Biochemists investigate the chemical processes that take place inside all living things.

What does a biochemist do?

Biochemist roles and duties vary depending on the industry. For example, in the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, work could include:

  • developing new products
  • monitoring production
  • quality control
  • checking the safety of existing products

In a hospital, public-health laboratory or research institute, duties might involve:

  • carrying out tests on blood and other bodily fluids
  • researching the causes of disease
  • exploring new methods of treatment

In agriculture and the environment, biochemists might work with water authorities, seed companies or local and central government. Duties could include:

  • genetically engineering plants to create pest-resistant crops
  • improving the quantity of crops
  • developing and extending the shelf life of produce
  • monitoring the effects of pollution on the environment

What do I need to do to become a biochemist?

You will need a high level of skill and ability in science and be good at solving problems. Working accurately and having an eye for detail will help you when examining samples under a microscope.

To work as a biochemist, most employers will expect you to have a relevant degree. For some jobs, such as those in industry or research, you may also be expected to have experience in your area of interest and already hold, or be working towards, a postgraduate qualification, such as an MSc or PhD.

Related skills

  • Attention to detail
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • IT
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

Academic route

  • Five GCSEs (A*-C), including maths, English and science
  • Three A levels, including biology and chemistry

Desirable qualifications

  • Degree and postgraduate qualifications in a relevant subject

Where to find out more

Where could I be working?

You will find job opportunities in healthcare, education and research. You could also work in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, in agriculture, food and drink production, and biotechnology.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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