Bioinformatics merges the career fields of molecular biology and information technology. A bioinformatics analyst or programmer uses knowledge from computer science to manipulate and process complex research and medical data. Data management involves capturing information pertaining to biological and cellular activities based on DNA research. Employment positions in bioinformatics are found at research centers, universities, private companies and government institutions. Technology positions in bioinformatics include engineer, programmer, analyst or simulation programmer.
A bioinformatics programmer or analyst is responsible for building programs by using computational formulas to determine outcomes based on biological projects or research. The individual may develop software, creating query routines and building relational databases. The individual must also possess knowledge of algorithms. Algorithms are used to solve problems based on information and data using different calculations.
Features and Job Functions
A programmer or analyst in the bioinformatics field typically works with medical personnel. An individual can be assigned to provide information systems' support for a laboratory or research project. He or she must have knowledge of medical information systems. Laboratory personnel can request certain programs to be written to examine a molecular process and the individual must be highly skilled in using various scientific programming languages.
Technology personnel in the field of bioinformatics work in an office or laboratory setting. The individual typically works 40 hours a week and is paid a salary commensurate with his or her experience. The individual must be able to communicate with research and laboratory technicians and adapt to medical language used in the environment. Bioinformatics analysts and programmers also troubleshoot applications and develop routines to improve methods of data mining and extraction. Often, they will meet with laboratory, medical or research personnel to develop strategies for acquiring software and hardware for research purposes.
An analyst or programmer in bioinformatics must possess workgroup management skills. The individual must be able to translate research data into transaction exception reports for personnel. The analyst or programmer must be willing to “cross the line” and enter into the world of medical science and may be required to take courses and seminars outside of his or her occupational realm to understand certain processes used by medical personnel. Skills in mathematics, biological sciences and molecular biology are a must.
Education and Salary
A systems analyst or programmer in bioinformatics must possess a bachelor's or master's degree in computer science. As of June 2010, according to Payscale.com, the average median income of a senior programmer analyst with five to nine years experience ranges from $63,117 to $85,797.