Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics

A combination of interests in technology, engineering, biology, chemistry and math can lead to a career as a biochemist, molecular biologist or biophysicist. Explore job duties, employment outlook, salaries and required education for these careers.

Are Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics for Me?

Career Summary

Biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics explore the physical functions, structures and basic chemical components of living organisms at the molecular level. In addition to biological research, careers in biology can be found pharmaceutical research, scientific writing, the biotechnology industry and in government. Undergraduate and graduate programs are offered within the biological sciences, which cater to biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysics topics.

Employment Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for biochemists and biophysicists will increase by 19% between 2012 and 2022 (www.bls.gov). This growth rate is driven mainly by continuing advances in biological research technology. An employment growth rate of 19% is also predicted for biology science professors during the same period. The BLS reported that the median wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $84,320 as of May 2013, while biology science professors took home $75,740.

How Can I Become a Biochemist, Molecular Biologist or Biophysicist?

Undergraduate Education

In high school, take as many math, physics, technology, chemistry and biology classes as you can. Colleges offer degrees in subjects like biochemistry, molecular biology and biophysics at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Molecular biology , biophysics and biochemistry undergraduate studies are often accompanied by courses in calculus, organic chemistry, microbiology and labs.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, more room for specialization exists. Doctoral (Ph.D.) programs in biophysics can include classes in neuroscience, proteins or molecular biophysics, as well as quantum mechanics, genetics and bacteriology. Molecular biology Ph.D. programs might explore molecular pharmacology, physiology, biotechnology and evolutionary biology. Biochemistry Ph.D. programs involve studies in cell structure and dynamics, bioinformatics, bioethics and labs. Some Ph.D programs provide the opportunity for interdisciplinary studies and research according to your specific interests.

As a graduate, you can seek work in settings as varied as hospitals, agribusiness firms or academia. Research opportunities can be found in both the private and public sectors. Successful lab research and work experience could help you advance within the profession.

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