Biochemistry Degree Career Options

A biochemist studies the chemistry of living organisms. Biochemists usually work at the "bench" in a government or university laboratory or for an industry, though there are a wide variety of careers for people with an undergraduate or graduate biochemistry degree.

Drug Development

Drug development offers careers for biochemists who are developing new drug compounds, employ existing drug compounds for new uses, developing vaccines and diagnosing diseases. There are positions in drug development for biochemists with undergraduate degrees, though it is strongly recommended that you pursue at least six months experience working in a laboratory environment before applying for positions in this field. If they decide not to pursue an academic career, many biochemists will find post-doctoral opportunities in drug development, or in nutrition science.

Food and Nutrition

Nutritional biochemists improve the health of both humans and animals. A nutritional biochemist that specializes in animals usually works in the agriculture industry developing new feed and conducting animal science research. A nutritional biochemist for humans tries to improve public health, either by reducing malnourishment or analyzing the nutritional components of certain diseases such as diabetes or obesity. They also work on developing new crops or making crops that improve human health. There are also positions for nutritional biochemists in the Nutraceutical industry examining or developing foods that can provide medicinal benefits.

Education

There are opportunities as educators, as high school teachers, professors and curriculum developers. To become a high school teacher, the graduate will pursue teaching certification, suitable for their state, either with on-the-job experience or by pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in education. To become a professor at the community college or college-level, you will need to possess a doctorate degree in biochemistry. Curriculum developers work with publishing companies, online education providers and state boards of education to develop educational standards for high school or post-secondary students. The minimum education requirement for curriculum development is an undergraduate degree, though most employers will prefer to hire curriculum developers with some teaching or technical writing experience. All educators will need to learn about teaching standards, learning theory, classroom management and student motivation, in addition to their backgrounds in biochemistry.

Science writer is also a career for biochemistry majors. Science writers work for publishing companies, writing textbooks, manuals and non-fiction works about science, usually on a freelance basis. They also work for newspapers, magazines and trade publications. Some science fiction writers also have degrees in biochemistry; for example, the author Isaac Asimovhad a degree in biochemistry.

Military Careers

The military medical service corps also hires biochemists, with a minimum of a masters degree, to provide clinical services to soldiers and their families. In the military, a biochemist will work in research and development, blood banks, health services or in toxicological research.

Toxicology

Toxicologists examine the effect of chemicals on humans, animals and the environment. Toxicologists work in laboratories, for the government, private or non-profit firms, and their research is used in policy development, research, law enforcement and forensic investigation. Candidates that seek certification from the American Board of Toxicologist possess a doctorate, but there are careers in toxicology for people with an undergraduate degree.