Bioinformatics Guide

Bioinformatics Jobs and Bioinformatics Career Guide

Bioinformatics Job Listings:

What skills do I need to start a career in bioinformatics?

According to Cynthia Gibas and Per Jambeck, authors of Developing Bioinformatics Computer Skills, below are the "core requirements" for bioinformaticians:

  • You should have a fairly deep background in some aspect of molecular biology. It can be biochemistry, molecular biology, molecular biophysics, or even molecular modeling, but without a core of knowledge of molecular biology you will, as one person told us, "run into brick walls too often."
  • You must absolutely understand the central dogma of molecular biology. Understanding how and why DNA sequence is transcribed into RNA and translated into protein is vital. (In Chapter 2, Computational Approaches to Biological Questions, we define the central dogma, as well as review the processes of transcription and translation.)
  • You should have substantial experience with at least one or two major molecular biology software packages, either for sequence analysis or molecular modeling. The experience of learning one of these packages makes it much easier to learn to use other software quickly.
  • You should be comfortable working in a command-line computing environment. Working in Linux or Unix will provide this experience.
  • You should have experience with programming in a computer language such as C/C++, as well as in a scripting language such as Perl or Python.

According to Cynthia Gibas and Per Jambeck, there are a variety of other advanced skill sets that can add value to this background: molecular evolution and systematics; physical chemistry--kinetics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics; statistics and probabilistic methods; database design and implementation; algorithm development; molecular biology laboratory methods; and others.