Medical Biochemistry Careers: Job Options and Requirements

Degrees in medical biochemistry typically cover biology and medicine topics. Find out about the curricula of these programs, and learn about career options, job growth and salary info for medical biochemistry graduates.

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Careers in medical biochemistry are typically research related, and require higher education like a master's degree or Ph.D. Working as a medical biochemistry technician involves working in a lab, assisting in research by preparing samples, running simple tests, and communicating with doctors or scientists. This position requires an associate's or bachelor's degree. Working as a medical research scientist or biochemistry professor pays better, and typically requires a Ph.D. and a strong track record of research work experience.

Essential Information

Medical biochemistry is a field that studies different types of molecules in hopes of bettering technology and medicine. In order to work in the medical biochemistry environment, students typically need to get an advanced degree, such as a master's and doctorate. A lot of careers in this industry put an emphasis on research, so students need to have good reasoning and analytical skills. Typical environments students may find themselves in after graduation include laboratories, universities and government sectors.

Career Biology Technician Biochemist Postsecondary Biological Science Teacher
Education Requirements Bachelor's degree Doctoral or professional degree Doctoral degree
Other Requirements Laboratory experience Math and interpersonal skills Certification, registration or license required if teachers prepare students for an occupation
Job Growth (2014-24)* 5% 8% 13%
Mean Salary (2015)* $45,230 annually $93,390 annually $86,830 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Most careers in the medical biochemistry industry require a doctorate or some type of professional degree. These careers usually revolve around a laboratory setting. Below are descriptions and overviews of three career choices for medical biochemistry graduates.

Medical Biochemistry Technician

Technician positions are available in both research and clinical laboratories. Technicians in clinical labs can perform routine tests and sample analysis, then communicate the results to doctors. In research laboratories, they perform simple experiments and sample preparation. Lab technicians can also operate and maintain lab equipment and may manage lab inventory.

Medical biochemistry technician positions generally require a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Some employers accept an associate's degree or certificate when accompanied by a number of years of relevant work experience, but advancement past a certain level of responsibility in this field is generally not possible without a 4-year degree.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for biological technicians and medical and clinical laboratory technicians will increase 5% during the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2015, the BLS reported that biological technicians had a mean annual salary of $45,230.

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Medical Research Scientist

Jobs in clinical research can be found at hospitals and other medical institutions, public and private research institutions, commercial companies and medical schools. Careers in laboratory research are also available, and may be available through biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical facilities such as hospitals and private medical centers. Lab researchers at medical institutions can work directly with medical doctors who are running clinical research studies to develop new treatments.

Research scientist positions typically require either a master's degree or Ph.D. in a subject like biochemistry, chemistry, molecular biology or analytical chemistry. Independent research positions could require a Ph.D., several years' worth of experience in a postdoctoral position and a portfolio of published research. A job involving clinical work where scientists interact with patients in a medical capacity requires professionals to hold a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and a state license to practice medicine. Positions bridging the gap between research and clinical medicine may require both an M.D. and a Ph.D.

The BLS projects the fields of medical scientists and biochemists and biophysicists will grow by 8% over the 2014-2024 decade. In May 2014, the BLS reported that biochemists had a mean annual salary of $93,390.

Biochemistry Professor

Lab research and teaching jobs can also be found at universities and medical schools. University professors must balance their time between designing research, managing their lab and teaching. Senior professors often have other administrative duties as well, such as acting as academic deans or department heads, designing department curricula and sitting on academic committees.

Tenure-track faculty positions at 4-year universities usually require a Ph.D. and several years of postdoctoral research experience. Lecturer positions at 4-year universities and tenure-track positions at 2-year colleges may only require a master's degree. Faculty positions at medical schools usually require an M.D.

The BLS projects that jobs for postsecondary biological sciences teachers will increase by 13% over the 2014-2024 decade, which is about as fast as average. In May 2015, the BLS reported that the mean annual salary for postsecondary biological science teachers was $86,830.

Working in the field of medical biochemistry typically requires research skills, whether you are pursuing a career in a lab or academia. A master's degree or PhD are usual education requirements for this career field. A medical research scientist in this field may work directly with doctors in clinical research, while biochemistry professors could work at a university, or, more specifically, a medical school.

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