How to become a Biochemist

Biochemist

Biochemists study the chemistry of living systems to increase scientific knowledge and develop ways to apply this knowledge in areas such as medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science and manufacturing. Biochemistry provides a basis for all the life sciences.

Personal requirements for a Biochemist

  • Enjoy chemistry, biology and mathematics
  • Able to think logically and analytically
  • Able to work independently or as part of a team
  • Creative and imaginative

Education & Training for a Biochemist

To become a biochemist you usually have to complete a science or applied science degree at university with a major in biochemistry, environmental chemistry, molecular biology or a related field. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, biology, chemistry, earth and environmental science, mathematics and physics are normally required. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.


Duties & Tasks of a Biochemist

Biochemists:

  • Study the chemical processes that occur within individual cells
  • Study processes that involve whole organisms, such as digestion and growth
  • Undertake detailed chemical analysis using sophisticated instruments and techniques
  • Prepare, or supervise the preparation of, scientific reports and papers for journals based on observations and experiments.

Tasks

  • Examines micro-organisms, such as bacteria, fungi, yeast and their enzymes, and uses the knowledge gained to create and develop new, and improve existing, products, materials and processes..
  • Investigates the chemical structure and function of living cells and their isolated components, organs and tissues in humans, animals, plants, and micro-organisms..
  • Studies the forms and structures of bodily organs and tissues by systematic observation, dissection and microscopic examination..

Employment Opportunities for a Biochemist

Biochemists work in scientific research institutes, universities, and federal, state and territory government organisations such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Biochemists also work in medical research centres and hospital laboratories, and for food processing or drug manufacturing companies. Due to the high degree of specialisation required in this field, completion of a postgraduate degree is generally required for advancement to senior scientific positions. Employment is affected by factors such as the amount of funding provided for research in both the public and private sectors, and the general level of economic activity. Competition for jobs is strong.


Specializations

Clinical Biochemist

A clinical biochemist works in hospital laboratories where they study the chemical composition of various tissues and bodily fluids to assist in the study, diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Industrial Biochemist

An industrial biochemist works in laboratories in analytical and research work, such as checking the purity of food and beverages, or the enzymic production of fuels from waste products through fermentation procedures.

Research Biochemist

A research biochemist works in laboratories in universities, biotechnology companies, and agricultural, medical and veterinary institutes. They study areas such as the metabolism, growth and reproduction of fungi, bacteria, plants and animals, as well as the organisation of viruses. They frequently use the latest genetic engineering and molecular-biological techniques.

Biochemist

Biochemists study the chemistry of living systems to increase scientific knowledge and develop ways to apply this knowledge in areas such as medicine, veterinary science, agriculture, environmental science and manufacturing. Biochemistry provides a basis for all the life sciences.

  • Average age
    Average age
    37 years
  • Future Growth
    Future Growth
    Moderate
  • Gender Share
    Gender Share
    40% female
  • Average full-time
    Average full-time
    43 hours
  • Weekly Pay
    Weekly Pay
    $1,794
  • Skill level rating
    Skill level rating
    Very high skill
  • Unemployment
    Unemployment
    Average unemployment
  • Full-Time Share
    Full-Time Share
    82% Full-Time
  • Employment Size
    Employment Size
    140 workers
  • Employment Size
    Employment by state
    ACT: 3.9%
    NSW: 18.6%
    NT: 0.0%
    QLD: 17.1%
    SA: 10.9%
    TAS: 0.0%
    VIC: 41.1%
    WA: 8.5%
  • Employment Size
    Age brackets
    15-19: 0%
    20-24: 5.5%
    25-34: 39.3%
    35-44: 20%
    45-54: 15.2%
    55-59: 6.9%
    60-64: 6.2%
    65 and Over: 6.9%
  • Employment Size
    Education level
    Advanced Diploma/Diploma: 2.3%
    Bachelor degree: 38%
    Certificate III/IV: 0%
    Post Graduate/Graduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 59.7%
    Year 10 and below: 0%
    Year 11: 0%
    Year 12: 0%
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