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Career Profiles of Biochemists & Biophysicists

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/15/2010

Biochemists and biophysicists really do not differ much in terms of careers and education. However, there are some differences that you should be aware of before choosing your career path.

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    Biochemists and Biophysicists Biochemists and biophysicists are really not very different overall. Both are scientists that study living organisms and their association to the environment. They study the physical principles and chemical composition of organisms and living cells, their mechanical and electrical energy, and any phenomena that is related. Learning the differences between these two careers paths is important because though there are many similarities, there are just enough differences to where not everyone will enjoy a career in both fields.

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Magnus Manske

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    Education Requirements

    A bachelor's degree in applied science is usually enough for biochemists and biophysicists who are seeking to work in product development, inspection, applied research, or management. A master's degree, however, will open more doors and make finding employment easier. A PhD is necessary for those seeking to conduct independent research. When pursuing a bachelor's in applied science students will typically take a course load heavy in food science and nutrition, chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, life sciences, environmental science, and other sciences.

    Those seeking careers in these fields must also be able to work as a team or alone. They must possess strong written and oral communication skills. Those seeking administrative or managerial careers should also have proficient business skills, as well as be familiar with management and marketing techniques and regulatory issues.

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    Career Options

    A biophysicist studies how physics, like mechanical and electrical energy, is associated with organisms and living cells, while a biochemist studies living things' chemical composition. Careers can be found in the following industries:

    • Scientific research and development services
    • Universities, colleges, and professional schools
    • Measuring, control, navigational, and electromedical instruments manufacturing
    • Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing
    • Engineering, architectural, and related services

    Top paying industries include the following:

    • Physicians' offices: an average of $139,150 per year
    • Management of enterprises and companies: $112,030 per year
    • Cleaning compound, soap, and toilet preparation manufacturing: $95,470 per year
    • Outpatient career centers: $134,180 per year
    • General medical and surgical hospitals: $105,840 per year

    Those who are biochemists or biophysicists can pursue a variety of job titles. These include:

    • Various biomedical laboratory positions
    • Aerospace and operational physiologist
    • Biochemists
    • Human factors scientist/behavioral science
    • Clinical laboratory
    • Various veterinary positions
    • Entomologist
    • Biophysicist
    • Food safety officer
    • Health physicist
    • Historian
    • Laboratory sciences
    • Medical technologist
    • Nuclear medicine sciences
    • microbiologist
    • Radiation specialist
    • Physiologist
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    Salary and Career Outlook

    On average, the median annual wage for biochemists and biophysicists is about $82,390. Those in the top 90 percent earn about $138,820 per year. The lowest average wage is about $44,990 per year. The job outlook for both career paths is excellent and is estimated to grow faster than average through 2018, than other master's degree-required occupations. This means that those with at least a master's degree will see the most employment opportunities.

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    Resources

    US Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2009). Biochemists and Biophysicists. Retrieved on December 10, 2010 from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics: http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes191021.htm

    MyFuture.com. (2010). Biochemists and biophysicists. Retrieved on December 10, 2010 from MyFuture.com: http://www.myfuture.com/military/overview/biochemists-and-biophysicists_19-1021.00