Career Options for Biochemistry Majors

Biochemistry majors may find jobs with pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and health organizations. Students majoring in biochemistry may take classes in mathematics, chemistry and molecular biology to prepare for a variety of careers, including research assistant, quality control technician and business process analyst. Read on to learn about potential career options.

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Biochemistry Careers

Students who graduate with a degree in biochemistry may have a choice of science-related careers. Biochemists may find work not only in research facilities and laboratories but also in private industry, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms and government agencies. A bachelor's degree in biochemistry may also be used to meet the entry requirements for medical, dental, veterinary, optometry or other professional schools.

An undergraduate biochemistry degree is also a good foundation for graduate study in any of the biological sciences. A master's or doctoral degree in the field may lead to advanced research opportunities or teaching at the college or university level.

Quality Control Technician

A graduate with a biochemistry degree may find work as a quality control technician, working in labs, manufacturing plants or other facilities. These technicians review products ranging from pharmaceutical drugs to food in order to ensure that manufactured goods are safe and compliant with industry and health codes. Quality control technicians may inspect items for discoloration or test products in varying environments looking for any chemical changes that may occur. Their work may include using microscopes and other equipment to observe and monitor physical and chemical properties of products.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chemical technicians are expected to see a nine percent increase in jobs from 2012 to 2022. These technicians earned a median annual income of $42,920, as of May 2012 (www.bls.gov).

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical sales representatives combine their knowledge of medical drugs and treatments with their interpersonal skills to generate sales for pharmaceutical companies. Sales representatives typically are in charge of coordinating meetings with doctors and medical staff. These professionals travel to hospitals, health care facilities and pharmacies to present a product or treatment. Sales representatives generally have acquired product knowledge through employer or manufacturer-sponsored training courses.

The BLS reports that sales representatives of technical and scientific products, such as those within the pharmaceutical industry, earned a median annual wage of $74,970, as of May 2012. A 9% increase in employment for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives is projected for the 2012-2022 decade.

Clinical Laboratory Technologist

Clinical laboratory technologists use their backgrounds in biochemistry to conduct experiments on bacteria, viruses and microorganisms. Technologists may perform tests on levels of compounds in human blood, monitor growth of bacteria or examine the effects of drugs on viruses. Depending on the laboratory environment they are in, these professionals may be involved in a broad range of studies or specialize in a specific field, such as bacteriology or virology. Clinical laboratory technologists may find employment in government health agencies, drug manufacturing companies or health care facilities.

Medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a median salary of $57,580, states the BLS as of May 2012. Jobs in this industry are expected to increase by 14% from 2012 to 2022.

Business Analyst

Biochemistry majors may become business analysts, working for biotechnology firms or within the food and health care industries. Analysts with a background in biochemistry may use their knowledge and experience with sophisticated laboratory equipment to research and recommend new equipment for labs. They may also review business costs, such as electricity or heating expenses, in order to minimize expenses and increase profitability. In other positions, biochemistry majors may help market products and streamline vendor or client relations.

The BLS reports that operations research analysts brought in a median of $72,100 per year, as of May 2012. These types of professionals in general are expected to see a 27% rise in jobs during the 2012-2022 decade.

Research Assistant

Another option for biochemistry majors is a career as a research assistant, working in government or private laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals or facilities connected to the growing field of biotechnology. Though jobs involving a high level of research will require an advanced degree, there are still many jobs at the assistant or technician level open to those with undergraduate degrees.

BLS reports in May 2012 indicate that social science research assistants earned a median income of $37,140 annually and are projected to experience 15% employment growth during the 2012-2022 decade.

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