Bioethics Degree Jobs for Bioethics Majors

A bioethics degree can open up many career choices for graduates. Bioethics is a relatively new academic discipline, involving the study of ethical issues raised by biological and medical science. The large number of new advances in these sciences has greatly raised the profile of bioethics as an important part of forming social, religious, industrial and legislative policies. The field also involves investigation of industry practices.

A bioethicist is essentially an analyst of issues created by technology and industrial practice. The heated public debates regarding genetically modified food, human cloning and other important issues are typical examples of the role of bioethics in society. Bioethicists are trained to analyze and provide the logical framework of ethical practices in these situations.

Career Roles for a Bioethics Degree

Most bioethicists are also specialists in their scientific fields. The formal study of bioethics is usually related to another field of scientific or technological qualifications. Careers in bioethics are very often based on an individual’s professional qualifications and experience. A doctor of biology, for example, will become a bioethical authority in that field, based on his or her expertise and understanding of the ethical and practical issues.

Bioethicists work on all sides of ethical issues. They act as advisers to organizations and, in some cases, advocates or opponents of biological or medical practices and technologies. They may also act in these roles in relation to biological or medical health issues created by other forms of technology, like nanotechnology or food technology.

These roles involve the following:

  • Research programs: These are sometimes intensive studies of opposing data regarding a bioethical issue, including additional data collection and sometimes research where information is lacking.
  • Advisory/consultancy roles: Bioethicists are employed as advisers and consultants by governments, industries and other organizations to provide briefings and information to policymakers. They provide technical knowledge and explain scientific issues in addition to conducting bioethical analyses. They also consult with technology providers on the ethical issues of their technology and practices. Industry groups and corporations may employ bioethicists to develop supporting arguments in favor of their technologie, and advise regarding ethical issues in the community.
  • Community roles: Bioethicists are frequently public spokespeople on major issues. They act either independently or on behalf of organizations. Many bioethicists are also published authors and advocates for professional and philanthropic associations and community organizations.
  • Academic training: Bioethics has become a fundamental professional issue in the sciences and medicine. Therefore it has created a demand for trainers in the discipline.
  • Policy writers: Bioethicists are frequently employed as policy writers, as well as policy advisers. They work with policymakers on policy development and review.

With a bioethics degree, you could serve in one or more of these functions.

Career Dynamics

Bioethics is a profession in which the services provided may involve protracted work in a particular area or job, or a more mobile mode like a consultancy. Because this is an issue- and technology-driven career path, the roles of the bioethicist can change considerably. Job mobility is quite common and natural in consultancies but almost nonexistent in the community-based roles, which may center on fundamental long-term issues like environmental sustainability, food safety or health care.

Networking and specialization can also influence the career dynamics. Professional relationships in particular sectors or areas of interest usually produce channel career progression into that area. If you are working toward a bioethics degree, try to start networking before you actually graduate.