Biochemists and Biophysicists
19-1021.00

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, Biochemist, Biophysics Researcher, Scientist

Occupation-Specific Information

Tasks

  • Share research findings by writing scientific articles or by making presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Teach or advise undergraduate or graduate students or supervise their research.
  • Study physical principles of living cells or organisms and their electrical or mechanical energy, applying methods and knowledge of mathematics, physics, chemistry, or biology.
  • Manage laboratory teams or monitor the quality of a team's work.
  • Develop new methods to study the mechanisms of biological processes.
  • Write grant proposals to obtain funding for research.
  • Design or perform experiments with equipment, such as lasers, accelerators, or mass spectrometers.
  • Determine the three-dimensional structure of biological macromolecules.
  • Design or build laboratory equipment needed for special research projects.
  • Prepare reports or recommendations, based upon research outcomes.
  • Study spatial configurations of submicroscopic molecules, such as proteins, using x-rays or electron microscopes.
  • Study the chemistry of living processes, such as cell development, breathing and digestion, or living energy changes, such as growth, aging, or death.
  • Study the mutations in organisms that lead to cancer or other diseases.
  • Research the chemical effects of substances, such as drugs, serums, hormones, or food, on tissues or vital processes.
  • Research transformations of substances in cells, using atomic isotopes.
  • Develop or execute tests to detect diseases, genetic disorders, or other abnormalities.
  • Develop or test new drugs or medications intended for commercial distribution.
  • Isolate, analyze, or synthesize vitamins, hormones, allergens, minerals, or enzymes and determine their effects on body functions.
  • Examine the molecular or chemical aspects of immune system functioning.
  • Research how characteristics of plants or animals are carried through successive generations.
  • Prepare pharmaceutical compounds for commercial distribution.
  • Develop methods to process, store, or use foods, drugs, or chemical compounds.
  • Investigate the nature, composition, or expression of genes or research how genetic engineering can impact these processes.
  • Produce pharmaceutically or industrially useful proteins, using recombinant DNA technology.

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Technology Skills

Hot technology Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.

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Occupational Requirements

Work Activities

  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • 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.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Working with Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • 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.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
  • 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.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • 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.
  • Communicating with People Outside the 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.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.
  • Providing Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Performing Administrative Activities — Performing day-to-day administrative tasks such as maintaining information files and processing paperwork.
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.

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Detailed Work Activities

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Work Context

  • Electronic Mail — 85% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 75% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 85% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 83% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 55% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 50% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 53% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 53% responded “Every day.”
  • Level of Competition — 53% responded “Highly competitive.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 30% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Contact With Others — 45% responded “Contact with others most of the time.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 55% responded “Important results.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 47% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 32% responded “Very important.”
  • Letters and Memos — 39% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 35% responded “About half the time.”
  • Consequence of Error — 26% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 42% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Time Pressure — 50% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 47% responded “Important.”
  • Physical Proximity — 47% responded “Slightly close (e.g., shared office).”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”

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Experience Requirements

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 pharmacists, lawyers, astronomers, biologists, clergy, neurologists, and veterinarians.
SVP Range
Over 4 years of preparation (8.0 and above)

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Training & Credentials

State training
Local training
Certifications
State licenses
Apprenticeships
Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov external site to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.

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Worker Requirements

Skills

  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • 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.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • 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.

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Knowledge

  • Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • 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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Education

How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:

  • 40%
     
    responded: Post-doctoral training required
  • 25%
     
    responded: Bachelor’s degree required
  • 25%
     
    responded: Doctoral degree requiredmore info

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Worker Characteristics

Abilities

  • 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.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • 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.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • 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).
  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • 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 that there is a problem.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • 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.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Memorization — The ability to remember information such as words, numbers, pictures, and procedures.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.

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Interests

Interest code: IAR
Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
  • 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 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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Work Styles

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • 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.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

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Workforce Characteristics

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2021)
$49.17 hourly, $102,270 annual
State wages
Local wages
Employment (2020)
34,800 employees
Projected growth (2020-2030)
Slower than average (1% to 5%)
Projected job openings (2020-2030)
3,200
State trends
Top industries (2020)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 wage data external site and 2020-2030 employment projections external site . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

State job openings
Local job openings

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More Information

Related Occupations

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