Duties & Responsibilities of Biochemists

Biochemists research and study chemicals and living organisms.
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Biochemists research and study chemicals and living organisms.

If you enjoy research on chemical composition, biochemistry could be an ideal career choice. Biochemists research and study the chemical composition of living organisms, especially their effects on growth and aging. Biochemists explore different reactions chemicals have and the effects of these reactions on organisms. For example, a biochemist works to discover how the actions of certain foods or drugs may influence the body and tissues. Biochemistry is a rapidly growing field.

Basic Job Duties

Biochemists spend a large part of the day conducting research. This research includes arranging chemicals or molecules in patterns, and examining the chemical reactions that take place in a laboratory. A biochemist also investigates how certain reactions influence the body or other organisms. Biochemists study drugs, foods, hormones and biologic processes in a laboratory setting. Biochemists isolate proteins or enzymes, work with DNA and other complex molecules, or plan and apply research to hypotheses.

Research and Reporting

Biochemist spend a good portion of time preparing reports tied to their research. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that biochemists research food, drugs, hormones and biological processes, and prepare technical reports, research and findings based on this research. They sometimes manage laboratories or monitor the work of others. Most biochemists work as part of teams, such as group research projects.

Types of Research

Biochemists study genetic anomalies or mutations, including those that cause cancer and hereditary diseases. Many biochemists submit grant proposals. You may work with an organization that studies a specific type of disease or work with a drug company that develops pharmaceuticals that fight certain types of diseases. Some biochemists work with particular types of medications for example, including those that fight memory impairments. Still others teach students or other professors about research and new medications or technology.

Salary and Education

A biochemist needs a Ph.D. to conduct independent research. A bachelor's degree or master's degree enables you to obtain an entry level position in most laboratories conducting research. Most entry-level biochemists move on to advance their career or pursue management or teaching positions at a later time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual salary of biochemists as of May 2010 was $79,390 with the top 10 percent earning more than $142,420. Most work in the pharmaceutical industry and research and development or engineering and life sciences industries.

2016 Salary Information for Biochemists and Biophysicists

Biochemists and biophysicists earned a median annual salary of $82,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, biochemists and biophysicists earned a 25th percentile salary of $58,630, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $117,340, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 31,500 people were employed in the U.S. as biochemists and biophysicists.

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