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Biochemist Biological scientist

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Biochemists investigate the chemical processes inside the cells of all living things to understand how they work.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £26,500 to £60,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need a science degree. You may also need a postgraduate qualification like a master's degree or PhD for jobs in industry or research.

Relevant subjects include:

  • biochemistry
  • biotechnology
  • chemical and molecular biology
  • biochemistry with genetics
  • molecular biology

In the NHS, you can train by following the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).

A Future in Chemistry has more information about careers in chemistry.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • the ability to analyse data
  • a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • excellent communication skills
  • problem solving skills
  • good computer skills

3. What you'll do

Your job and tasks will vary by industry.

In pharmaceuticals and food production, you'll:

  • develop new products
  • check quality controls
  • investigate the safety of products

In a hospital, public health laboratory or research institute, you'll:

  • analyse blood, tissue and DNA samples
  • research the causes of diseases and how they spread
  • explore new ways to treat conditions

In agriculture and the environment, you'll:

  • develop pest-resistant plants and crops
  • monitor the effects of pollution on the environment
  • look at ways to improve water quality

As a biochemist in education, you could work in universities and colleges, or medical, veterinary or dental schools.

4. Salary

Starter: £26,500

Experienced: £30,000 to £45,000

Highly Experienced: £50,000 to £60,000

Your salary will vary depending on your industry specialism and whether you work in the public or private sector.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may work shifts, and during busy periods may work longer hours.

You'll usually work in a laboratory. In the manufacturing industry, you'll also spend time in production areas. You'll wear protective clothing like a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a team leader or manager, running a research department, or move into education, technical sales, patent law, scientific publishing or consultancy.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018