Overview of the Biotechnology & Life Sciences Industry
British Columbia has one of the largest biotechnology and life sciences sectors in Canada. The province plays an important role in the growing global life sciences industry.
Sectors of the Biotechnology and Life Sciences Industry
Chart from BioTalent.ca
LifeSciences BC published an overview of British Columbia’s life sciences industry in 2012. Some facts about the industry:
- Number of life sciences organizations in British Columbia: 310
- Total estimated expenditures: $902 million
- Total estimated employment: 14,000 people
- Total estimated wages and salaries paid: $570 million
- Average annual life sciences industry wage: $68,000
- Total estimated impact on provincial GDP: $1.03 billion
The life sciences sector in British Columbia includes a broad range of companies, government agencies, healthcare research organizations and academic partners.
Some of the more prominent companies and organizations in B.C. include:
- Genome British Columbia
- Amgen Inc.
- Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
- Centre for Drug Research and Development
- Zymeworks Inc.
- BC Cancer Agency
Studies report that hiring and retaining workers has become a serious issue for employers. Across Canada 33% of biotechnology and life sciences employers report skills shortages and 20% have job vacancies in their companies. In addition, many more workers are soon to retire.
Newcomers to Canada are seen as a key source of talent as employers seek to meet their hiring needs. The industry has responded by creating a number of programs to attract new workers.
One such initiative is the Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program program. This program helps you understand how to obtain credential recognition, education and association membership in order to establish your career. It also provides assistance in overcoming language and cultural barriers in order to succeed in the Canadian workplace.
BioTalent Canada has a Foreign Professionals webpage that provides links to career tools, training opportunities and information about the local labour market to help you prepare for a career in the biotechnology industry.
For more information on the Biotechnology and Life Sciences sector see:
- Paving the Way: Facilitating Career Paths for Newcomers in the Canadian Bio-economy. BioTalent Canada. 2017
Occupations in Biotechnology & Life Sciences
The biotechnology and life sciences sector is made up of numerous occupations spread across multiple industries including:
The majority of BC companies focus their business on research and development and there are many jobs in these areas.
Jobs in High Demand:
Unfilled Jobs by Employment Level
|Research & Development||7.9%||50%||42.1%|
Source: Buildforce Canada
Jobs being filled by Internationally Educated Professionals, 2013
|Research and Development||25.0%|
Common occupations in the industry include:
- Biologists & Related Scientists (NOC 2121)
- Chemists (NOC 2112)
- Biological Technologists & Technicians (NOC 2221)
- Chemical Technologists & Technicians (NOC 2211)
When looking for work, these occupations may be listed under different titles.
Comparison of NOC Code Titles with Actual Occupation Titles Given
|Biologists and Related Scientists
|Assay Development & Testing Scientist
Native Plant Ecologist
|Chemist (NOC 2112)||Quality Control & Research Chemist
|Chemical Technologists & Technicians
Assistant Flavour Technologist
Chemistry Preparation Technologist
Controlled Substance Officer
|Biological Technologists & Technicians
Science and Technology Product Specialist
For detailed information on many of the occupations in the biotechnology and life sciences sector, including job description, educational requirements for working in BC, salary, and more, see:
- Bio-Economy Career Profiles
[Free registration required]
- WorkBC Career Profiles
[search by job title]
Hiring Forecast by Region
Approximately 70% of British Columbia’s biotechnology and life sciences industry is based in Metro Vancouver
The largest numbers of jobs in this industry are located in Metro Vancouver. Employment opportunities can also be found on Vancouver Island and in the Thompson-Okanagan regions.
For more information about British Columbia’s 7 economic regions see:
Online Job Postings
Creating a List of Potential Employers
You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the biotechnology and life sciences industry in British Columbia. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.
- Business in Vancouver. Book of Lists.
Biggest Life Sciences companies in BC
Also available at the Central Library 338.9711 B97b
- Reference Canada
Go to the “Reference Canada” database, choose the “Custom Search” button, and select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography. In the top search box enter “biotechnology” and click LOOKUP. Select the appropriate headings. Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).
Still looking for more information? Try looking at the following resources: