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Biochemists and Biophysicists
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Description: what do they do?
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.
Also known as:
Research Associate, Scientist, Biochemist, Research Affiliate, Analytical Research Chemist, Biophysics Researcher

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: Researching a new medical cure… unlocking DNA’s secrets… or developing a more resilient variety of wheat… biochemists and biophysicists study living things and the processes that make them grow, change, and die. These scientists design and conduct experiments, such as testing the effects of drugs, or learning how different cells divide and grow. They may study evolution in plants and animals, nerve cell communication, or how proteins work. Advanced technology is often used on the job, including lasers and fluorescent microscopes. Biophysicists and biochemists prepare technical reports and research papers, and may make recommendations to a research sponsor. They may also lead laboratory teams and ensure the quality of their work. Conducting scientific experiments takes accuracy and precision, as well as strong math skills, good judgment, and perseverance. The ability to communicate and work with a team is just as essential for these scientists. Biochemists and biophysicists typically work in laboratories to conduct experiments… and in offices to analyze the results. Most work full time and keep regular hours. Employers include research and development companies, higher education, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Biochemists and biophysicists need a Ph.D. to work in independent research and development positions. Some entry-level positions may be obtained with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in the field.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings" above. This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations, 2019. Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll only see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
N/A
2016 Employment
N/A
2026 Employment
N/A
Percent change
N/A
Annual projected job openings
United States
30,400
2018 Employment
32,300
2028 Employment
6%
Percent change
3,100
Annual projected job openings
N/A: We do not have employment projections in this state for this occupation.

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2016 (for states) or 2018 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2026 (for states) or 2028 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and each state's Labor Market Information office, 2016-26.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2018-28.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Biochemists and Biophysicists in United States
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationUSUnited States
10%N/A$50,620
25%N/A$66,550
MedianN/A$94,490
75%N/A$132,200
90%N/A$182,870


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics Program, May 2019 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • Doctoral or professional degree
  • No work experience
  • No on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:

    What does this information tell me?

    This shows you the typical level of education, work experience, and on-the-job training that most people have when they start in this career. Note that these are not requirements for entering this field, but the information can help you understand how qualified you might be.

    Interested in starting in this career? You can search for education programs in your local area by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Education and training assignments by detailed occupation, 2018.

Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2016–17.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
  • Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
  • Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
  • Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
  • Develop biological research methods.
  • Write grant proposals.
  • Design research studies to obtain scientific information.
  • Analyze biological samples.
  • Set up laboratory or field equipment.
  • Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
  • Research diseases or parasites.
  • Develop new or advanced products or production methods.
  • Research genetic characteristics or expression.
  • Research methods to improve food products.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Science - Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Reading work-related information.
  • Writing - Writing things for co-workers or customers.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Active Learning - Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Learning Strategies - Using the best training or teaching strategies for learning new things.
  • Mathematics - Using math to solve problems.
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Instructing - Teaching people how to do something.
  • Systems Analysis - Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Written Comprehension - Reading and understanding what is written.
  • Written Expression - Communicating by writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Category Flexibility - Grouping things in different ways.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Originality - Creating new and original ideas.
  • Fluency of Ideas - Coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Flexibility of Closure - Seeing hidden patterns.
  • Number Facility - Adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Artistic - Occupations with Artistic interests frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and allow for developing unique approaches to conducting the work.
  • Investigative - Occupations with Investigative interests frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They often involve research and figuring out problems mentally.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • 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.
  • Manage laboratory teams or monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
  • 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.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Prepare reports or recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Design or build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • 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.
  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Research how characteristics of plants or animals are carried through successive generations.
  • 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.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

Other resources

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.