Education and Training Requirements
In high school, take classes in biology, chemistry, physics, agriculture, natural resources, geography, mathematics, computer science, English, and speech.
Biosecurity monitors typically have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in agriculture, environmental science, plant science, animal science, entomology, ecology, or public health. Some colleges and universities offer degrees, concentrations, and certificates in biosecurity, biosecurity and disaster preparedness, or food safety and biosecurity.
Many colleges and universities offer certificate programs in agricultural biosecurity, food defense, plant biosecurity, and related fields. For example, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey offers a Plant Biosecurity Certificate Program to students who complete the following classes: Plant Science, General Plant Pathology, Insect Biology, and Plant Biosecurity Issues and Technologies. In addition, they must complete a number of elected courses such as Agricultural Entomology and Pest Management, Diseases and Insects of Ornamental Plants, General Plant Pathology Laboratory, and Introduction to Weed Science and Management. Visit https://plantbiology.rutgers.edu/plant-biosecurity for more information. Earning a certificate is an excellent way to explore your interest in a field if you are uncertain about your career path or if you are already working in the field but want to expand your knowledge base.
Other Education or Training
Professional associations, government agencies, and for-profit companies offer continuing education opportunities that help biosecurity professionals stay up to date on emerging threats, safety protocols, and trends in the field. For example, ABSA International offers in-person classes and webinars such as Principles & Practices of Biosafety, Toxin Science and Safety, and Large-scale Biosafety. Visit https://absa.org/topic/ttr for more information.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
IFBA: International Federation of Biosafety Associations offers the professional certification in biosecurity credential to applicants who pass an examination and meet other requirements. Other related credentials are available. Visit https://internationalbiosafety.org/certification/prepare-for-an-exam for more information. Additionally, ABSA International offers the registered biosafety professional and certified biological safety professional credentials to those who meet education and experience requirements. Visit https://absa.org/credentials to learn more. Certification is voluntary, but biosecurity monitors who receive certification typically have higher earnings and better job prospects than those who are not certified.
Some states require those who apply commercial-grade pesticides to be licensed.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
Participation in an internship or another experiential opportunity is typically required to enter the field.
Biosecurity monitors must be observant and keenly attentive to any details that might suggest that invasive species or harmful biological agents are present in an inspection area. They must be decisive, calm under pressure, self-motivated, organized, and good time managers. Other important traits include a positive attitude; the ability to work both as a member of a team and independently, when necessary; and excellent communication skills. Some positions require biosecurity monitors to be able to lift at least 30 pounds and be skilled at using pesticides.