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Summary Report for:
19-1021.00 - Biochemists and Biophysicists

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.

Sample of reported job titles: Analytical Research Chemist, Chief Scientific Officer, Director of the Biophysics Facility, Laboratory Director, Professor of Physics/Researcher in Biophysics, Research Assistant, Research Associate, Research Scientist, Scientist

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles or by making presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Prepare reports or recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Teach or advise undergraduate or graduate students or supervise their research.
  • Manage laboratory teams or monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Isolate, analyze, or synthesize vitamins, hormones, allergens, minerals, or enzymes and determine their effects on body functions.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
  • Study the mutations in organisms that lead to cancer or other diseases.
  • Study the chemistry of living processes, such as cell development, breathing and digestion, or living energy changes, such as growth, aging, or death.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

Benchtop centrifuges — Continuous flow centrifuges; Cytospin centrifuges; Megafuge centrifuges; Tabletop centrifuges
Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters; Isothermal titration calorimeters ITC; Microcalorimeters
Lasers — Argon lasers; Neodymium-doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet Nd:YAG lasers; Sapphire lasers; Solid state diode lasers
Light scattering equipment — Laser Doppler zeta potential analyzers; Laser particle sizers; Light scattering devices; Multi-angle elastic-light scattering systems
Spectrometers — Circular dichroism spectroscopes; Laser induced temperature jump nanosecond relaxation spectrometer systems; Mossbauer spectroscopes; Raman difference spectrometers

Technology used in this occupation:

Analytical or scientific software — Accelrys QAUNTA; Fujitsu BioMedCache; Wavefunction Titan; Yet another scientific artificial reality application YASARA software
Computer aided design CAD software — Accelrys Insight II; ChemInnovation Software Chem 4-D
Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop software; GE Healthcare ImageQuant TL; Molecular Devices Corporation MetaFluor; Molecular Simulations WebLab ViewerPro
Object or component oriented development software — Practical extraction and reporting language Perl; Python
Word processing software — Microsoft Word

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Knowledge

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.
Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
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.
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.
Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

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Skills

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.
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.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.

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Abilities

Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

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Work Activities

Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

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Work Context

Electronic Mail — 95% responded “Every day.”
Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 95% responded “Every day.”
Duration of Typical Work Week — 91% responded “More than 40 hours.”
Face-to-Face Discussions — 68% responded “Every day.”
Structured versus Unstructured Work — 62% responded “A lot of freedom.”
Freedom to Make Decisions — 68% responded “A lot of freedom.”
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 59% responded “Extremely important.”
Level of Competition — 41% responded “Extremely competitive.”
Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 41% responded “Every day.”
Work With Work Group or Team — 36% responded “Extremely important.”

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Five: Extensive Preparation Needed
Education 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).
Related Experience Extensive skill, knowledge, and experience are needed for these occupations. Many require more than five years of experience. For example, surgeons must complete four years of college and an additional five to seven years of specialized medical training to be able to do their job.
Job Training Employees may need some on-the-job training, but most of these occupations assume that the person will already have the required skills, knowledge, work-related experience, and/or training.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve coordinating, training, supervising, or managing the activities of others to accomplish goals. Very advanced communication and organizational skills are required. Examples include librarians, lawyers, sports medicine physicians, wildlife biologists, school psychologists, surgeons, treasurers, and controllers.
SVP Range (8.0 and above)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
41   Doctoral degree
32   Post-doctoral training
18   Bachelor's degree

This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:

Chemistry — Soil Chemistry and Physics
Life Sciences — Biochemistry; Biophysics; Cell/Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences; Cell/Cellular Biology and Anatomical Sciences, Other; Soil Sciences
Physics/Astronomy — Soil Chemistry and Physics

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Credentials

Find Training Find Certifications Find Licenses

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Interests

Interest code: IAR

Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
Artistic — Artistic occupations frequently involve working with forms, designs and patterns. They often require self-expression and the work can be done without following a clear set of rules.
Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

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Work Styles

Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

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Work Values

Recognition — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.
Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Related Occupations

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25-1052.00 Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2013) $40.54 hourly, $84,320 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 29,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Faster than average (15% to 21%) Faster than average (15% to 21%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 13,700
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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