Biochemists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development positions. Bachelor’s and master’s degree holders are qualified for some entry-level positions in biochemistry and biophysics. Most Ph.D. holders in biochemistry and biophysics have bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry or a related field, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. Many schools have bachelor degree programs in biochemistry, but few schools have bachelor degree programs in biophysics.
In addition to completing required courses in biology and chemistry, students must typically take courses in mathematics, physics, and computer science. Courses in mathematics and computer science are important for biochemists, who must be able to do complex data analysis. Most bachelor degree programs include required laboratory coursework. Additional laboratory coursework is excellent preparation for graduate school or for getting an entry-level position in industry. Students also can gain valuable laboratory experience through internships with prospective employers such as pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers.
Ph.D. programs typically include two years of advanced coursework in topics such as toxicology, genetics, and proteomics (the study of proteins). Graduate students also spend a lot of time conducting laboratory research. It typically takes four to six years to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry or biophysics.
Most biochemistry Ph.D. holders begin their careers in a temporary postdoctoral research position, which typically lasts two to three years. During their postdoctoral appointment, they work with experienced scientists as they continue to learn about their specialties or develop a broader understanding of related areas of research. Postdoctoral positions frequently offer the opportunity to publish research findings. A solid record of published research is essential to get a permanent position doing basic research, especially for those seeking a permanent college or university faculty position.
Biochemists must be able to conduct scientific experiments and analyses with accuracy and precision. They draw conclusions from experimental results through sound reasoning and judgment. They typically work on research teams and need to be able to work well with others toward a common goal. Many also serve as team leaders and must be able to motivate and direct other team members. They regularly use complex equations and formulas in their work, and they need a broad understanding of mathematics, including calculus and statistics.
Scientific research involves substantial trial and error, and biochemists must not become discouraged in their work. Biochemists use scientific experiments and analysis to find solutions to complex scientific problems. They frequently give presentations and must be able to explain their research to others. They write memos, reports, and research papers that explain their findings. They typically receive greater responsibility and independence in their work as they gain experience. They may lead research teams and have control over the direction and content of projects.
Some biochemists move into managerial positions, often as natural sciences managers. Those who pursue management careers spend much of their time on administrative tasks, such as preparing budgets and schedules.
What are Biochemists like?
Based on our pool of users, biochemists tend to be predominately investigative people.
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Biochemists by Strongest Interest Archetype
Based on sample of 379 Sokanu users
Are Biochemists happy?
as moderately happy among
careers. Overall they rank in the 61st percentile of careers for satisfaction scores.
Biochemist Career Satisfaction by Dimension
Percentile among all careers
Education History of Biochemists
The most common degree held by biochemists is Biochemical Sciences.
7% of biochemists had a degree in biochemical sciences before becoming biochemists. That is over 13 times the average across all careers.
Chemistry graduates are the second most common among biochemists, representing 3% of biochemists in the Sokanu user base, which is 3.6 times the average.
Biochemist Education History
This table shows which degrees people earn before becoming a Biochemist, compared to how often those degrees are obtained by people who earn at least one post secondary degree.