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
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- 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.
- Investigate the nature, composition, or expression of genes or research how genetic engineering can impact these processes.
- Design or perform experiments with equipment such as lasers, accelerators, or mass spectrometers.
- Study spatial configurations of submicroscopic molecules, such as proteins, using x-rays or electron microscopes.
- Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.
- Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.
- Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.
- Examine the molecular or chemical aspects of immune system functioning.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Amino acid analyzers
- Analytical balances — Mettler balances
- Benchtop centrifuges — Continuous flow centrifuges; Cytospin centrifuges; Megafuge centrifuges; Tabletop centrifuges
- Binocular light compound microscopes — Large upright microscopes; Transillumination microscopes; Video enhanced differential interference contrast microscopes
- Calorimeters — Differential scanning calorimeters; Isothermal titration calorimeters ITC; Microcalorimeters
- Camera controllers — Video positioning equipment
- Chemistry analyzers — Hemoglobin analyzers
- Chilling units or cold water circulators — Circulating water cooling systems
- Cryogenic or liquid nitrogen freezers — Biofreezers; Cryogenic freezers
- Deoxyribonucleic sequence analyzers — Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA sequencers
- Desktop computers
- Digital camcorders or video cameras — Phosphorimager video cameras
- Dropping pipettes — Pipettes
- Dry baths or heating blocks — Heat blocks
- Dry wall single chamber carbon dioxide incubators — Carbon dioxide CO2 incubators
- Electroencephalograph EEG or accessories — Electroencephalography EEG equipment
- Electron guns — Phosphorimagers
- Electron microscopes — Cryomicroscopes; X ray microscopes
- Electronic toploading balances — Sartorius balances; Top-loading electronic balances
- Electrophoresis system power supplies — Electrophoresis power supplies
- Flame ionization analyzers — Flame ionization detectors FID
- Forced air or mechanical convection general purpose incubators — Heat incubators; Incubators
- Freeze dryers or lyopholizers — Flexi-dry lyophilizers; Freeze dryers; Vacuum freezers
- Fume hoods or cupboards — Chemical fume hoods
- Gamma counters — Auto gamma counters
- Gas chromatographs — Gas chromatographs GC
- Gel boxes
- Gel documentation systems — Automated electrophoresis equipment
- Heat tracing equipment — Thermal imagers
- Heating mantles or tapes — Heating mantles
- Hematology or chemistry mixers — Peptide synthesizers
- High pressure liquid chromatograph chromatography — High-pressure liquid chromatographs
- Infrared spectrometers — Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectroscopes
- Injectors — Microinjectors
- Instrumentation for capillary electrophoresis — Capillary electrophoresis equipment
- Inverted microscopes
- Ion analyzers — Ionometers
- Irradiation gamma sources — Gamma ray irradiators
- Laboratory adapters or connectors or fittings — Glassware adaptors
- Laboratory balances — Balances; Specific gravity balances
- Laboratory beakers — Beakers
- Laboratory flasks — Erlenmeyer flasks
- Laboratory funnels — Filtering funnels; Funnels
- Laboratory graduated cylinders — Graduated cylinders
- Laboratory heat exchange condensers — Glassware condensers
- Laboratory hotplates — Hot plates
- Laboratory mechanical convection ovens — Laboratory convection ovens
- Laboratory vacuum pumps
- Laminar flow cabinets or stations — Laminar flow hoods
- Laser printers
- Lasers — Argon lasers; Laser tweezers; Sapphire lasers; Solid state diode lasers (see all 6 examples)
- Light scattering equipment — Laser Doppler zeta potential analyzers; Laser particle sizers; Light scattering devices; Multi-angle elastic-light scattering systems
- Liquid scintillation counters — Scintillation counters
- Mainframe computers
- Manual or electronic hematology differential cell counters — Cell sorters
- Mass spectrometers — Multichannel detectors
- Medical computed tomography CT or CAT scanners or tubes — Computerized axial tomography CAT scan equipment
- Medical imaging wet darkroom or daylight processors — Automatic x ray film developers
- Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI scanners — Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI equipment; Medical magnetic resonance imaging MRI microscopes
- Medical positron emission tomography PET units — Positron emission tomography PET scanners
- Medical x ray darkroom equipment or supplies — Darkroom equipment
- Microbiology analyzers — Flow cytometers
- Microplate readers
- Microscope slides
- Microtomes — Cryocut microtomes; Cryostat tissue microtomes; Ultramicrotomes
- Mobile or transportable medical linear accelerators — Linear accelerators
- Multipurpose or general test tubes — Test tubes
- Notebook computers
- Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectrometers — Liquid nuclear magnetic resonance NMR equipment; Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectroscopes; Solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance NMR equipment
- Optical beamsplitters — Dichroic beamsplitters
- Orbital shakers
- Orbital shaking water baths — Shaking waterbaths
- Osmometers — Basic vapor pressure osmometers
- Paramagnetic susceptibility analyzers — Microsusceptometers
- Pasteur or transfer pipettes — Pasteur pipettes
- Personal computers
- pH meters — Microphysiometers
- Photo attachments for microscopes — Charge-coupled device CCD cameras
- Piezo electric crystals — Magnetic piconewton-force transducers
- Plotter printers — Plotters
- Polarimeters — Spectropolarimeters
- Polarizing microscopes — Brewster angle microscopes
- Pressure indicators — Langmuir balances
- Protein analyzers — Protein sequencers
- Radiobiological effect microdosimeters — Microdosimeters
- Reactors or fermenters or digesters — High-pressure high-temperature reactors
- Refrigerated and heated reach in environmental or growth chambers — Growth chambers
- Refrigerated benchtop centrifuges — Refrigerated centrifuges
- Robotic or automated liquid handling systems — Automatic pipetters; Liquid handling robots
- Safety hoods — Biological safety hoods
- Scanning electron microscopes — Scanning electron microscopes SEM
- Scanning light or spinning disk or laser scanning microscopes — Confocal microscopes; Near-field light microscopes; Scanning laser microscopes
- Scanning probe microscopes — Atomic force microscopes; Nanoscopes
- Shaking incubators
- Signal conditioners — Power amplifiers
- Signal generators
- Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters — Fluorescence spectroscopes; Spectrofluorimeters; Ultraviolet UV spectroscopes
- Spectrometers — Circular dichroism spectroscopes; Laser induced temperature jump nanosecond relaxation spectrometer systems; Mossbauer spectroscopes; Raman difference spectrometers (see all 7 examples)
- Spectrophotometers — Stopped-flow spectrophotometers
- Standard fermentation units — Fermenters
- Steam autoclaves or sterilizers — Autoclaves
- Tissue processors — Vibratome tissue sectioning systems
- Transilluminators — Ultraviolet UV transilluminators
- Transmission electron microscopes — Cryotransmission electron microscopes; Transmission electron microscopes TEM
- Tweezers — Magnetic tweezers; Optical tweezers
- Ultra violet water purification units — Water purification units
- Ultracentrifuges — Analytical ultracentrifuges
- Ultrasonic cleaning equipment — Ultrasonic cleaners
- Ultrasonic disintegrators — Sonicators
- Vacuum or centrifugal concentrators — Sample concentrators
- Viscosimeters — Viscometers
- Water baths
- X ray diffraction equipment — X ray crystallography equipment
- X ray generators — Rotating anode X ray generators; Synchrotrons
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Accelrys QAUNTA; Fujitsu BioMedCache; Wavefunction Titan; Yet another scientific artificial reality application YASARA software (see all 41 examples)
- Charting software — Microsoft Office Visio
- Computer aided design CAD software — Accelrys Insight II; ChemInnovation Software Chem 4-D
- Data base user interface and query software — eNotebook software; Sequence database software
- Data mining software — Golden Helix ChemTree; Golden Helix HelixTree
- Electronic mail software — Email software
- Enterprise application integration software — Extensible markup language XML
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software — SAP software
- Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe Photoshop software; GE Healthcare ImageQuant TL; Molecular Devices Corporation MetaFluor; Molecular Simulations WebLab ViewerPro (see all 11 examples)
- Information retrieval or search software — Molecular Networks GmbH Biochemical Pathways
- Internet browser software
- Inventory management software — ItemTracker software
- Object or component oriented development software — Practical extraction and reporting language Perl; Python
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office software
- Operating system software — Linux
- Presentation software — Microsoft PowerPoint
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
- 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.
- 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.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- 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).
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
- 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.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Detailed Work Activities
- Research microbiological or chemical processes or structures.
- Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.
- Research diseases or parasites.
- Research genetic characteristics or expression.
- Supervise scientific or technical personnel.
- Instruct college students in physical or life sciences.
- Analyze biological samples.
- Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.
- Research methods to improve food products.
- Develop new or advanced products or production methods.
- Develop biological research methods.
- 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.”
- Telephone — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Contact With Others — 50% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 62% responded “High responsibility.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 50% responded “More than half the time.”
- Letters and Memos — 36% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 24% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 50% responded “Important results.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 41% responded “More than half the time.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 52% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
|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)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
This occupation may require a background in the following science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) educational disciplines:
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.
- 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.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- 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.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2014)||$40.84 hourly, $84,940 annual|
|Employment (2012)||29,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2012-2022)||Faster than average (15% to 21%)|
|Projected job openings (2012-2022)||13,700|
|Top industries (2012)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data and 2012-2022 employment projections . "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.
Job Openings on the Web
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.
- Biochemists and Biophysicists . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.