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Career Profile: Biochemists and Biophysicists

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.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 34,800 people employed as biochemists and biophysicists in the United States. The median annual salary is $94,300. Entry level employees earn approximately $52,640 per year and senior employees earn approximately $169,860 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
  • Manage laboratory teams or monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Research how characteristics of plants or animals are carried through successive generations.
  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • Develop methods to process, store, or use foods, drugs, or chemical compounds.
  • Investigate the nature, composition, or expression of genes or research how genetic engineering can impact these processes.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Design or build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • Prepare reports or recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Study spatial configurations of submicroscopic molecules, such as proteins, using x-rays or electron microscopes.
  • Study the chemistry of living processes, such as cell development, breathing and digestion, or living energy changes, such as growth, aging, or death.
  • Study the mutations in organisms that lead to cancer or other diseases.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.
  • Research transformations of substances in cells, using atomic isotopes.
  • Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.
  • Develop or test new drugs or medications intended for commercial distribution.
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
  • Write grant proposals to obtain funding for research.
  • Design or perform experiments with equipment, such as lasers, accelerators, or mass spectrometers.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles or by making presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Teach or advise undergraduate or graduate students or supervise their research.
  • Isolate, analyze, or synthesize vitamins, hormones, allergens, minerals, or enzymes and determine their effects on body functions.
  • Examine the molecular or chemical aspects of immune system functioning.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
34,800
Annual Openings:
3,200
Increase in Openings by 2030:
5%
Annual Salary Range:
$52,640 - $169,860
Education Requirements:
Master's degree or higher