Science, Technology & Environment

Biochemist

Biochemists study the chemical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, and heredity.

  • Entry-level education

    Bachelor’s degree

  • Job outlook

    1 2 3 4 5

What does a Biochemist do?

Biochemists study the chemical principles of living things and of biological processes, such as cell development, growth, and heredity.

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Work activities

Your role and duties as a biochemist would vary depending on the industry you worked in.

In the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, your work could include:

  • developing new products
  • monitoring production
  • quality control
  • checking the safety of existing products.

In a hospital, public health laboratory or research institute, you would be involved in:

  • carrying out tests on blood and other bodily fluids
  • researching the causes of disease
  • exploring new methods of treatment.

In agriculture and the environment, you could work with water authorities, seed companies or local and central government. Your main duties could include:

  • genetically engineering plants to create pest-resistant crops
  • improving the quantity of crops
  • developing and extending the shelf life of produce
  • monitoring the effects of pollution on the environment.

As a biochemist in education, you could work at universities, colleges and schools, or medical, veterinary or dental schools. At university level, you would often combine teaching with research into your area of interest.

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Key skills and interests

To become a biochemist, you would need:

  • a high level of skill and ability in science
  • good problem-solving skills
  • the ability to think creatively
  • accuracy and attention to detail
  • a logical approach to work
  • good practical skills.
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Working hours and conditions

Working Hours

You would normally work standard hours, Monday to Friday. For some jobs you may need to work shifts, and during busy periods you may work longer hours. Part-time work is also available.

Conditions

Your work would mainly take place in a laboratory. In the manufacturing industry, you would also spend some of your time in production areas. You would be expected to wear protective clothing such as a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

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How to become an Biochemist?

Entry Level Education

To become a biochemist you usually have to complete a science or applied science degree at university with a major in biochemistry, environmental chemistry, molecular biology or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent. English, biology, chemistry, earth sciences, mathematics and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.

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Job outlook

  • 1 2 3 4 5

Employment of biochemists is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.

The aging baby-boom population and the demand for lifesaving new drugs and procedures to cure and to prevent disease likely will drive demand for biochemists involved in biomedical research.

Areas of research and development in biotechnology other than health, such as clean energy and genetically engineering crops, are also expected to provide employment growth for biochemists.

Greater demand for clean energy should increase the need for biochemists who research and develop alternative energy sources, such as biofuels. A growing population and rising food prices are expected to fuel the development of genetically engineered crops and livestock that provide greater yields and require fewer resources.

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