A biochemist researches the metabolism, reproduction and growth processes of living organisms to detect previously unknown diseases, develop innovative medications and examine scientific issues related to growing environmental concerns. They may work in a laboratory or in the field, individually or as part of at team. Biochemists apply what they know about cellular processes to discover the effects of various drugs, chemicals and foods on living organisms.
Biochemists typically work with government agencies, pharmaceutical laboratories, private and public health care organizations or universities. This profession requires a detail oriented personality, strong communication skills and the ability to concentrate for extended periods of time.
Biochemists hold a variety of degrees depending on the type of work, including:
In some work environments, lab technicians may apply time on the job toward a higher level position. Many biochemists work in a research laboratory and also teach in a university.
Biochemists analyze and research the functions of living organisms, most often in the field of biotechnology. They must have the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in writing. Their research often leads to the development of new drugs, the eradication of pollutants and other environmental concerns.
Biochemists generally interact with other scientific professionals, but may also spend significant time researching independently, depending on the job description. Some biochemists move from research to management and administration as they mature in their scientific field.
Biochemists may work in a variety of professional environments, such as:
Biochemists operate under strict deadlines and specific conditions when conducting research. Some biochemists are required to write grants and present grant proposals to fund research projects. All of these scientists communicate their findings in both written and oral presentations.
Biochemist job opportunities are expected to grow by 37% through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor statistics. Much of this growth relates to the onslaught of new diseases, continued environmental concerns, governmental needs for biological warfare research and other related clinical trials.
In 2008, the average biochemist salary was almost $83,000 with pay rates ranging from $44,000 to $139,000 annually. Almost half of biochemists work for the Federal, State or local government. Due to this fact and also that many biochemists are involved in long-term research projects, these professionals are less likely to lose their jobs during recessions or economic downturns.