How to Become a Protein Biochemistry Research Associate

Aug 28, 2018

Learn how to become a protein biochemistry research associate. Research the education requirements, training information, and experience required for starting a career in the biochemistry research field.

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  • 0:04 Protein Biochemistry Research
  • 0:48 Career Requirements
  • 1:41 Required Career Steps

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Protein Biochemistry Research

Protein biochemistry research associates investigate and analyze the function and structure of proteins. Some typical duties of a protein biochemistry research associate include novel gene building, expression and identification, testing process improvements through experimentation, and presenting research findings at meetings.

They might be employed in private industry or academia, and they typically work in collaboration with scientists, other staff members, and interns. The majority of such associates work on a full-time basis, keeping regular schedules. Appropriate clothing and protective gear, such as goggles and gloves, must be used while research associates work in laboratories.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Bachelor of Science
Degree Field(s) Biochemistry, bioengineering, molecular biology, or related fields
Experience Entry-level; some employers prefer 1-2 years
Key Skills Self-starters and perseverant, with analytical, critical-thinking, interpersonal, math, problem-solving, speaking, and writing skills; able to use word processing, analytical, CAD, graphics, and object- or component-oriented developmental software; capable of working independently and using benchtop centrifuges, binocular light compound microscopes, lasers, light scattering equipment, and spectrometers
Salary (2016) $69,065 (median annual salary for all research associates, which include protein biochemistry research associates)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine, Employer job postings (January 2013), (2016)

Required Career Steps

What steps do I need to take to become a protein biochemistry research associate?

Step 1: Earn a Bachelor's Degree

After earning a high school diploma or its equivalent, individuals desiring careers as protein biochemistry research associates need to complete a Bachelor of Science program in a biological science, such as biochemistry or bioengineering. Bachelor's programs are usually around four years in duration and require full-time attendance. Along with traditional lectures, many of these programs include hands-on research opportunities. Some programs offer specializations in areas like biophysics or molecular biology. Examples of required courses in a biochemistry program with a molecular biology emphasis include microanatomy, virology, bioinformatics, and genetics.

You'll want to take advantage of networking and research opportunities. Students should consider getting to know professors who conduct independent research. Students also might consider joining clubs and organizations that provide professional networking and research opportunities, as well as industry events, for future career prospects and resume building.

You also want to develop strong communication skills. Employers seeking research associates often list excellent communication skills as an important trait.

Step 2: Gain Research Lab Experience

After earning a bachelor's degree in a relevant area, aspiring protein biochemistry research associates can qualify for some entry-level research associate or assistant positions. Although many protein biochemistry research associate positions require a candidate to have related work experience, some positions are available without experience requirements. Research experience acquired during the undergraduate program might also be helpful for career prospects.

Step 3: Prepare for Advancement

Research associates usually work on teams with other associates and scientists and present findings in group meetings. Taking some elective courses designed to improve written and/or spoken communication skills, such as public speaking or public relations, could help with future career prospects.

Protein biochemistry research associates investigate and analyze proteins. They have bachelor's degrees and expertise using scientific software and tools and they earn a median annual salary of $69,065.

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