Computational Biology is a combination of mathematics, statistics, computer science, and biology. Computational Biologists are responsible for gathering data, then using this data to create models to interpret biological phenomena. They can use this data for a number of purposes; to find patterns and trends, understand how things evolve and change, and even cure diseases.
Examples of projects real Computational Biologists are working on include finding a cure for cancer, helping to stop the spread of deadly diseases like Ebola, and helping develop more sustainable fishing practices.
If you’re analytical with a mind for mathematics, are curious and inquisitive, and want to tackle some of the world’s biggest problems, becoming a Computational Biologist could be perfect for you.
- Analytical and methodical
- Great mathematics skills
- Excellent problem-solver
- Fantastic communication skills
- Technologically literate
- Works well in teams and independently
- Organised and efficient
- Ethical and trustworthy
- Gathering and storing data and statistics
- Conducting in-depth research
- Coding new software and programs
- Designing machine learning algorithms to interpret data
- Practically applying research findings in the real world
- Presenting and interpreting research findings to stakeholders
- Applying for research funding and support
- Working alongside other researchers and scientists
Lifestyle Impact: Moderate
- Part Time opportunities: Low – only around 25% of Life Scientists work part-time (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Average hours for full-time workers: 43 hours a week, which is average (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- Computational Biologists’ salary (average) $100,000* per year (source: payscale.com). *Salaries vary depending on your skills and experience.
- Future career growth: Moderate (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au).
- You will likely be doing most of your work indoors in lab settings.
Computational Biologists are most in demand in these locations:
There is limited information about Computational Biology jobs in Australia. However, we can look at the broader Life Sciences to get a snapshot of demand for Computational Biologists.
Around 8,200 people worked as Life Scientists in Australia in 2020 (source: labourmarketinsights.gov.au), with higher than average demand in the ACT, WA, TAS and QLD.
There are lots of research opportunities available all across the world, particularly in the United States and United Kingdom.
How to become a Computational Biologist in Australia
A Master’s or Doctorate-level qualification in a relevant field is usually desired in order to work as a Computational Biologist in Australia.
Step 1 – Complete Year 12 with a strong focus on English, Maths and Sciences.
Step 2 – Study a relevant undergraduate degree at university, such as a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Computer Science.
Step 3 – Continue your studies with a Master’s level degree. Some fields to consider include Computational Biology, Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Statistics, or Mathematics.
Step 4 – Consider undertaking a PhD in a relevant field.
Step 5 – Gain extensive research and work experience.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What do Computational Biologists do?
Computational Biologists use maths, computer science, statistics and biology to interpret biological phenomena.
Which industries employ Computational Biologists?
Computational Biologists are mostly found in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry.
What options are there for career progression?
You can start out as a research assistant before moving on to lead your own research projects, publish your own works, or even move into academia.
Do I need to go to university to become a Computational Biologist?
Yes, you will need a minimum Bachelor-level qualification to work as a Computational Biologist, though Master- and Doctorate-level qualifications are often desired.
Where do Computational Biologists work?
Computational Biologists work all across Australia, particularly in the ACT, WA, TAS and QLD.
What are 3 things I can do right now to help me become a Computational Biologist?
If you’re in high school and you’d like to find out if a career as a Computational Biologist is right for you, here’s a few things you could do right now:
- Take classes or go online to learn how to code. This is an incredibly valuable skill you will definitely need in a career in Computational Biology.
- Try and find work experience or even volunteer in a science or research-based setting. This will help you start building skills and networks for the future.
- See if you can talk to someone working in the field and get an idea of what a day in their life is like.