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Biochemist Biological scientist

Biochemists investigate the chemical processes that take place inside all living things, from viruses and bacteria to people.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £25,000 to £42,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

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
  • cell and molecular biology
  • chemical and molecular biology
  • microbiology genetics
  • molecular biology
In the NHS, you can train by following the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • a high level of accuracy and attention to detail
  • excellent communication skills

3. What you'll do

Your role and tasks will vary by industry.

In the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, your work will include:

  • developing new products
  • monitoring production
  • quality control
  • 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
  • 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
  • monitoring the effects of pollution on the environment

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

4. Salary

Starter: £25,000

Experienced: £26,250 to £35,250

Highly Experienced: up to £42,000

Your salary will vary depending on the area you specialise in, 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 department, or move into research, sales and marketing, or scientific journalism.


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Last updated: 11 April 2017