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Biochemists and Biophysicists Career

Career Description

Study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.

What Job Titles Biochemists and Biophysicists Might Have

  • Research Assistant
  • Research Associate
  • Research Scientist
  • Scientist

What Biochemists and Biophysicists Do

  • Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles or by making presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Prepare reports or recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Teach or advise undergraduate or graduate students or supervise their research.
  • Manage laboratory teams or monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Isolate, analyze, or synthesize vitamins, hormones, allergens, minerals, or enzymes and determine their effects on body functions.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
  • Study the mutations in organisms that lead to cancer or other diseases.
  • Study the chemistry of living processes, such as cell development, breathing and digestion, or living energy changes, such as growth, aging, or death.
  • Investigate the nature, composition, or expression of genes or research how genetic engineering can impact these processes.
  • Design or perform experiments with equipment such as lasers, accelerators, or mass spectrometers.
  • Study spatial configurations of submicroscopic molecules, such as proteins, using x-rays or electron microscopes.
  • Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.

What Biochemists and Biophysicists Should Be Good At

  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

What Biochemists and Biophysicists Should Be Interested In

  • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Artistic - Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

What Biochemists and Biophysicists Need to Learn

  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Diploma iconThis career requires a graduate degree.
Median Salary: $82,180

This page includes information from O*NET OnLine by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (USDOL/ETA). Used under the CC BY 4.0 license.