry and becoming a sales representative.

Prior to seeking employment in the biotech industry or as a sales representative, you first need to determine which of the three broad classes you are interested in. Those broad classes are medical, agricultural, or industrial biotechnology. The type of field you select will guide you in planning your future so that you can prepare yourself for getting the very best education that you can.

Stand Out From the Basic Education
Your education is the one of, if not the most important factor in finding employment after you have finished school. Knowing what type and field of study you will pursue when entering in to the study of biotechnology will clarify which prerequisites are required, as well as what deeper learning will be essential to your career. Medical, agricultural and industrial technology each have specialized knowledge and skill sets that are needed and having a solid background in these specialized areas is vital. Sales skills are a necessary attribute for a sales representative.

In addition to specialized education, you will need a firm grounding in basic biology. You will also need to have an understanding of recombinant DNA technologies, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry as well as other common sciences.

Once you are clear about the course of study you will pursue you will have a good idea on just how long your education will take. A rough estimate is, 4-6 years for a senior research scientist in a university to obtain a PH.D. This is then followed by a few years for a post-doctorate. Another route is 3-4 years for an associate technician with a Bachelor’s and then an additional 2-3 years for a master’s degree.

Be in High Demand for a Great Job
In addition to your all-around education, you will want to add some additional skills to make you an irresistible catch for a sales representative position in the biotech industry. Adding these to your list of accomplishments will likely ensure that you will be get noticed and considered for a job. You will want to show an aptitude for mathematics, possess certain computer skills, and have some management skills and marketing skills as well.

Membership in Professional Organizations
When it comes to seeking a new job, who you know is always the best policy. Join professional organizations so that you can meet other group members and leaders among the industry. Aim to develop a respectful relationship with targeted members in the organization and seek out leaders to mentor you and give you job seeking advice. The organization most likely will issue a newsletter where jobs may be advertised, available grants disclosed, workshops listed and industry
conferences and updates announced. It should also contain the name of a sales representative that you could contact for more information. The main reason for joining is that this will greatly help you with networking since you can meet other fellow members by attending the meetings and conferences that are arranged by the organization. Having an extensive contact list is always a plus.

Attend all available conferences that are in your nearby area, this will help expand your list of contacts so you will quickly develop more professional relationships. Having a sales representative as an ally is also a smart move. At the conferences, there will be many biotech companies and associated employers that you will be able to communicate with and learn more about the company and what they expect of their potential employees. This is an excellent opportunity to speak to someone inside the company and develop rapport. The companies are usually hiring and this
gives you the opportunity to meet the employers face to face and possibly get considered for the job. You should collect contact information from all companies you may be interested in working with and plan out a strategy to stay in touch so that the employer will remember you when a job does become available.

Internship/Summer Jobs
If you are currently a college student, you should find out if your university offers internships or summer jobs available. Take action on finding out this information early as these positions are in high demand and the positions can be filled very quickly. You might not receive pay for these jobs but you will gain valuable experience, and experience is what the employers are looking for. Reach out to your professors and speak with your school adviser or Dean to see if they know where you could possibly be hired as an intern. There are also some biotech companies that offer short term project work during the summer and most likely will pay a small stipend.

Modern Technology
Believe it or not, the Google search engine can be conducted to locate many available jobs. The internet is a very resourceful tool that you can use to find work to start your career in biotechnology. For those in nursing jobs, healthcare jobs, science jobs, as well as pharmacy will generally find themselves in a good position to pursue a career in biotechnology. A sales representative may also discover that biotechnology is a good fit as well.

How to Get Employed in the Biotechnology Industry

In a world where more and more people are looking for jobs, it’s important to think of the industries that are booming. Biotechnology is an up and coming science where biology, physics, chemistry, information technology and engineering come together to make significant strides in the way that we live our lives. When you’re looking for biotechnology jobs, you’re able to do so easier than ever before.

The number of biotechnology companies is increasing exponentially. While many other industries are struggling, this area of science is flourishing around the country. This means that there are more opportunities to be employed as a sales representative, a scientist, an analyst and various other positions within these companies. The interesting thing about biotechnology is that it’s not just scientists in white lab coats. The number of positions employed throughout the biotechnology industry is significant. The companies are looking for well-rounded individuals who have a specialty in such things as:

  • Farming
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Biofuels
  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Nursing

Every company in the biotech industry is trying to achieve a different goal. Some are working on cloning while others are working on better crops, new medical treatments and alternative fuels.

The better way to get employed with healthcare jobs and Pharma Manager jobs in the industry is to be connected to others who are in the industry. Those who are already working in the science jobs are able to bring others in much easier. This means that you want to consider setting up a professional profile for yourself on LinkedIn and Twitter. Connecting with industry professionals will be one of the best moves for you. Whether you’ve been in the industry for a while and are currently unemployed or you’re trying to get into a position for the first time, it will help to connect with others in the field that you want to specialize in. The more well-rounded you are, the better it will be. Once you figure out what your specialty is, stay educated. This industry is constantly evolving. If you’re not up on the latest breakthroughs, it will be hard to prove to an employer that you have what it takes. Attend the seminars and workshops around the country.

Whether you’re looking to be a sales representative or a scientist, remember that you have to make applications. Do you homework on the various biotech companies out there and send off your resume. Most importantly, show that you understand the company by talking about their current projects.

Network Your Way to a Biotech Career

TERMINATION. The word itself has different meanings depending on the context. In the situation where it is used to describe the end of one’s employment, there is but one interpretation; he or she will be unemployed and finding a new job will not be easy. With a larger percentage of corporations in America undergoing reorganization or “downsizing”, a greater number of employees, including biotechnology engineers and scientists, will see themselves in this unfortunate position. Once the initial shock of “termination” wears off, it is often replaced with a feeling of panic; ‘How do I find a new Biotech job?’ Relax. There is a very effective method that can be used to conduct a successful job search. It is known as NETWORKING. If used effectively, networking can be a rewarding experience which will often result in a better position in terms of job satisfaction and salary.

Where does one begin? First and foremost, it is important to understand what networking is all about. For many people in the biotechnology community it involves an entirely new or different philosophy for conducting a job search. It means researching a company to determine if that firm would have interest in your background. It means contacting a knowledgeable person who may be aware of biotech career opportunities, and finally, it involves speaking to that person with the primary intention of obtaining advice. This is one of the key points pertaining to networking; you are contacting a prospective employer not for a job, but for advice. By writing that person, you are telling him or her that you value their opinion and you are requesting their advice in seeking companies which may have interest in your background.

In the last few years I have had the opportunity to speak with many people who work in biotech. In most cases, when asked how they planned to undertake their job search, the response I received often sounded something like this: “check the newspapers, respond to ads and contact recruiters”. Six months later, when their job search was stalled and a feeling of hopelessness had set in, they realized that something was drastically wrong.

A recent study conducted by the American Society for Metals (ASM) revealed that the majority of biotechnology jobs are placed through referrals. Networking is your best opportunity for finding a job in Biotechnology, and by relying on the most common methods, you can expect minimal results. Perhaps the following will offer further clarification. Assume you see an advertisement in your local Sunday paper for a position which you consider to be applicable to your expertise and interests. You respond with a cover letter and attach a copy of your resume.

Consider the following scenario at the company which placed the ad. The person responsible for opening the resumes may be a secretary or receptionist. Assume this person has been given guidelines and instructed to make three piles; yes, no, and maybe. The following profile describes the number of resumes received on a particular day:

        Day 1 – 15 resumes
        Day 2 – 25 resumes
        Day 3 – 50 resumes
        Day 4 – 35 resumes
        Day 5 – 25 resumes

On the subject of recruiters there is a range of possibilities. In most cases they will not be interested in you unless they have a “job order” for which you could be a candidate. A recruiter I know who specializes in civil engineers told me he receives 100 or more unsolicited resumes a week. Most firms consist of a couple of people with minimum staff support. Therefore, they rarely have the time to review every resume that comes across their desk.

Chances are that you have been contacted by a recruiter in the past. Why? Recruiters are networking experts. When they receive a “job order”, they contact people who they know within the biotech industry to obtain new leads. If you had contact with a recruiter in the past, he may have called you about a particular job he had in mind. If you were not interested, chances are he asked you if could “suggest” someone he could contact. This is networking.

Before you begin your job search, you will obviously need a resume. In addition, you will need to develop letter writing skills that match your personality and style. The primary purpose of a networking letter is to convey a message that you value that person’s opinion, and hence perhaps he or she could assist you as you conduct your job search. Keep in mind that you are not asking your contact for a job; you are requesting their help in locating names of individuals or companies which may have interest in someone with your background. Who should you choose to write to within a particular firm? That depends on many factors; the size of the firm , the “accessibility” of your contact, the nature of their business, etc. If you feel more comfortable approaching the VP of Biotechnology rather than a Biotechnology Supervisor, write to the former. Try and contact the person responsible for hiring someone with your expertise.

Once you have mailed your letter, wait a week or two before following up. It typically takes a few phone calls to finally contact the person. It is critical that you do not give up; the leads that person gives you could be considerable. The worst that can happen is that the person tells you your letter was received, but they cannot offer any advice. Thank him for his time and go on to the next contact. In the event he or she can suggest leads, make sure you carefully note the information provided, and act upon the suggestions or leads. In other words, the process starts over again. Finally, if the person has been considerate and taken the time to assist you, I strongly recommend you write and thank them. Not only do you appreciate their help, you show them what type of person you are!

As you repeat the networking process over and over again, you realize several things. To begin with you are progressing in your job search every day. You are controlling where your resume is circulated, and you have a “hands-on” approach to contacting potential employers. Note how this compares to answering advertisements or using recruiters. Sooner or later you begin to speak with people who are interested in your qualifications, and will want to meet with you to discuss employment.

Networking can be a very rewarding experience and for those who have found new positions via this technique, no other method compares. It takes time to develop your letter writing skills, to feel comfortable telephoning the person you have written, and following up on the suggestions given. Networking is a full time job – yet the rewards may very possibly offer more Biotechnology opportunities than you had at your previous position.