Careers in Bioanalytical Chemistry

Explore the career requirements for bioanalytical chemists. Learn more about job duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Science, Technology, and International Security degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Bioanalytical Chemist?

A bioanalytical chemist is an analytical chemist who specializes in the molecular analysis of biological specimens, such as protein, DNA, and metabolites. They typically work in the field of medical research, studying biological processes and properties in order to figure out how to improve disease detection methods and create new, more effective drugs. They design and run experiments in their area of interest within the field, analyze their results and write up their findings for presentation to the academic and/or medical community, often in the form of academic journal articles.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this profession.

Degree Required PhD
Education Field of Study Bioanalytical chemistry, organic chemistry
Key Skills Analytical thinking, critical thinking, math, communication, organization
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 3% (for all chemists)*
Median Salary (2015) $71,260 (for all chemists)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is the Job Description of a Bioanalytical Chemist?

Bioanalytical chemists identify and characterize biological processes and use their findings for early detection of diseases, such as cancer. As a bioanalytical chemist, you may also be engaged in developing new drugs. While your responsibilities might vary depending on the type of project you are working on, some examples could include measuring protein therapeutics, evaluating immune responses and tracking disease biomarker changes. You can additionally expect to present data in professional settings, collaborate with teams from other disciplines, prepare technical documents and outline regulations. More experienced bioanalytical chemists may oversee teams of scientists, requiring you to balance laboratory and managerial duties.

What Education is Required?

Positions in this field often require a doctoral degree. Degree programs for bioanalytical chemists allow you to take on additional specializations, such as clinical chemistry, environmental chemistry or molecular medicine. You can likely expect to combine didactic learning with laboratory training. The following are examples of classes you might find in the curriculum:

  • Cell metabolism
  • Electrochemistry
  • Molecular genetics
  • Chemical dynamics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical separation methods

Some of the essential professional and scientific skills you could learn include research methods, techniques for validating analytical methods, performing biochemical assays and chemical product development.

Are There Other Requirements?

If you are considering a university faculty position working, you may need substantial research experience. Many doctoral candidates in bioanalytical chemistry aim to develop a body of published work before graduating. One way to do this is to collaborate with a faculty mentor on research projects, conference presentations or articles for peer-reviewed science journals. Faculty mentors can later serve as professional contacts or references for research or teaching positions. Attending a school where you can use industry-standard bioanalytical equipment may also help you find employment.

Will I Be Able to Get a Job?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the employment of chemists, including bioanalytical chemists, is expected to increase by 3% between 2014 and 2024; this is slower than average for jobs in the U.S. (www.bls.gov). Some of the growth is likely to be in small research and development companies within the pharmaceutical industry, as well as in the environmental field. The median annual salary for chemists in May 2015 was $71,260, according to BLS data.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

As a chemist, you could choose to focus your research in a different area of the field, such as physical chemistry or inorganic chemistry. Although your basic job responsibilities would be similar to those of bioanalytical chemists, you would use different techniques and engage with different chemical concepts. Alternatively, if you are interested in medicine, you could choose to practice in the field instead of doing health-related research. For a job as a physician or surgeon, you would need to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree and complete a residency program.

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