Biochemists are the intersection of biological concepts and their chemical components, all coming together within living systems.
Sample of Reported Job Titles
Analytical Research Chemist, Chief Scientific Officer, Laboratory Director, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Scientist, Scientist
Biochemistry is applied to medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. In food science, biochemists research ways to develop abundant and inexpensive sources of nutritious foods, determine the chemical composition of foods, develop methods to extract nutrients from waste products, or invent ways to prolong the shelf life food products. In agriculture, biochemists study the interaction of herbicides with plants. They examine the structure-activity relationships of compounds, determine their ability to inhibit growth, and evaluate the toxicological effects on surrounding life.
Biochemistry spills over into pharmacology, physiology, microbiology, and clinical chemistry. In these areas, a biochemist may investigate the mechanism of a drug action; engage in viral research; conduct research pertaining to organ function; or use chemical concepts, procedures, and techniques to study the diagnosis and therapy of disease and the assessment of health.
Work in the field of biochemistry is often related to toxicology. Rogene Henderson, senior scientist and supervisor of the Biochemical Toxicology Group at Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, does research to understand ways in which organic compounds in the body are changed by enzymes into toxic metabolites. Henderson focuses on determining the health effects of inhaled pollutants. She develops chemical analytical techniques to detect pollutants and their metabolites in body tissues and fluids, uses mathematics to describe the relationships between the air and body concentrations of these chemicals or their metabolites, and determines how these concentrations change with time.
Places of Employment
Colleges and universities employ the majority of biochemists as teachers or researchers in schools of arts and sciences, medicine, engineering, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and agriculture. The Department of Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, and the Environmental Protection Agency are just a few of the government agencies that employ biochemists specializing in basic research analyzing food, drugs, air, water, waste, or animal tissue.
Industries that produce pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, foods, feeds, and consumer products also employ biochemists in research as well as in areas outside the lab such as marketing, management, science information, technical writing, and editing. Drug companies employ biochemists to research the causes of disease and to develop drugs to combat these diseases. Biotechnology companies employ biochemists in research quality control, clinical research, manufacturing, and information systems with applications to the environment, energy, human health care, agriculture, and animal health. Some biochemists work in hospitals.
Preparing for a career in this field requires earning a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry or chemistry with specialties in cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, biophysics, and biochemical methods. A bachelor’s degree in biology with more emphasis on chemistry, physics, and mathematics than may be required of a biology major, coupled with a biochemistry course and lab work, will also provide a foundation for entering the field.
Median Salary 2022
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of a Biochemist in 2022 was $102,270.
Want to know more?
Belonging to professional organizations & LinkedIn groups can provide you with networking, informational interviewing, & job shadowing opportunities, as well as assist you with finding internships and jobs.
- American Chemical Society
- Biochemistry Professional Social Network LinkedIn Group
- List of Professional Organizations
Find a Job
- Career Development
- What Can I do with a Major In...
- Career Mapping System
- Personalize Your Career Plan
- Build a Professional Profile
- Internships and Research
- Job Search Resources
- Programs & Events
- Additional Career Resources
- Archived Newsletters
- Applying to Graduate School
- Reporting Your Post-Grad Plans
- Post-Graduation Data
- Alumni Profiles