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What can I do with my degree?: Biochemistry

If you are looking for a career at the crossroads between biology and medicine, then biochemistry could be for you

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Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

During your degree you develop practical and technical skills through laboratory-based work and your final year research project that will prepare you well for a research or technical position. To improve your chances try to get work experience, for example a summer internship, in a research laboratory or company.

Some universities provide a four-year undergraduate course that includes an industry/research placement year, usually undertaken in the pharmaceutical or biotechnical industries or a research institute. Opportunities also exist to take a placement abroad, expanding your career prospects. Work placements help develop key skills further and provide opportunities for building contacts and networking.

Whatever your career plans (or even if you don't have any as yet), it is important to enhance your degree with extra skills and experiences which show that you are a proactive person engaging with the world around you.

Typical employers

The main employers of biochemistry graduates in the public sector are research institutes, universities, government departments, the National Health Service, forensic science services and the Environment Agency. Opportunities exist in government laboratories such as the Food & Environment Research Agency (FERA) and public health laboratories such as Public Health England.

Biochemistry graduates are also employed in industry. Typical employers include pharmaceutical, biotechnology, food, water and agricultural companies. Small companies employ biochemists to provide specialist services, such as toxicological studies.

Other employers include scientific and medical publishers and the Intellectual Property Office (as patent examiners).

Find information on employers in science and pharmaceuticals, healthcare, teaching and education and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

During your degree you develop specific skills associated with biochemistry. These include:

  • the ability to understand complex biological processes;
  • having a full and critical understanding of relevant texts;
  • assembling arguments and engaging in debate;
  • critical and analytical skills;
  • independent thinking and problem-solving.

Other general skills include:

  • practical skills;
  • numeracy;
  • communication, presentation and IT skills;
  • teamwork;
  • self-management and professional development.

You can demonstrate your experience in these areas by giving examples from the practical work and group projects included in your degree course.

Further study

It is common for biochemists to continue their higher education if they are intending to develop a career in the biosciences. A PhD is essential for academic research or to secure a career as an academic lecturer. Even for those entering research in industry or associated careers such as publishing, science communication or clinical careers, further qualifications are an asset and increasingly essential.

If you are aiming for a career path away from science, for example in teaching, law, finance or other non-scientific careers, consider what kind of professional qualifications may stand you in good stead for getting into your chosen career. With a biochemistry degree you can also apply for graduate entry to medicine, dentistry and veterinary science.

For more information on further study and to find a course that interest you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search postgraduate courses.

What do biochemistry graduates do?

One in six graduates are working in the UK as laboratory technicians, biochemists and medical scientists six months after graduating.

Almost 40% of graduates are undertaking further study or combining further study and work.

Graduate destinations for biochemistry
Destinations Percentage
Employed 48.4%
Further study 33.5%
Working and studying 5.2%
Unemployed 8.9%
Other 4%
Types of work entered in the UK
Retail, catering and bar work 17.1%
Technicians and other professionals 16.5%
Science 15%
Secretarial and numerical clerks 9.1%
Other 42.3%

Find out what other science graduates are doing six months after finishing their degrees in What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2014

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