BioWork FAQ

WHAT IS A PROCESS TECHNICIAN?

Process technicians are involved in every step in the process of manufacturing a biotechnology product and work in many different environments.

A Process Technician may operate, monitor, and control biotechnology manufacturing equipment or equipment that packages and labels a finished product; clean and sterilize production equipment and glassware, mix solutions, and prepare media; mix active drug ingredients with other agents to make finished drug tablets, capsules, liquids, syrups, or ointments.

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

Targeted Job: Entry-level Process Technician
Targeted Industries: Chemical, traditional pharmaceutical, and biopharmaceutical manufacturing
Targeted Workforce: Those with at least a high school diploma or GED who are unemployed; transitioning, especially from other manufacturing sectors; or starting a new career.

In the RTP area, a BioWork Certificate is often required or preferred within posted job descriptions for process technicians within the pharmaceutical industry. 

TASKS OF PROCESS TECHNICIANS: IS THE JOB RIGHT FOR YOU?

  • Operating, monitoring, and controlling biotechnology manufacturing equipment or equipment that packages and labels the finished product
  • Cleaning and sterilizing production equipment and glassware
  • Mixing active drug ingredients with other agents to make finished drug tablets, capsules, liquids, syrups or ointments
  • If you like an active job, are good with your hands and enjoy problem solving, this job may be right for you.

JOB-SEEKING AND CAREER PLANNING

  • Wake Tech's Human Resources Development (HRD) Division offers a wide range of classes to support job seekers.  These classes include topics such as resume writing, interview skills, and social media such as LinkedIn.  All students and job seekers are eligible to take HRD classes for a nominal fee.  Those unemployed or underemployed and those who have received notice of pending layoff may have the fees for HRD classes waived.  
  • Career Pathways in Biotechnology”, a booklet for students interested in a career in biotechnology, can be found on the NC Biotechnology website. The booklet includes a description of the job skills, duties, and education required for a variety of biotech jobs, including process techs.
  • Job postings in the pharma/biopharma field, as well as a list of biotech companies by region, can be found on the North Carolina Biotechnology Center’s website.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

WHAT IS BIOWORK?

  • BioWork is a 136-hour non-credit certificate program that prepares students for entry-level jobs as a process technician in the chemical, pharmaceutical, or biopharmaceutical industry.  BioWork was developed under the direction of the pharmaceutical/biopharmaceutical industry and is often preferred or required for entry-level process technician jobs.  

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WHAT ARE THE PREREQUISITES FOR BIOWORK?

  • Students who wish to register for BioWork must possess a high school diploma or GED, must attend an information session, and must pass a placement test in reading and math.

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HOW MUCH DOES THE COURSE COST?

  • $288 (including textbooks)

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WHAT DOES THE COURSE CONTENT COVER?

  • There are 9 units in BioWork.  About 25% of the class takes place in the lab
    • Unit 1:  Your New Job is an orientation to the process-manufacturing industries.
    • Unit 2:  Working Safely covers basic safety attitudes and approaches.
    • Unit 3:  Building Quality into the Product emphasizes the importance of making quality products.
    • Unit 4:  Measuring Process Variables provides an introduction to the metric system and the measurement of variables critical to controlling processes.
    • Unit 5:  Transforming Matter covers a review of the basic chemistry needed by process technicians.
    • Unit 6:  Learning the Nuts and Bolts provides information about biomanufacturing equipment,systems, and plant utilities.
    • Unit 7:  Controlling the Process covers the basic principles of process control systems.
    • Unit 8:  Maintaining Sterile Processes introduces the basics of mircoorganisms, contamination, and the concept of working in aseptic manufacturing environments.
    • Unit 9:  Growing Living Cells covers bioprocess manufacturing principles and operations.
    • Unit 10: Job seeking skills including resume development, searching for jobs, and interview practice

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WHAT WILL THE BIOWORK COURSE PREPARE ME TO DO?

In addition to learning material in the textbook, students conduct laboratory experiments and practice team work, which is an essential part of the biomanufacturing industry.  BioWork graduates enter the workforce ready to learn company operations and tasks.  Their classroom and laboratory experience exposes them to a basic knowledge of:

  • An awareness of the importance of safety, both for the workers and product
  • Complying with cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practices)
  • Following an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)
  • Reading an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet)
  • Completing a batch record
  • Using the metric system
  • Using common pumps and valves
  • Reading gauges
  • Reading a process diagram
  • Making chemical solutions
  • Preparing growth media
  • Adjusting pH

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IS BIOWORK AVAILABLE AT ALL WAKE TECH LOCATIONS?

BioWork is taught at the Western Wake campus only.

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HOW OFTEN IS BIOWORK OFFERED?

It is offered at least 3 times per semester during the Spring, Summer and Fall.  It is offered as a day section (9am-1pm, 3 days per week, for 12 weeks), as an evening section (6-10pm, 3 nights per week, for 12 weeks), and as a hybrid-distance class (6-10pm, 1 night per week, for 15 weeks).  In addition, a hybrid-distance class that meets online for 12 weeks and in the lab (on site) for one week (M-F, 8am-5pm) is also offered several times a year.  This last hybrid format is especially helpful for those who must commute a great distance.

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WHAT IS THE BIOWORK HYBRID-DISTANCE CLASS?

In the hybrid-distance class, students cover the same material as those in the traditional class; however, they complete each week’s textbook assignments on their own time and meet either once a week to complete the laboratory assignments and take unit tests or complete the lab activities in one continuous week, M-F, from 8am-5pm, at the end of the course.

The hybrid-distance students access the Wake Tech website to receive their assignments (Moodle).

The hybrid-distance class is designed for a task-oriented, self-motivated person with excellent reading skills and high-speed internet access.  

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DOES WAKE TECH PROVIDE A JOB-PLACEMENT SERVICE FOR BIOWORK GRADUATES?

Wake Tech does not offer a job-placement service.  However, the HRD Department of Wake Tech does offer a varity of job seeking skills courses.  These courses emphasize the importance of networking, industry specific resumes, interview skills, searching for jobs online, and the use of LinkedIn.  In addition, BioWork graduates are provided with a directory of staffing agencies as well as useful industry information.  Within the course students are helped to prepare industry specific resumes, learn job seeking skills, and practice for interviews.

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DOES WAKE TECH PROVIDE ADDITIONAL COURSES FOR BIOWORK GRADUATES AS PART OF A CAREER PATHWAY?

Wake Tech has 2 additional programs of interest to the BioWork graduate.

The BioNetwork Capstone Center on the Centennial Campus of NC State offers short courses that provide hands-on training in biomanufacturing (bioprocessing and analytical lab skills) in an environment that mirrors industry.  These courses are available to BioWork students and are deemed as equivalent to industry experience by some companies.  Several certificates are available, including one in biomanufacturing.  For additional information, call 919-515-0232.

Wake Tech also offers an associate’s degree in applied sciences (AAS) in Biopharmaceutical Technology. Major emphasis is placed on manufacturing processes and quality assurance.

WHAT IS THE STATE CERTIFICATION EXAM?

The North Carolina Biotechnology Partnership provides an optional certification exam to students that have successfully completed BioWork.  The exam costs $55 and is offered through Castle Worldwide.  Wake Tech usually offers the exam twice a year (May and December).  Completing BioWork provides a certificate; passing the exam provides certification.  

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