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What Does a Biochemist Do?

Chemistry flasks, beakers and test tubes

If you're looking for a job that really helps people and changes lives for the better, a career in biochemistry may be perfect for you.

In this blog, we're going to dive into the life of a biochemist, taking a closer look at what they do, the qualifications needed to become one, and what career paths are available once you're qualified.

Biochemistry overview

As a biochemist, you will work in either basic research or applied research. Basic research is carried out with the goal of simply expanding human knowledge, whereas applied research focuses on solving a specific problem.

If you're a biochemist working within basic research, you may study the genetic mutations in organisms that lead to diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer's disease. You could also be involved in the study of plants and animals, with the goal of understanding how genetic traits are carried through successive generations.

Working within applied research opens up areas such as medicine, agriculture, the environment and renewable energy.

The typical responsibilities of a biochemist include:

  • Planning and conducting complex projects in both basic and applied research

  • Researching the effects of drugs, hormones and food on tissues and biological processes

  • Overseeing a team of lab technicians, monitoring the quality of their work

  • Isolating, analysing and synthesising molecules such as enzymes, proteins and DNA

  • Preparing research papers, technical reports and recommendations based on research that has been carried out

  • Presenting findings to scientists, engineers, colleagues and other key stakeholders


Where do biochemists work?

Biochemists often work in laboratories and offices where they are able to conduct experiments and analyse their results.

After building up a good amount of experience over several years, some biochemists may get the opportunity to move into managerial positions, often working as natural science managers. This normally results in a change of working environment, as much more time is spent on administrative tasks such as preparing schedules and budgets for the teams under your supervision.


How to become a biochemist

In order to become a biochemist and apply for entry-level positions in this field, you will have to successfully complete a bachelor's and master's degree in biology or chemistry. You will then have to complete a PhD in order to work in independent research and development.

Biochemists are often employed within the life sciences sector, working in research roles for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries. They may also be able to find work in other sectors, including food technology, vaccine production and toxicology.

For others who have gained the necessary qualifications but aren't interested in industry work, there's also the option to continue working in academia. Here, biochemists can teach undergraduates and postgraduates as well as continuing to research their specialisms and collaborating with their colleagues and peers.

Biochemists can also opt to work for government departments.

What Can I Do With a Biochemistry Degree?

And there you have it: everything you need to know about what a biochemist does and how to become one.

If a career in biochemistry sounds like something you'd like to pursue, the team here at HRS can help. Click the link below to browse the latest UK biochemistry vacancies.

Browse Biochemistry Jobs >

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