Molecular Biochemistry

Molecular biochemistry deals with the study of chemical processes in living organisms. Learn about job duties,employment possibilities and degree programs to determine if this is the right career for you.

Is Molecular Biochemistry for Me?

Career Overview

Molecular biochemistry is a sub-discipline of biochemistry, which is a branch of chemistry. Molecular biochemistry involves the investigation of chemical processes that take place within living organisms at the molecular level. Molecular biochemistry focuses on macromolecules, such as viruses, membranes or enzymes, or more specifically, their function and structure. Biochemists utilize tools such as electron microscopes, lasers, spectrometers and computer software.

Employment Options

At the undergraduate level, you may major in subjects, such as biochemistry, molecular biochemistry and biophysics, cellular and molecular biochemistry or molecular biology. Upon graduation, you may find an entry-level position in applied research and development, as well as a position in the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries. An undergraduate degree may give you a solid foundation for further studies in medical research, medicine or other professional degree programs.

A master's degree may also be good preparation for a medical degree. If you decide to enroll in a Ph.D. degree program, you may find work as a research scientist, scientific administrator or university professor. If you are already a doctor, veterinarian, dentist or lawyer, you may decide to enroll in a graduate program in molecular biochemistry to increase you career options. An emerging area of molecular biochemistry is genomics, the combination of molecular biochemistry with bioinformatics. You may find careers in genomics with governmental agencies, such as the FDA (Federal Drug Administration), or biotechnology companies.

Job Outlook and Salary Statistics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists was $84,320 as of May 2013 (www.bls.gov). For this profession, the BLS predicted a faster than average job growth rate of 19% for the 2012-2022 decade. If you're interested in teaching, the BLS also noted that the median annual wage for high school teachers was $55,360, and for postsecondary biology teachers it was $75,740, as of May 2013.

How Can I Work in Molecular Biochemistry?

Education Information

Institutions generally do not offer degree program in just molecular biochemistry at the undergraduate or graduate levels of study; however, you may find a master's program in only molecular biochemistry, but they are rare. Programs usually combine the study of molecular biochemistry with other scientific disciplines, such as molecular biophysics, cellular biochemistry or bioinformatics.

Courses of Study

In high school, it would be to your advantage to take courses in computers, technology, biology, chemistry and physics. At a 4-year accredited university, enrolling in a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences, such as molecular biochemistry/biology, biology or biophysics, would help you begin your career. Core courses strengthen your background in physics, genetics, chemistry, mathematics and molecular biology. Additional biology classes in microbiology, ecology and systematics may help broaden your career possibilities.

Graduate Programs

A Master of Science in Molecular Biochemistry allows you to study biomolecules and their chemistry. You may take courses in physical chemistry, focusing on molecular structure and molecular dynamics, molecular modeling, computational chemistry, bioinorganic chemistry, supramolecular chemistry and biochemical analysis.

Courses at the graduate level focus more on research, lab work and advanced topics like bioinformatics and spectroscopy. A Ph.D. program generally requires you to write a dissertation, which may take up to four years, for a total of up to ten years of combined undergraduate and graduate study.

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