Biochemists perform basic research and applied research and product development in industry or university- operated laboratories, and in hospitals. Many also teach or work in universities, private industry, or government agencies, or as self-employed consultants to industry and the government. Career opportunities may also involve work as an oceanographer, soil conservationist, agricultural scientist, biological scientist, life science technician, in the fields of nutrition, dietetics, molecular biology, health science, microbiology and pharmacology. 

Educational Qualifications

A degree in Biochemistry is the entry level for technical positions in the industry. For more advanced research and management positions, Masters and Ph.D. degrees are eventually needed.

Chemists and materials scientists with advanced degrees, particularly those with a Ph.D. and work experience, are expected to experience better opportunities. Large pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms provide openings for these workers at research laboratories, and many others work in colleges and universities. Furthermore, chemists with advanced degrees will continue to fill most senior research and upper-management positions.

Students interested in secondary teaching must complete applicable licensure for the secondary teaching credential. For more information, contact the School of Education.

Job Outlook

Employment of biochemists is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. 

Entering Salary

 The median annual wage for chemists was $71,770 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,080, and the top 10 percent earned more than $120,600.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for chemists in the top five industries employing these scientists were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service$100,920
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences$79,140
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing$70,480
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals$57,190
Testing laboratories$55,060

 The median annual wage for high school teachers was $55,050 in May 2012 with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $36,930 and the top 10 percent earning more than $85,690. 

 The median annual wage for biochemists was $81,480 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $41,430, and the top 10 percent earned more than $147,350.

In May 2012, the median annual wages for chemists in the top five industries employing these scientists were as follows:

Federal government, excluding postal service$100,920
Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences$79,140
Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing$70,480
State and local government, excluding education and hospitals$57,190
Testing laboratories$55,060

 The median annual wage for high school teachers was $55,050 in May 2012 with the lowest 10 percent earning less than $36,930 and the top 10 percent earning more than $85,690. 

Career information adapted from:

  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2013). Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/ooh