Biochemical engineers combine the problem solving and theories of engineering with biological sciences, most often designing products and processes that improve the quality of life. This type of engineer usually works in a laboratory setting and creatively applies science principles to create food, medicine and other biological products.
Becoming a biochemical engineer includes developing a strong understanding of lab procedures and engineering processes. Strong problem-solving skills greatly benefit a biochemical engineer. Biochemical engineers have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree. Most commonly, that degree will be in chemical or biological engineering, or a related chemistry or biology field. It’s not unusual for biochemical engineers to have a master’s degree, which improves career opportunities and salary growth.
Many biochemical engineers work hands-on in a laboratory for pharmaceutical companies or the food industry. For management positions, a minimum of a master’s degree is usually required. Professional Engineering certification is available for biochemical engineers with a Ph.D.
Exceptional verbal and written skills, as well as the ability to think out of the box, greatly benefit a biochemical engineering candidates. Although this is usually a laboratory based position, working with or leading a scientific team would not be atypical. Biochemical engineers also incorporate strong computer and data analyzing skills.
Knowledge of engineering and biological processes is utilized daily by biochemical engineers. Designing new or improved pharmaceuticals, creating healthier sweeteners and preservation for foods, developing natural fuels and cures for disease are just a few of the responsibilities often given to biochemical engineers.
A biochemical engineer may do some or all of the following:
Pharmaceutical and health companies are most likely to hire biochemical engineers. The food industry also employs a significant number of this type of engineer.
The Department of Labor expects chemical engineering to grow faster than average over the next decade. With the continuous desire for new pharmaceuticals, environmentally safe products and healthier food processes, biochemical engineers are sure to be in high demand.
According to the 2006 Census, chemical engineers earn an average of over $78,000 a year. With advanced degrees and experience, this salary may easily transition to more than $100,000.