A biochemistry degree opens up a range of careers in industry and research in areas such as health, agriculture and the environment
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Academic researcher
- Analytical chemist
- Biomedical scientist
- Clinical research associate
- Clinical scientist, biochemistry
- Forensic scientist
- Medicinal chemist
- Physician associate
- Research scientist (life sciences)
- Scientific laboratory technician
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Chartered accountant
- Environmental engineer
- Health and safety inspector
- Medical science liaison
- Patent examiner
- Science writer
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
The practical and technical skills you develop during your biochemistry degree - through laboratory-based work and your final year research project - prepare you well for a research or technical position. Obtaining some work experience, for example a summer internship in a research laboratory or company, will help to boost your chances of finding a job.
Some universities provide a four-year undergraduate course that includes an industry/research placement year. This is 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, it's important to enhance your degree with extra skills and experiences, which show that you are a proactive person engaging with the world around you.
The main employers of biochemistry graduates in the public sector include:
- Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency
- forensic science services
- government departments
- National Health Service
- research institutes
Opportunities exist in public health laboratories such as Public Health England and in the laboratories of companies such as Fera.
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). You can also use your biochemistry skills and knowledge in areas such as sales and marketing, where you could be selling the latest technology, and law firms dealing with scientific cases.
Skills for your CV
During your degree you'll develop specific skills associated with biochemistry, such as:
- in-depth knowledge of molecular biology techniques
- practical laboratory skills
- the ability to understand complex biological processes
- the ability to assemble an argument and engage in debate
- observation skills
- research and data analysis
- critical thinking and problem solving.
Other general skills include:
- maths and information technology
- communication and presentation
- report writing
- planning and time management
- the ability to work to deadlines
- self-management and the ability to work independently.
You can demonstrate your experience in these areas by giving examples from the practical work and group projects included in your degree course, as well as any work experience you've done.
Some undergraduate courses integrate three years of undergraduate study with a further fourth year of study at postgraduate level, leading to a Masters qualification.
Study at Masters or PhD level is usually required for a career in research or industry. A PhD, for example, is essential for academic research or to secure a career as an academic lecturer. Even for associated careers such as publishing, science communication or clinical careers, further qualifications can be an asset and are becoming increasingly important.
You'll also need to undertake further study for careers in teaching or law, for example.
With a biochemistry degree you can also apply for graduate entry to medicine, dentistry and veterinary science.
What do biochemistry graduates do?
A fifth of graduates are working in the UK as either biochemists, medical scientists or laboratory technicians six months after graduation. A large proportion of graduates go on to further study.
|Working and studying||4.8|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Technicians and other professionals||19.4|
|Retail, catering and bar work||12.3|
|Business, HR and financial||11.8|
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.