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Career Development
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Biochemistry Major Careers

Biochemistry Career Information

Area

Employer

Information/Strategies

Research

  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research
  • Grant Writing
  • Administration
  • Some areas of specialization:
    • Healthcare: virology, immunology, enzymology
    • Pharmacology: drug properties, interactions, application and development
    • Environmental: testing, air, water, and waste management, regulation
    • Agricultural: crop production, herbicide/pesticide development and application
    • Food science: preservation, nutrition
    • Cosmeceutical: development and application
    • Forensic: toxicology, DNA analysis, scientific instrumentation
  • University laboratories
  • Federal government laboratories/agencies:
    • National Science Foundation
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Department of Energy
    • Armed Services
  • State and local government laboratories/agencies
  • Public health departments
  • Hospital laboratories
  • Commercial medical laboratories
  • Private testing laboratories including forensics
  • Independent research foundations
  • Industries:
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Biotechnology
    • Food processing
    • Cosmetic
    • Chemical
    • Petroleum
    • Agricultural
  • Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, biology, or chemistry qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions.
  • Choose courses with laboratory components to build experimental and instrumentation skills.
  • Gain experience in area of interest through internships, research with professors and/or complete a senior research project.
  • Complete a certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized laboratory techniques.
  • Take a course in grant writing.
  • Earn master’s degree in biochemistry for advanced positions, greater responsibility, and higher pay.
  • Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams.

Teaching

  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Post-secondary
  • Non-classroom settings
  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Two-year community colleges/technical institutes
  • Four-year institutions
  • Professional schools including colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Nature centers and parks
  • Develop excellent communication skills.
  • Volunteer with and/or tutor target age group.
  • Complete an accredited education program for certification/licensure in biology and/or chemistry.
  • Earn a master’s degree for teaching at some two-year institutions.
  • Prepare to attend graduate school by maintaining a high grade point average and securing strong faculty recommendations.
  • Complete Ph.D. for college or university teaching.

Healthcare

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Chiropracty
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Public Health
  • Hospitals
  • Colleges or universities
  • Medical centers and clinics
  • Private and group practice
  • Health networks
  • Nursing homes
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Correctional facilities
  • Large corporations
  • Armed services
  • Government agencies
  • State and local public health departments
  • Plan on attending medical school or other related graduate program.
  • Maintain an outstanding grade point average, particularly in the sciences.
  • Meet with a pre-health advisor periodically.
  • Join related student organizations. Demonstrate leadership abilities.
  • Volunteer to work in a hospital or healthcare setting.
  • Find a summer job or internship in a hospital.
  • Secure strong faculty recommendations.
  • Research all of the various fields within medicine to determine a particular career goal.
  • Develop a back up plan in case medical/graduate school admission is denied.

Other Professional Opportunities

  • Sales/Marketing
  • Technical Writing
  • Scientific Journalism
  • Scientific Illustration
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Administration/Management
  • Scientific/Technical Recruiting
  • Intellectual Property/Patent Law
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biotechnology industry
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical companies
  • Publishers: Textbook, magazine, newspaper, book
  • Software firms
  • Regulatory agencies
  • Search firms
  • Law firms
  • Legal departments of corporations
  • Supplement biochemistry degree with coursework in chosen field.
  • Gain sales experience through internships, part-time work, or summer jobs for sales positions.
  • Take business and/or computer classes.
  • Become familiar with desktop publishing and other software packages.
  • Develop strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Get experience writing for a school or local newspaper.
  • Obtain an MBA or Ph.D. to reach high levels of administration.
  • To pursue a J.D., participate in mock trial and pre-law associations, learn law school admissions process.

General Information and Strategies

  • Biochemists are typically curious and creative with strong observational skills and the ability to persevere.
  • Biochemists often interact with scientists from other disciplines. Learn to work independently and as part of a team.
  • Develop the ability to communicate clearly to compile and share results in oral and written forms.
  • Gain competencies in computers and mathematics.
  • Read scientific journals to stay current on relevant issues in the field, and join related professional organizations to network and build contacts.
  • As an undergraduate, seek laboratory experiences such as research projects, volunteering with professors, summer jobs, or internships.
  • Visit government laboratories or research centers to learn more about opportunities in biochemistry. Schedule informational interviews to learn about the profession and specific career paths.
  • Participate in research programs sponsored by organizations like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
  • Consider a certificate program or specialized master’s program to qualify for research technician positions.
  • Become familiar with the specific entrance exam for graduate or professional schools in your area of interest.
  • Maintain a high grade point average, and secure strong faculty recommendations.
  • Earn master’s degree for greater variety and autonomy on the job.
  • Earn Ph.D. to work on high-level research projects, to direct research programs, to enter high levels of administration, and to teach at four-year post-secondary institutions. Postdoctoral fellowships may also be required.
  • Combine an undergraduate degree in biochemistry with a degree in law, computer programming, business, education, information science, or other discipline to expand career opportunities.
  • Learn the job application process for government positions.

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