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How Do I Become a Biochemist?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2016
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A person interested in both the study of biology and chemistry may want to become a biochemist, or a scientist who studies what composes living things. A solid education in the sciences is required for this career, starting as early as the high school years and continuing through the undergraduate years. Depending on the level a person seeks to reach as a biochemist, she may continue her education through the master's degree level or even as far as the doctoral level, especially if she wants to work in a laboratory or teach at the college level.

In high school, a person who wants to become a biochemist should excel in mathematics and science. In general, she should take as many advanced or honors courses in those subjects as she can. Other subjects are also important, such as English and foreign languages. In addition, she should participate in extracurricular activities, such as a science club, school science fairs, and other science-related events, if they are available to her.

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In college, some schools offer students the opportunity to major in biochemistry. Other schools allow students to select courses in the fields of biology and chemistry, permitting them to create their own course of study. In general, a student who wants to become a biochemist will take classes in subjects such as cellular biology, molecular biology, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and virology. Many colleges and universities will let undergraduate students participate in research projects related to biochemistry as well.

After college, a person who wants to become a biochemist in a laboratory setting will typically continue on to receive a master's degree. Typically, a master's degree can be obtained in two years or less. In most cases, students studying for their master's in biochemistry will take classes in subjects such as advanced biochemistry, advanced biotechnology, and immunobiology.

For people who want to teach biochemistry at a university level or participate in research at a college or university, a doctorate in biochemistry may be required. It usually takes another four years to finish the requirements for the degree, which often include classes, seminars, dissertations, or laboratory projects. Sometimes the doctoral work will be in specialized topics of biochemistry, such as topics related to cancer or nutrition.

Jobs for biochemists will typically be focused around colleges or universities, such as research positions or teaching positions. Some private firms and non-profit organizations may also hire biochemists. In addition, some government agencies have a need for biochemists.

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