Biochemistry career opportunities cover a broad range of industries and applications. In the medical field, some biochemists perform stem cell research. In agriculture, biochemists help improve crops. Companies need biochemists for research and development related to food products, pharmaceuticals and health and beauty products. Many biochemists work on basic or applied research projects, which are often funded by the federal government via the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency.
Research Project Examples
In basic research projects, researchers seek to expand a body of knowledge, whereas applied research projects focus on applying knowledge to solve a problem. For a biochemist, a basic research project could involve studying genetic mutations at the molecular level to understand how the mutations lead to a variety of diseases. A related applied research project could focus on developing a new drug to prevent the mutation from occurring or to stop it from spreading.
Careers Requiring Bachelor's Degrees
Bachelor's degrees in biochemistry qualify job seekers for positions in research as assistants or lab technicians. In the private sector, companies hire candidates with undergraduate degrees for positions as quality control technicians, inspectors, testing professionals, technical sales representatives and customer service representatives. A bachelor degree can also open the door for teaching at the secondary school level.
Careers Requiring Master's Degrees
Master's degrees enable research assistants to advance into roles as applied researchers, pharmaceutical researchers, research technicians or research chemists. Job seekers looking to move out of research can also find positions in product development, chemical safety engineering and management. Even more opportunities exist for biochemists looking to move beyond strictly science and into the business side of things, with positions available in marketing, sales and administration.
Careers for Ph.D. Holders
A doctorate of philosophy, Ph.D., qualifies a biochemist to lead research or product development projects. A biochemist with a Ph.D. takes responsibility for managing research and laboratory teams, monitoring the work performed, preparing research reports and presenting findings to colleagues. Ph.D. credentials also qualify biochemists for roles as college professors and pave the way for leadership positions as administrators of laboratories and research facilities.
Career Preparation and Outlook
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, biochemists in positions requiring doctorate degrees earned a median salary of $81,480 in 2012, and the projected job growth through 2022 is 19 percent. Preparing for a career in this field involves studying biology, chemistry, physics and math. Computer science courses are also helpful to enable biochemists to gather, record and analyze complex data sets.
2016 Salary Information for Biochemists and Biophysicists
Biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, biochemists and biophysicists earned a 25th percentile salary of $58,630, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $117,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 31,500 people were employed in the U.S. as biochemists and biophysicists.