Medical Biochemistry Careers: Job Options and Requirements
Medical biochemistry is a field that focuses on chemical interactions of biological molecules for the purposes of advancing medicine. Careers in medical biochemistry typically require advanced education, and there are a variety of available job options.
Medical Biochemistry Technician
Technician positions are available in both research and clinical laboratories. Technicians in clinical labs can perform routine tests and sample analysis, then communicate the results to doctors. In research laboratories, they perform simple experiments and sample preparation. Lab technicians can also operate and maintain lab equipment and may manage lab inventory.
Medical biochemistry technician positions generally require a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Some employers accept an associate's degree or certificate when accompanied by a number of years of relevant work experience, but advancement past a certain level of responsibility in this field is generally not possible without a 4-year degree.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for biological technicians and medical and clinical laboratory technicians will increase about as fast as average for all occupations during the 2012-2022 decade. In May 2012, the BLS reported that biological technicians had a median annual salary of $39,750, and that medical and clinical laboratory technicians had a median salary of $37,240.
Medical Research Scientist
Jobs in clinical research can be found at hospitals and other medical institutions, public and private research institutions, commercial companies and medical schools. Careers in laboratory research are also available, and may be available through biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical facilities such as hospitals and private medical centers. Lab researchers at medical institutions can work directly with medical doctors who are running clinical research studies to develop new treatments.
Research scientist positions typically require either a master's degree or Ph.D. in a subject like biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology or analytical chemistry. Independent research positions could require a Ph.D., several years' worth of experience in a postdoctoral position and a portfolio of published research. A job involving clinical work where scientists interact with patients in a medical capacity requires professionals to hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and a state license to practice medicine. Positions bridging the gap between research and clinical medicine may require both an M.D. and a Ph.D.
Salary and Job Outlook
The BLS projects the fields of medical scientists and biochemists and biophysicists will grow at faster-than-average rates over the 2012-2022 decade. In May 2012, the BLS reported that medical scientists had a median annual salary of $76,980, and biochemists and biophysicists had a median salary of $81,480.
Lab research and teaching jobs can also be found at universities and medical schools. University professors must balance their time between designing research, managing their lab and teaching. Senior professors often have other administrative duties as well, such as acting as academic deans or department heads, designing department curricula and sitting on academic committees.
Tenure-track faculty positions at 4-year universities usually require a Ph.D. and several years of postdoctoral research experience. Lecturer positions at 4-year universities and tenure-track positions at 2-year colleges may only require a master's degree. Faculty positions at medical schools usually require an M.D.
Salary and Job Outlook
The BLS projects that jobs for postsecondary biological sciences teachers will increase by 19% over the 2012-2022 decade, which is about as fast as average. In May 2012, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for postsecondary biological science teachers was $74,180.
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