A scientist trained in studying the biological chemistry of living organisms, be at a cellular or molecular level, are known as biochemists. The work done in the field of biochemistry can embrace education for growth, metabolism, reproduction, and death or living beings.
Typical duties of a person being either expert or becoming an expert in the field of biochemistry include a study of proteins (structure, function, configuration, active and inactive states), cellular membranes and organelles.
Moreover, they also can design and orchestrate various tests and techniques to study the principles of biochemistry and their applications.
There are a few prerequisites to become a basic biochemist with the addition of more steps helping more in the advancement of a career in this field.
Generally, the following steps are necessary:
- Bachelor’s degree – to equip oneself with a wide range of concepts from biology, chemistry, physics, basic math, and cell biology; and sometimes having a research project in the final year
- An internship – to gain experience in the research field or in an industry so as to fine-tune future goals. These can be funded international summer internships which are solely research-oriented or local internships with research groups at a university lab
- Doctoral degree – required when someone wants to be an independent researcher or advisor in the field.
- Postdoctoral fellowship – to pursue further research, teaching and academic experience with the ultimate goal of getting better skills in the field for establishing a career
- Research fellowships – these are undertaken to further polish one’s skills during their early stages of the research careers. Basic aims include developing vision and strategies from the initiation through the completion of the project. It most often also entails the creation of teams and collaborations for its successful completion
- Principal investigator – refers to a designated position in an institute where one can do an objectives’ based research for the execution of independent, reproducible and high-quality research.
So far we have given you the basic steps required in becoming a biochemist as well as some advanced career employments or occupational opportunities.
Now let’s look at the pays one can get at each of these stages. These are summarized in the following table.
|Career Level||Month’s Salary in $||Yearly salary in $|
|Bachelor’s education*||$250 – $1000||$3000 – $12,000|
|Internships**||$3,000 + travel expense||N/A|
|Doctoral degree||$1,500 – $3,000||$18,000 – $36,000|
|Postdoc fellowship||$4,000 – $6,000||$48,000$ – $72,000|
|Research ellowship||$11,000 – $18,000||$132,000$ – $216,000|
|Principal investigator||$5000 – $20,000||$60,000$ – $240,000|
*applicable only when a student wins a scholarship for his / her studies.
**applicable for one-month period in most of the cases.
In conclusion, getting a Ph.D. degree in biochemistry can take one to a job with an estimated average salary of approximately 60,000$ per annum. Moreover, having advanced experience such as having a postdoc opens ventures of working in other fields too e.g., medicine, teaching, and pharmaceutics.