Biochemists and Biophysicists

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About the Job

Study the chemical composition or physical principles of living cells and organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, and related phenomena. May conduct research to further understanding of the complex chemical combinations and reactions involved in metabolism, reproduction, growth, and heredity. May determine the effects of foods, drugs, serums, hormones, and other substances on tissues and vital processes of living organisms.

It is also Called

  • Toxicologist
  • Staff Toxicologist
  • Scientist
  • Research Scientist
  • Research Associate
  • Research Assistant
  • Research Affiliate
  • Quality Control Associate (QC Associate)
  • Professor of Physics/Researcher in Biophysics
  • Physical Biochemist
show all

What They Do

  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • Research how characteristics of plants or animals are carried through successive generations.
  • Develop methods to process, store, or use foods, drugs, or chemical compounds.
  • Design or build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • Develop or test new drugs or medications intended for commercial distribution.
  • Research transformations of substances in cells, using atomic isotopes.
  • Examine the molecular or chemical aspects of immune system functioning.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
  • Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.

Interests

People who work in this occupation generally have the interest code: IAS.

This means people who work in this occupation generally have Investigative interests, but also prefer Artistic and Social environments.

Work Values

People who work in this occupation generally prize Recognition, but also value Achievement and Working Conditions in their jobs.

Things They Need to Know

  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Things They Need to Be Able to Do

  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Preparation Required

Most of these occupations require graduate school. For example, they may require a master's degree, and some require a Ph.D., M.D., or J.D. (law degree).

Wages

In 2016, the average annual wage in California was $107,760 with most people making between $49,390 and $180,800

Outlook

2.59%
avg. annual growth

During 2014, this occupation employed approximately 5,400 people in California. It is projected that there will be 6,800 employed in 2024.

This occupation will have about 140 openings due to growth and about 150 replacement openings for approximately 290 total annual openings.