A biochemist will collect, analyze, and interpret results on various topics. Primarily though, a biochemist studies the chemistry of living processes at molecular and cellular levels such as cell development, reproduction, death, and even metabolism. Biochemists study the chemical and physical properties of cells by using electron microscopes.
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How to Become a Biochemist
To become a biochemist one must earn bachelor’s degree or PhD in physics, mathematics, biochemistry, computer science or engineering. First, you will pursue a bachelors degree and while doing so you are encouraged to pursue an internship to gain practical experience. Many colleges can assist with this and offer internships in research labs, collecting cultures, or assisting research as directed by supervisor. According to O*NET OnLine though, most biochemists surveyed hold a doctorate degree.
If you decide to pursue a PhD, it’s important to take on an internship. Acceptance into a doctorate program will take into consideration how much on-the-job experience and education you have. A doctorate degree can take 4-5 years and is heavily research driven. In addition, most require you to write a dissertation on a research topic that is original in biochemistry. Earning a PhD will allow you to do independent research in this career.
Job Description of a Biochemist
A biochemist conducts studies to understand the physical principles of organisms or living cells and their mechanical and electrical energy. They apply chemistry physics, biology, and mathematics applications when doing so. They determine the effects of body functions by analyzing, isolating, or synthesize enzymes or minerals, hormones, vitamins, and allergens. They also analyze mutations in organisms that might lead to disease and find new ways to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
Biochemists work in medical or research laboratories, drug companies, biotechnology companies, and agriculture firms. Many times they are also supervising or teaching graduate students. They may also publish research findings and manage lab teams conducting research. Some biochemists may give presentations at public or scientific-based forums and conferences on new findings or research being done.
Biochemist Career Video Transcript
Researching a new medical cure… unlocking DNA’s secrets… or developing a more resilient variety of wheat… biochemists and biophysicists study living things and the processes that make them grow, change, and die. These scientists design and conduct experiments, such as testing the effects of drugs, or learning how different cells divide and grow. They may study evolution in plants and animals, nerve cell communication, or how proteins work. Advanced technology is often used on the job, including lasers and fluorescent microscopes.
Biophysicists and biochemists prepare technical reports and research papers, and may make recommendations to a research sponsor. They may also lead laboratory teams and ensure the quality of their work. Conducting scientific experiments takes accuracy and precision, as well as strong math skills, good judgment, and perseverance. The ability to communicate and work with a team is just as essential for these scientists. Biochemists and biophysicists typically work in laboratories to conduct experiments… and in offices to analyze the results.
Most work full-time and keep regular hours. Employers include research and development companies, higher education, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development positions. Some entry-level positions may be obtained with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Biochemists and Biophysicists.
National Center for O*NET Development. 19-1021.00. O*NET OnLine.
The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.