Biochemists examine the chemical processes that take place inside all living things at a molecular level, so much of their work is in a laboratory. They look at how different parts of a cell work together and how cells communicate with one another. Biochemists work in health and many areas of industry including in agriculture, food, cosmetics, chemicals and drug manufacture. Biochemists can be involved in developing biological-based products, vaccines, antibiotics and cleaning materials etc; some work on genetics and stem cell research. Much of the work of biochemists involves designing and carrying out experiments, observations, use of computers and specialist equipment, analysing data and writing reports. People who work in biochemistry are methodical, logical, observant and analytical; they enjoy solving problems.
What it takes:
Day to day:
Your tasks will vary depending on the industry in which you work. You may be involved in
You could work at a research facility, in a laboratory or at a university.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Although it is possible to start as a technician and work your way up, most people enter a career in biochemistry by taking a degree in biochemistry, biotechnology or medical biochemistry, or another relevant subject. When researching courses, always check course content and specific entry requirements with individual universities.
Sandwich courses are available and any work experience is useful when it comes to applying for vacancies.
Some people specialise in biochemistry at postgraduate level having first taken a broader-based first degree. For research positions, employers often look for postgraduate training.
There are graduate training programmes run by industry; these may combine on-the-job training with part-time postgraduate study. Training in the health service for graduates can be through the NHS Scientist Training Programme.
With the necessary experience, qualifications and competencies, you can work towards Registered or Chartered Scientist status.
Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.