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Biochemist

Mar 2023
Career of the Month

Key Facts

Starter Salary
£25,800
Experienced Salary
£60,000
Working Hours
38-40 hours per week

Overview

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

What it takes:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • analytical thinking skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
  • observational skills
  • complex problem-solving skills

Day to day

Day to day:

Your tasks will vary depending on the industry in which you work. You may be involved in

  • planning and conducting scientific experiments
  • developing new analytical techniques
  • using computer software and mathematical modelling
  • supervising lab teams and control the quality of work
  • designing or building lab equipment
  • writing scientific articles, preparing reports and presenting research findings
  • following official lab procedures

You could work at a research facility, in a laboratory or at a university.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Become

You will need

  • An A-level (or equivalent) in maths, physics or biology
  • An A-level (or equivalent) in chemistry
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in English
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in maths
  • GCSEs (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in at least 2 science subjects (or double science)
  • A GCSE (4+/A*-C) (or equivalent) in chemistry (or double science)
  • A degree in biochemistry and biotechnology

Academic and Vocational Notes

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.

Work Based Training Notes

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.

Other Routes

Whilst these are the usual routes to this career, there can be alternatives. You will be able to discuss these with your adviser.

To learn more about getting into a career in Biochemistry, take a look at our article - Career Focus of the Month: Becoming a Biochemist

Some data provided by NCS. May contain public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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