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Biology student in lab

Start Your Biotechnology Career at Santiago Canyon College

​One of Santiago Canyon College’s newer programs is biotechnology, offering students a jump-start on a STEM career even prior to graduation. Completion of this certification will allow students to get into the burgeoning biotechnology industry to begin a rewarding career.

After just three classes, you can receive a Biotechnology Lab Assistant Certificate of Proficiency and begin working in an entry-level position at a biotech company. This certificate is stackable, so a student can take more classes within the program to obtain different certificates, including the Biotechnology Technician Certificate and Biotechnology Biomanufacturing Technician Certificate. There is also an Associate of Science degree offered in biotechnology. The degree has two options for emphasis, general or food safety.

Biotechnology looks at practical uses of DNA and living molecules. By doing this work, biotechnology professionals can produce large molecule-based fuels, food, medicine, and other valuable industrial and consumer products.

Industries that a student with one of these certificates can work in are:

  • Biomanufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Nutraceutical manufacturing
  • Biomedical devices
  • Medical testing and reagent development
  • Research equipment development and manufacturing
  • Environmental technologies
  • Forensic technologies
  • Bioinformatics
  • Clinical lab science
  • Food processing and manufacturing

In 2012, over 1,800 companies in Southern California identified as being in the biotechnology industry. The greater Los Angeles area, which includes Orange County, makes up 39 percent of all the biotechnology industry in California. Between 2013 and 2014, biotechnology saw the largest increase in salaries by 13 percent. In biotechnology fields, workers can expect to make anywhere from $23,000 to $100,000 a year. Although this is a growing field, there are not enough qualified people to fill these new positions.

Anson Lui, SCC biology professor and biotechnology program coordinator, collaborated on the development of this program with other surrounding community colleges and an advisory board made up of industry professionals. Lui had heard from associates and relatives who work in biotechnology fields that there was a need in Orange County for qualified entry-level workers. Through this program, biotechnology companies do not need to spend time training new hires to be able to function in their job because those workers will already have gained that information through the courses offered in this program. “We are providing for the first time a way for high school and community college students to obtain a set of stackable certificates through our new program, which qualifies them for entry into local STEM field jobs,” said Lui.

Bioengineering major Olivia Leland plans to also receive an Associate of Science in Biotechnology with an emphasis in food science. Leland discovered the courses while setting her schedule one semester and took the class for the lab experience she would gain from the program. The fact that students get certified to work in a lab and gain the necessary experience with lab equipment is what Leland says will set the students in the program apart from their peers when they go into the industry to look for jobs. Leland said, “What I have taken from these classes will benefit me for years to come.”

For more information on the biotechnology program, contact the coordinator Anson Lui at 714-628-5060 or visit