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Biochemist Profile

 
Introduction

This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as an Biochemist. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as an Biochemist
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Biochemist Work Information


Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Biochemists work to understand basic biological processes in animals, plants and microbes. Some examples of the specialist work they do include:

• developing new medicines and treatments
• working with doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat patients
• analysing samples for poisons and drugs
• identifying, deciphering and manipulating the genetic code
• working out how biological systems work, from the brain to the blood system, the immune system to hormones
• teaching and supervising students in a university or teaching hospital.

They use complex equipment and procedures, and computers. They design and conduct experiments, publish the results, and present their work at scientific conferences. Most biochemists work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional evening and weekend work. On-call work may be involved for those working in hospitals and industry. Biochemists work in laboratories, which are clean, and some of the work requires sterile conditions.

A biochemist needs to be:

• able to think clearly and logically
• good at problem solving
• able to work accurately and pay attention to detail
• interested in, and good at, science.

Large numbers of biochemists work throughout the UK. They are widely employed in the public and private sector. Employers include, universities, government departments and agencies, the NHS, and firms in industry and commerce.

Most biochemists are graduates. A degree, and sometimes a postgraduate qualification, are needed for some jobs. There are no age limits for starting work as a biochemist, and the entry requirements are the same as for younger applicants.

All biochemists and technicians are given continuing on-the-job training to learn new laboratory techniques and IT developments, to keep up to date in their specialist area and to keep abreast of health and safety regulations.
Biochemists and technicians are likely to need to relocate to progress in their careers.

What does the role encounter?

Biochemistry is the study of the molecular basis of all aspects of the structure and function of living things. Using the principles and techniques of chemistry and molecular biology, biochemists, alongside other scientists, work to understand basic biological processes in animals, plants and microbes. Biochemistry has formed the basis for genetic modification and biotechnology. Biochemists work in a large range of specialisms, including:

• developing new medicines and treatments for illness and disease
• working with doctors to diagnose, monitor and treat patients
• screening for the signs of disease
• analysing samples for poisons and drugs
• identifying, deciphering and manipulating the genetic code
• working out how various biological systems work, from the brain to the blood system, the immune system to hormones
• forensic investigation, including genetic fingerprinting
• improving crop production or resistance to pests and diseases
• combating environmental pollution
• teaching and supervising students in a university or teaching hospital.

They work in teams with other scientists and technicians. These could include bioinformaticians, cell biologists, chemists, geneticists, immunologists, microbiologists, molecular biologists, physiologists and pharmacologists.
Working as a biochemist involves using complex, sophisticated and sensitive equipment and procedures. Much of the equipment used depends on computer technology, so it is important to understand computers.

Biochemists design and conduct experiments, make observations, and then write up their work in reports and scientific papers and present these at scientific meetings or conferences. In universities or teaching hospitals, biochemists are involved in teaching and supervising students.

What type of hours will I have to work?

Most biochemists work 37 hours a week, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. They sometimes have to work evenings and weekends. Academics and research scientists in industry tend to work longer hours. On-call work may be involved for those working in hospitals and industry.

Biochemists work in laboratories, which are clean and well lit. The equipment they work with may be complex, expensive and computer-controlled. Some of this work requires sterile conditions. Biochemists may work with hazardous substances, or micro-organisms, which cause infectious diseases. Some samples may be unpleasant. The work can involve sitting or standing at a bench or piece of equipment for long periods.

Most biochemists wear some form of protective clothing, either to protect themselves or to prevent contamination of samples or equipment. This will depend on the work, and can include coats, gloves, masks, eye protection, or even all-over sealed protective suits.

They may sometimes travel to scientific meetings and conferences.

What level of salary and benefits are there?

These figures are purely for guidance only. Salaries may vary for the area the job is situated in, age, experience along with a host of other factors:

Biochemists' pay varies according to their employer and the work they do. Generally, pay is higher in the private sector. The following figures are for a clinical biochemist working in the NHS.

• Trainees on Grade A are paid between £15,793 and £19,978.
• Grade B, the main professional grade, pays from £20,781 to £38,919.
• Clinical biochemists on the top of Grade C are equivalent to consultants, and can earn up to £62,312.

What type of skills will I need?

You will need to have some or all of the following type of skills to carry out this job:

• be very good at science
• have enquiring minds and be able to think clearly and logically
• be good at problem solving
• be able to work accurately
• be able to work in, and lead, a team of professionals
• have excellent communication skills
• be able to keep up with advances in their field
• understand statistics, data analysis and computer packages.

What type of training will I receive?

All biochemists and technicians are given continuing on-the-job training to learn new laboratory techniques and IT developments, to keep up to date in their specialist area and to keep abreast of health and safety regulations. There will also be training for personal development, management or supervisory responsibilities.

Clinical biochemists must do a four-year training programme to get registered status, and will work towards examinations for Membership of the Royal College of Pathologists (MRC Path).

Technicians can study for NVQs/SVQs Levels 2, 3 or 4 in Laboratory Skills, or for national or higher national diplomas/certificates or degrees.

Career Progression:

Biochemists and technicians are likely to need to relocate to progress in their careers.

Large companies are continuing to outsource specialist scientific work, as well as some more routine work. There is also an increase in the number of spinout companies from universities. These trends have resulted in more biochemists working for small or medium-sized companies, and more opportunities to become self-employed or to start their own company.

Are there similar types of job or related industries?

Yes, this list is not exhaustive but see the following categories:

Biologist
Biomedical Scientist
Biotechnologist
Chemist
Clinical Scientist
Food Scientist
Forensic Scientist
Laboratory Technician
Microbiologist
Pharmacologist
Research Scientist.

Where can I find further information?

Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), 12 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY. 020 7930 3477. Website: www.abpi.org.uk

Association of Clinical Biochemists, 130-132 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU. 020 7403 8001. Website: www.acb.org.uk

Biochemical Society, 59 Portland Place, London W1B 1QW. 020 7580 5530. Website: www.biochemistry.org

Bioindustry Association, 14/15 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PS. 020 7565 7190. Website: www.bioindustry.org

Biosciences Federation, 76 Portland Place, London W1B 1NT. 020 7269 5711. Website: www.bsf.ac.uk

Forensic Science Society, Clarke House, 18A Mount Parade, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 1BX. 01423 506 068. Website: www.forensic-science-society.org.uk

NHS Careers, P.O. Box 376, Bristol BS99 3EY. 0845 606 0655. Website: www.nhscareers.nhs.uk

Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, 1 Lambeth High Street, London SE1 7JN. 020 7735 9141. Website: www.rpsgb.org.uk

The Wellcome Trust, 215 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE. 020 7611 8888. Website: www.wellcome.ac.uk

What trade magazines are available for this industry?

All of the following magazines and journals can be purchased from any good bookstore:

Nature
New Scientist
Science


Other Useful Biochemist Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Biochemist job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Biochemist Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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