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Biochemist And Biophysicist Career

Career Description

Biochemists and Biophysicists study the chemical composition and physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.

Common Work Tasks

  • Study the chemical composition of living things
  • Analyze the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, and growth
  • Prepare reports and recommendations based upon research outcomes
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes
  • Manage laboratory teams, and monitor the quality of a team’s work
  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles and by making presentations at scientific conferences
  • Develop and execute tests to detect diseases,  genetic disorders, or other abnormalities
  • Research the chemical effects of substances such as drugs, serums, hormones, and food on tissues and vital processes

Other Job Titles

Biochemists and Biophysicists are also known by other titles,  including:

  • Physicists
  • Biologists
  • Biological Scientists
  • Chemists

Education,  Training, and Experience

Education and Training
 
A Ph.D.  degree usually is necessary for independent research, industrial research, and college teaching, as well as for advancement to administrative positions. A master’s degree is sufficient for some jobs in applied research, product development, management, or inspection; it also may qualify one to work as a research technician or a teacher. The bachelor’s degree is adequate for some non-research jobs.

Experience
     
Biochemists and biophysicists should be able to work independently or as part of a team and be able to communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing. Those in private industry, especially those who aspire to management or administrative positions, should possess strong business and communication skills and be familiar with regulatory issues and marketing and management techniques. Those doing field research in remote areas must have physical stamina. Biochemists and biophysicists also must have patience and self-discipline to conduct long and detailed research projects.

Salary

The median annual salary for Biochemists and Biophysicists is $79,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $135,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $42,000.  Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of biochemists and biophysicists are:

  • Scientific Research and Development Services - $89,810
  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing - $92,460
  • Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools - $48,520
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals  - $85,180
  • Drugs and Druggists’ Sundries Merchant Wholesalers  - $86,900

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  16%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 3,200
  • Employment 2006 : 20,000
  • Employment 2016:  23,000
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