Biochemists define the chemical events that cause biological phenomena in organisms. They use what they learn in their research to develop and market agricultural, consumer, and medicinal products. Most biochemists conduct either basic or applied laboratory research. Some work in marketing and technical sales. Some may move into research and development management positions. A few pursue careers in law or science writing.
Universities, colleges, and medical or veterinary schools typically hire biochemists who spend part of their time as teachers, part as researchers. Agricultural and pharmaceutical industries hire biochemists to discover, develop, test, evaluate, and market products that improve food production or human or animal health. Biotechnology discovery firms also hire biochemists to use genetic engineering and molecular biology to help solve problems in health and food production.
Biochemists like to experiment and like to work in laboratories. They want to know how cells, organs, and organisms chemically communicate within and among themselves. They want to know how organisms grow, develop, regulate internal complex chemical events, and protect themselves. For an entry-level biochemistry position, you need a bachelor's degree in biochemistry. Your college courses will include biochemistry, chemistry (analytical, organic, and physical), biology, calculus, and physics. Round out your education with liberal arts courses. Most biochemists earn doctoral degrees, or medical or veterinary degrees.
In high school take at least four years of laboratory science (including biology, chemistry, and physics), four years of mathematics (at least through pre-calculus), and four years of English. It helps to learn about research through science fairs or independent study, and to make it a habit to read about science and scientists in magazines and books.
-- Karl G. Brandt, Purdue University