Biochemist Job Description, Skills, and Salary
Get to know about the duties, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills requirements of a biochemist. Feel free to use our job description template to produce your own. We also provide you with information about the salary you can earn as a biochemist.
Who is a Biochemist?
Biochemistry is an aspect of natural and applied science that deals with and explores the chemical processes within and related to living organisms including humans. This branch of science uses chemical techniques and knowledge to solve and decipher biological problems. Also, biochemistry is laboratory-based and is a combination of biology and chemistry. This field covers several scientific disciplines such as forensics, microbiology, plant science, genetics, and medicine.
There have been staggering innovations, advancements, and growth in biochemistry over time; in fact, the vast nature of biochemistry makes it an important and fascinating branch of science. The main focus of biochemistry is on processes happening at a molecular level. Professionals in this sector often understand the relationship between the structure and function of molecules which allows them to predict or project how molecules interact. Similarly, biochemistry studies components like lipids, proteins, and organelles and examines how cells communicate with each other.
Moreover, the life science community consists of interactive networks where scientists and experts exchange ideas and opportunities at all levels. There has been an increase in funding for biochemical research globally, especially after the governments recognized and acknowledged the potential that developments in biochemistry and life sciences have for contributing to natural prosperity and improving the quality of life. Additionally, a specialization in biochemistry opens up a range of careers in industry and research such as agriculture, health, and the environment.
Therefore, a biochemist is defined as a scientist that studies chemical processes and chemical transformations in living organisms. They study DNA, proteins, and cell parts and research how chemical reactions happen in cells and tissues. Relatively, a biochemist observes and records the effects of products on medicine and food additives. Most biochemical researchers focus on planning, orchestrating, and constructing research experiments on various samples to develop new products, update existing products, and analyze such products. Afterward, they present their findings and discoveries to relevant bodies and generate grant proposals and funds for further studies or research. A biochemist studies some aspects of the immune system and the expressions of genes; they synthesize different products, perform isolating analysis, monitor laboratory work, and study mutations that lead to cancers and other terminal illnesses. A biochemist has the ability and capability to design and build laboratory equipment and strategize or devise new methods of producing correct results for products; accuracy, efficacy, uniqueness, productivity, and positivity are watchwords associated with biochemists.
Usually, the biochemist uses biochemical processes to develop essential products that enhance the quality of living. They carry out different types of analyses to identify a substance’s chemical and physical attributes in biological systems. A biochemist collects, analyses, and summarizes the information and trends obtained to prepare or develop technical reports whilst breaking down complicated biological systems into their component [parts during research. Biochemists research molecular biology (the study of life at the molecular level and the study of genes and gene expression) and examine the effects of drugs, foods, other substances, and allergies on living tissues. Generally, a biochemist also studies the chemical reactions in growth, metabolism, heredity, and reproduction; they adopt techniques from biotechnology and genetic engineering during research.
Also, a biochemist uses an electron microscope, computer modeling software, lasers, and other equipment to determine the structures of molecules. This is mostly done in tandem with other experts including chemists, physicists, healthcare personnel, policymakers, and engineers. Importantly, a biochemist provides, develops, and brings new ideas and experiments to understand how life works and support our understanding of diseases and health. He/she contributes innovative information to the technology revolution in colleges, companies, research institutes, and private organizations.
Furthermore, a biochemist designs and executes experiments according to regulations, standards, and terms of the biochemical and scientific community to explore options for new and useful products. Besides medicine, biochemists play several roles in agriculture and other industries; they research ways to genetically engineer crops to become resistant to disease, drought, insects, and other afflictions. Significantly, the biochemist investigates biofuels and other renewable energy sources from plants and develops ways to safeguard the environment and negate pollution. In hospitals, biochemists collect and analyze samples from patients’ urine, blood, and other bodily fluids to diagnose, manage, and treat different ailments.
The daily activities or work of a biochemist vary depending on the field or employer. However, they work weekdays during office hours although extra or unfinished work may necessitate them to work extra or additional hours. Some biochemists might be required to travel to other facilities as well based on the nature of research; while others spend time nurturing and teaching the next generation of biochemists in schools and universities. Likewise, biochemists play important roles in public health; their findings involve discoveries that unlock the causes of diseases which enable policymakers to develop healthcare policies that reduce and eliminate various risks. Biochemist enhances sustainability practices as they study the impact of chemicals on nature and provide lasting solutions.
Generally, a biochemist might specialize in a particular aspect of biochemistry such as;
Clinical and medical biochemists: These are specialists that work in medical laboratories in hospitals or clinics. They study how diseases form and how the cells react to them.
Analytical biochemists: They analyze the make-up of biological samples using sophisticated equipment.
Nutritional biochemists: A nutritional biochemist studies how our bodies derive nutrients and energy from food. Also, they examine the medical consequences of different diets.
Plant biochemists: A plant biochemist examines the function of plants such as photosynthesis. These professionals look at how plants deal with several contaminants.
Comparative biochemists: They are responsible for comparing different living organisms; they study how organisms perform similar functions in different ways.
Biochemist Job Description
Below are the biochemist job description examples you can use to develop your resume or write a biochemist job description for your employee. Employers can also use it to sieve out job seekers when choosing candidates for interviews.
Largely, a biochemist strives to improve the quality of life of a living organism. Their specific responsibilities and tasks involve creating new ways of testing, studying different cells, and examining how proteins and cell components are configured. The biochemist examines the effects of external stimuli on biochemical processes and explores the physical principles and phenomena that influence plants and animals. Hence, a biochemist performs the following additional duties in different industries or sectors;
- Analyses the structure and chemical makeup of cells.
- Plans and conducts experiments and complex scientific projects to find out how living organisms function.
- Conducts studies for basic and applied research purposes.
- Monitors the quality of work of the laboratory or research team.
- Utilizes observation, microscopic examination, dissection, and other research techniques to conduct laboratory and fieldwork.
- Produces and develops new processes and materials within biochemistry and/or improves existing ones.
- Researches the effects of different substances on biological and biochemical processes.
- Reports research findings to the broader scientific and biochemistry community.
- Manages and coordinates the laboratory team comprising laboratory assistants, laboratory technicians, and graduate students.
- Writes and applies for grants to acquire research funding from corporations, foundations, and the government.
- Uses reasoning and sound judgment to draw meaningful conclusions from the results of an experiment.
- Isolate, synthesize, and analyze proteins, DNA, fats, and other molecular substances to better understand their role and effect on a living organism.
- Attends seminars, conferences, workshops, and reviews research of peers and colleagues to stay abreast on the latest trends and developments in the field.
- Studies the chemical processes, functions, and composition of living organisms.
- Writes scholarly articles and journals to boost research in the field.
- Designs develop and recommend equipment or facilities to use for research and experiments.
- Prepares and refines chemical compounds for medical or public use.
- Hires, trains, motivate and coaches staff members and colleagues.
- Identifies new areas of beneficial research in the bounds of an organization’s market.
- Reports any misuse of policies or company equipment to the relevant bodies.
- Develops and creates a working hypothesis of the function of all potential bio-products and designs experiments to test hypotheses.
- Performs experiments according to the guidelines and scientific standards.
- Repeats experiments when requested or necessary.
- Analyses specimens or samples such as blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.
- Audits the use and diagnostic performance of tests.
- Identifies, corrects, and resolves any poor analytical performance.
- Performs clinical validation, checks abnormal results, and decides if further tests are necessary.
- Nurtures, guides, and teaches upcoming biochemists in a classroom or research institute.
- Works closely with pharmacologists and toxicologists to develop pharmaceutical products for commercial use.
The daily duties of a biochemist require certain qualifications; whether you intend to work in a laboratory conducting experiments or in a field conducting research, you need to possess the qualifications applicable to this field. Employers constantly sieve candidates that lack basic industry-specific qualifications during the recruitment process. Additionally, you need training, education, and other proficiencies to succeed in the profession even if you intend to take an educational role at a university to teach future biochemists. Although the knowledge of biology and chemistry is important to improving the health and wellbeing of living organisms, the following qualifications are needed in the sector;
- Education and training: The minimum education requirement is a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry which is available in most universities and colleges. The modules cover areas such as biochemical reactions, cell development, microbiology, ecology, biology, and chemistry amongst others. To perform complex data analysis, the candidate or biochemist must develop proficiency in computer science and mathematics during their undergraduate coursework. Extracurricular training on the application and use of laboratory equipment is essential as is training on research and experimentation. For career growth and advancement, a postgraduate master’s degree or Ph. D is vital; employers and companies tend to prefer candidates with higher or advanced degrees.
- Experience: Like most scientific fields or endeavors, experience is vital for a role as a biochemist. Have you wondered why undergraduate students in biochemistry and other courses are required to undertake a mandatory industrial training program? The reason isn’t far-fetched; the program instills much-needed practical experience on such individuals. Also, most hiring managers prefer candidates with a minimum of 3 years of work experience in a laboratory, research institute, or classroom depending on the type of biochemist they seek. In relation, a proven history of scientific research experience is an advantage while verifiable experience from an internship can suffice.
A biochemist often has a natural ability and tendency to investigate and carry out research. While in school, most biochemists are groomed to become inquisitive and introspective. They are expected to be rational, logical, and analytical. In addition, a biochemist must be creative and intuitive to succeed in the field. Since a biochemist may work with dangerous toxins and substances, he or she needs some skills and qualities to adhere strictly to safety standards. To successfully navigate research on-site, work outdoors, discover new medications to treat diseases, and advance in managerial and educational roles, a biochemist should have the following skills;
- Inductive reasoning skills: This is an approach of logical thinking used to infer reasonable and equitable conclusions from facts. A biochemist needs inductive reasoning to analyze data and answer hypotheses. Since they spend lots of time researching, inductive reasoning skills will enable them to infer meaningful conclusions about the function and processes
- Critical thinking skills: This skill plays an important role in the daily work of a biochemist. It involves the ability of an individual to analyze facts to understand a topic. Having a deep understanding of many cellular functions enables a biochemist to conduct research and produce findings since an organism’s chemical makeup influence their understanding of the function of the organism.
- Analytical skills: This enables the biochemist to conduct scientific experiments with accuracy and precision.
- Mathematical skills: Biochemists use complex equations and formulas regularly in their work. Hence, they need a broad understanding of mathematics, calculus, and statistics.
- Attention to detail: A biochemist needs to be extremely observant and attentive when conducting research. There isn’t room for error in the field; they must use meticulous research methods as well as detailed data recording.
- Additional skills include perseverance, communication skills, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, and an excellent work ethic.
How to Become a Biochemist
Enumerated below are tips to consider when pursuing a career in biochemistry;
First, complete an organization in biochemistry. The minimum educational requirement is a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from an accredited citadel of learning. However, it is advisable to pursue a master’s degree if possible.
Secondly, finish an internship after graduation to acquire career and industry-based skills and training. An internship will expose you to training on how to use laboratory equipment, conduct research, and file reports.
Thirdly, gain relevant work experience in the field. This can be achieved through an apprenticeship or entry-level positions. Although completing a degree in biochemistry qualifies you to become a biochemist, employers prefer candidates with relative work experience in the profession or related field.
Next, consider further studies after accumulating relative work experience. You can be employed as an assistant and pursue a doctorate in biochemistry depending on the employer and the contractual agreement. A Ph.D. in biochemistry is essential especially if you plan to go into lecturing.
Finally, find a full-time job in the field after completing the necessary education, acquiring experience, and undergoing training.
Typical Employers of Biochemists
The main employers of biochemistry graduates in the public and private sector are;
- Forensic science services.
- Government departments (ministry of health, drug enforcement agencies, and so on).
- Environmental protection agencies.
- Research institutes.
- Government and private-owned educational or academic institutions
- Private laboratories
- Non-Governmental organizations
- Pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms
- Food, water, and agricultural companies
- Cosmetic firms
Biochemist Salary Scale
The salary levels for biochemists working for universities, private companies, government bodies, and other organizations may vary. Also, factors such as location, level of experience, and cadre play vital roles in the salary scale. Thus, a biochemist earns an average salary of $94,270 yearly according to PayScale. The highest-paid biochemists earn an estimated $127,980 per year while the lowest-paid biochemists earn an average of $67,710 every year.