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Biochemist and Biophysicist
Summary Job Description Education Skills, Abilities and Interests More Information

Education RequiredMost Ph.D. holders in biochemistry and biophysics have bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry or a related field, such as biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. Many schools have bachelor's degree programs in biochemistry, but few schools have bachelor's degree programs in biophysics. In addition to completing required courses in biology and chemistry, students must typically take courses in mathematics, physics, and computer science. Courses in mathematics and computer science are important for biochemists and biophysicists, who must be able to do complex data analysis.

Most bachelor's degree programs include required laboratory coursework. Additional laboratory coursework is excellent preparation for graduate school or for getting an entry-level position in industry. Students also can gain valuable laboratory experience through internships with prospective employers such as pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturers.

Ph.D. programs typically include 2 years of advanced coursework in topics such as toxicology, genetics, and proteomics (the study of proteins). Graduate students also spend a lot of time conducting laboratory research. It typically takes 4 to 6 years to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry or biophysics.

Most biochemistry and biophysics Ph.D. holders begin their careers in a temporary postdoctoral research position, which typically lasts 2 to 3 years. During their postdoctoral appointment, they work with experienced scientists as they continue to learn about their specialties or develop a broader understanding of related areas of research.

Postdoctoral positions frequently offer the opportunity to publish research findings. A solid record of published research is essential to get a permanent position doing basic research, especially for those seeking a permanent college or university faculty position.

Recommended High School CoursesBiology, Mathematics, Chemistry

Postsecondary Instructional ProgramsMathematics, Chemistry, Biology

Certification and LicensingNone