How to become a 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 of 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.

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.

Avg. weekly wage:

$1,645

Future growth:

Moderate

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 6.7%

NSW NSW 19.5%

NT NT 2.1%

QLD QLD 20.2%

SA SA 6.9%

TAS TAS 2.6%

VIC VIC 21.7%

WA WA 20.3%

Hours worked:

33.1

Unemployment:

Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 50.6%

Female 49.4%

Education level:

Highest qualification is a Bachelor degree: 49.5%

Highest qualification is a Postgraduate Diploma or Graduate Certificate: 50.5%

Age brackets:

15-19 - 0%

20-24 - 3.6%

25-34 - 37%

35-44 - 19.4%

45-54 - 20.8%

55-59 - 9.3%

60-64 - 5.3%

65 and Over - 4.6%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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