- Biochemist require a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
- With experience, you could become a team leader or manager, or move into research or scientific journalism
- You'll likely wear protective clothing like a laboratory coat and safety glasses
As a biochemist in education, you could work in universities, colleges and schools, or medical, veterinary or dental schools. Clinical biochemists are responsible for testing patient samples and interpreting the results for medical staff. They often work as part of a hospital laboratory team that is responsible for investigating and diagnosing patient illnesses.
Your role and tasks as a biochemist will vary by industry. In the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, your work will include developing new products, monitoring production, quality control, and checking the safety of existing products. In a hospital, public health laboratory or research institute, your work will include carrying out tests on blood, researching the causes of disease, and exploring new methods of treatment. In agriculture and the environment, your work will include, genetically engineering plants to create pest-resistant crops, improving the quantity of crops, developing and extending the shelf life of produce, and monitoring the effects of pollution on the environment.
You'll usually work in a laboratory. In the manufacturing industry, you'll also spend time in production areas. You may need to wear protective clothing like a laboratory coat and safety glasses.
Your salary will vary depending on the area you specialise in, and whether you work in the public or private sector. You may work shifts, and during busy periods may work longer hours.
You'll usually need a science degree. For jobs in industry or research, you may also need a postgraduate qualification (MSc or PhD). Relevant first or higher degree subjects include: biochemistry, biotechnology, biopharmaceuticals, chemical and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and molecular biology.
During your degree course, you may be able to get experience of working in a laboratory through a Summer Vacation Studentship and could consider a sandwich placement in a laboratory or medical environment.
Some universities also offer a science foundation year as part of a degree if you have not studied science subjects to the level needed.
You'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science, 3 A levels with good grades, including chemistry and biology to enter a degree course.
Integrated master's qualifications like MBiolSci, MBiochem or MSci can be studied at university. These courses combine more independent research and are designed to lead directly onto further postgraduate study like a PhD.
You could also work as a laboratory technician and study on the job for a degree to qualify.
Another entry route is within the NHS, you can train by following the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)
Membership of a professional body, like the Biochemical Society or the Royal Society of Biology may be useful to reinforce your status as a professional scientist and to help keep your knowledge current.
With experience, you could become a team leader or manager, running a department, or move into research, sales and marketing, or scientific journalism.