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How do I get Started in a Biochemistry Career?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

A biochemistry career requires a combination of technical skill, creativity, and in-depth knowledge. The field of biochemistry is quite broad, with opportunities to focus in a range of specialties. There are four items required to start a biochemistry career: post-secondary education, identifying a primary area of interest or focus, gaining relevant work experience, and identifying job opportunities.

Biochemistry is the study of the chemicals that comprise biological systems. An excellent example of biochemistry is the impact of chemicals on the function of the brain. The correct mixture is required to maintain standard functions, and any disruption in the balance causes problems and illness.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

Post-secondary education is mandatory to get started in a biochemistry career. The level of information required is simply not taught at the high school level, nor can it be learned on the job. There are two levels of education: university or college. University training provides the greatest flexibility within the field of biochemistry. A college training program limits the opportunities available to technologist, sales representative, laboratory supervisor, or related career paths.

While in school, students should select an area of focus or specialization. Due to the sheer size and breadth of opportunities available, it is best to select an area of focus. Look at the types of courses offered in the senior years of your program and talk with your career counselor about the job opportunities available in that area.

Relevant work experience is very important when trying to start your biochemistry career. Any work experience in a laboratory setting is very valuable, as is teamwork, communication skills, and project management. On your resume, highlight work experience that has allowed you to use or develop these skills.

When looking for a position, cast a broad net. Look at online job posting boards, jobs listed at your schools career center, and ads placed in the newspaper. Make a list of the top 10 biochemistry related firms in your city and look on their websites for job opportunities. Contact the human resources department and ask about any temporary or contract positions that might not be publicly listed.

Register with the local technical skills temporary placement agency, read the industry publications, and contact featured employers to ask about entry-level opportunities. Many students misunderstand their value in the workplace after graduation. From an employer’s perspective, the training you completed was necessary to qualify for an entry-level job. At least five years of working experience in biochemistry is required to provide value to the employer. Do not refuse any job in your field, but take it as an opportunity to learn.

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      Scientist with beakers