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How Do I Become a Biophysicist?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Education is the primary requirement when you want to become a biophysicist, a career that involves researching or teaching about biological systems and the behavior of the biophysical environment. You can land some jobs with a bachelor's degree, but a master's or doctoral degree in science is usually required, especially if you want a position with some independence and a higher degree of responsibility or if you hope to teach at a community college or university. You will also need a range of skills important to researching and sharing your findings, including problem-solving, organizational, computer, math, and communication skills.

You will typically need a post-secondary education in science to become a biophysicist. As an undergraduate, you could study such fields as biology, physics, or chemistry, or choose a double major in biology and physics to prepare for this job. No matter which major you choose, however, your preparation should include numerous classes in biology, physics, and chemistry as well as a significant number of courses in math and engineering. It is important to understand, however, that a bachelor's degree may only represent a start as you work toward a career in this field, as advanced education is usually required.

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After you earn a bachelor's degree in a science major, you will typically have to seek further education as part of your effort to become a biophysicist. Many employers will expect you to have a master's degree to qualify for research associate positions or to take on the title of staff scientist. If you are hoping for a job that has more responsibility, however, or that allows you to lead the way in research, you will likely need a doctoral degree instead.

Though most positions are given to those with graduate degrees, there are still some you can qualify for with a bachelor's degree. They are, however, typically those associated with less pay and responsibility, such as research technician jobs. You might also find an undergraduate degree suitable for work as a teacher in an elementary, junior high, or high school. If you want to teach at a university in this field, however, you will typically need a doctoral degree, though some community colleges may hire you to teach with a master's degree.

Besides a degree in science, you will typically need skills and qualities that help you perform well as a scientist to become a biophysicist. For example, you will generally need an analytical mind and problem-solving skills, and simple curiosity is likely to prove important as well. These skills are all critical for understanding scientific issues and seeking solutions. Organizational skills and attention to detail are also critical for science careers, and computer and math skills are important as well. Additionally, you will usually need written and oral communication skills to share your findings with others.

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