Biochemistry majors have a diverse range of choices when it comes to career options, including positions in sales and laboratory research. A bachelor's degree is often enough to find work in this field; however, a master's degree is often required for more advanced positions, particularly in a research capacity.
Biochemistry majors may find jobs with pharmaceutical companies, government agencies or health organizations. Students majoring in biochemistry may take classes in mathematics, chemistry and molecular biology to prepare for a variety of positions, including research assistant, clinical lab technologist and pharmaceutical sales rep.
|Job Options||Pharmaceutical Sales Rep||Clinical Lab Technologist||Research Assistant|
|Other Requirements||Employer/manufacturer training||Licensure or registration in some states||None|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||6.9% (for all wholesale and manufacturing sales reps that sell technical and scientific products)*||14%*||No job outlook data given*|
|Median Salary||$76,190 (for all wholesale and manufacturing sales reps who sell technical and scientific products, as of 2015)*||$60,520 (as of 2015)*||$38,592 (as of 2016)**|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com
Biochemistry Career Options
Students who graduate with a degree in biochemistry may have a choice of science-related careers. Biochemists may find work not only in research facilities and laboratories, but also in private industry, pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology firms and government agencies. A bachelor's degree in biochemistry may also be used to meet the entry requirements for medical, dental, veterinary, optometry or other professional schools.
An undergraduate biochemistry degree is also a good foundation for graduate study in any of the biological sciences. A master's or doctoral degree in the field may lead to advanced research opportunities or teaching at the college or university level.
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
Pharmaceutical sales representatives combine their knowledge of medical drugs and treatments with their interpersonal skills to generate sales for pharmaceutical companies. Sales representatives typically are in charge of coordinating meetings with doctors and medical staff. These professionals travel to hospitals, health care facilities and pharmacies to present a product or treatment. Sales representatives generally have acquired product knowledge through employer or manufacturer-sponsored training courses.
The BLS reports that sales representatives of technical and scientific products, such as those within the pharmaceutical industry, earned a median annual salary of $76,190 as of May 2015. A 6.9% increase in employment for wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives who sell technical and scientific products is projected for the 2014-2024 decade.
Clinical Laboratory Technologist
Clinical laboratory technologists use their backgrounds in biochemistry to conduct experiments on bacteria, viruses and microorganisms. Technologists may perform tests on levels of compounds in human blood, monitor growth of bacteria or examine the effects of drugs on viruses. Depending on the laboratory environment they are in, these professionals may be involved in a broad range of studies or specialize in a specific field, such as bacteriology or virology. Clinical laboratory technologists may find employment in government health agencies, drug manufacturing companies or health care facilities.
Medical and clinical laboratory technologists earned a median annual salary of $60,520 as of May 2015, states the BLS. Jobs in this industry are expected to increase by 14% from 2014 to 2024.
Another option for biochemistry majors is a career as a research assistant, working in government or private laboratories, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals or facilities connected to the growing field of biotechnology. Though jobs involving a high level of research will require an advanced degree, there are still many jobs at the assistant or technician level open to those with undergraduate degrees.
PayScale.com reports that clinical research assistants earned a median annual salary of $38,592 as of October 2016. The BLS does not provide employment outlook data for research assistants.
While a major in biochemistry can lead to quite a few entry-level positions in various industries, it might also act as a stepping stone for graduates who wish to pursue a degree in a field such as dentistry, veterinary science, or medicine. For graduates interested in research, a career as a clinical laboratory technologist involves performing lab tests on microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses, while a job as a research assistant can offer an opportunity to work in a laboratory setting in a support role. Alternatively, a pharmaceutical sales representative combines their biochemistry background with strong communication skills to sell products or treatments to professionals in a health care facility.