Job Description:

Biochemists investigate the chemical processes that take place inside all living things, from viruses and bacteria to people.

Job Category:

What you will do:

Your role and tasks will vary by industry.

In the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, your work will include:

  • developing new products
  • monitoring production
  • quality control
  • checking the safety of existing products

In a hospital, public health laboratory or research institute, your work will include:

  • carrying out tests on blood
  • researching the causes of disease
  • exploring new methods of treatment

In agriculture and the environment, your work will include:

  • genetically engineering plants to create pest-resistant crops
  • improving the quantity of crops
  • developing and extending the shelf life of produce
  • monitoring the effects of pollution on the environment

As a biochemist in education, you could work in universities, colleges and schools, or medical, veterinary or dental schools.


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of biology
  • knowledge of chemistry including the safe use and disposal of chemicals
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a biochemist, you typically need to have a strong foundation in science and mathematics. While there are no specific GCSE subjects that are absolutely required, certain subjects are highly recommended to prepare you for the academic path and prerequisites needed for a degree in biochemistry or a related field. Here are the GCSE subjects that can be beneficial:

  1. Biology: This is often the most important subject as it directly relates to the field of biochemistry. A strong understanding of biology will be essential for your future studies.
  2. Chemistry: Chemistry is fundamental to biochemistry, and a good grounding in this subject will be essential for understanding chemical processes at the molecular level.
  3. Mathematics: Mathematics is another crucial subject, particularly for dealing with data analysis and complex mathematical concepts in biochemistry. Consider taking at least GCSE-level mathematics, if not higher-level courses.
  4. Physics: While not as directly related as biology and chemistry, physics can provide a strong foundation in scientific principles and analytical thinking, which can be valuable in biochemistry.
  5. English Language: Strong communication skills are important in any scientific field, including biochemistry. English language skills will help you with writing reports, research papers, and communicating your findings effectively.
  6. Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science: Bioinformatics and computational biology are growing fields within biochemistry. Knowledge of IT or computer science can be very advantageous.
  7. Additional Sciences: If available and of interest, consider taking additional science subjects like environmental science or human physiology, as they can broaden your understanding of biological processes.

Post School

You’ll usually need a science degree. For jobs in industry or research, you will also need a postgraduate qualification (MSc or PhD).

Relevant first or higher degree subjects include:

  • biochemistry
  • biological science
  • biotechnology
  • biopharmaceuticals
  • cell and molecular biology
  • chemical and molecular biology
  • microbiology genetics
  • molecular biology

In the UK NHS, you can train by following the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP).

Working Hours and Environment:

You’ll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. You may work shifts, and during busy periods may work longer hours.

You’ll usually work in a laboratory. In the manufacturing industry, you’ll also spend time in production areas. You’ll wear protective clothing like a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could become a team leader or manager, running a department, or move into research, sales and marketing, or scientific journalism.