Career Opportunities in Biochemistry
Because of recent advances in biochemistry and biotechnology, many new professions have been created for biochemistry majors. Those who stop at the BS degree often find themselves working as technicians in a variety of industries, but for those who go on for their MS or PhD, many more opportunities become possible.
Graduates at all levels find positions in a wide variety of career areas, including forensics, industrial chemistry, molecular biology, pharmacology, technical sales, virology, horticulture, immunology, forestry, and so on. But there are more careers one might not normally associate with the field of biochemistry.
A research assistant works in the area of biochemical research and development as part of a team. They may investigate new genetic tests, be involved in genetic engineering or cloning, or help with the development of new drugs or drug protocols. In addition to performing typical technical biochemical procedures, the research assistant analyzes data and prepares technical reports and summaries. Research assistants are often also involved in the search for inventions that can lead to patents. They may eventually head up their own research groups.
Clinical research associate
Clinical research associates design and implement clinical research projects such as a new drug protocol or the use of a new virus for gene therapy. They may travel to the various field sites where the clinical trials are being conducted to coordinate and/or supervise the trials. The clinical associate analyzes and evaluates data from the trials to ensure that clinical protocols were followed. A background in nursing or pharmacology is useful.
Anyone who has ever read a poorly written technical manual realizes the importance of a good technical writer. A technical writer in the biochemical world edits and writes operating procedures, laboratory manuals, clinical protocols, and so on. They ensure that these documents are written in a way that meets government regulations. They may develop professional development programs for staff members and write news releases. Part of their job is to take highly technical reports and edit them in such a way that they are understandable to the company's administration and to the general public.
Biochemical development engineer
Biochemical development engineers take the biochemical process developed in the laboratory and scale it up through the pilot plant stage to the full production plant. They help determine what instrumentation and equipment are needed and troubleshoot problems in the scale-up procedure. They work to develop more efficient manufacturing processes while maintaining a high degree of quality control. They may also be involved in technological advances from another area and apply them to their manufacturing process.
Biostatisticians are statisticians who work in health-related fields. They design research studies and collect and analyze data on problems — such as how a disease progresses, how safe a new treatment or medication is, or the impact of certain risk factors associated with medical conditions. They may also design and analyze studies to determine health care costs and health care quality. They are instrumental in the designing stages of studies, providing expertise on experimental design, sample sizes, and other considerations.