Polygence blog / Education and College Admissions

What Can You Do With a Biochemistry Degree?

8 minute read

As someone with a degree in both chemistry and biology, I understand the struggle of finding your career path in biochemistry. The study of biochemistry is a thrilling journey through the molecular mechanisms of life, offering a profound understanding of the building blocks of living organisms. However, with this broad knowledge base, it can take time to determine how to channel your passion and expertise into a fulfilling career. This article will explore various avenues and approaches individuals with a biochemistry degree can take to find a rewarding and exciting career path.

What are Career Trajectories for Someone with a Biochemistry Degree

1. Work in Biotech

The biotechnology industry is a hub of innovation trying to solve pressing health problems. Biochemists in biotech companies are involved in research and development, from creating new medicines and therapies to advancing biotechnological applications like cell and gene therapies. This field offers a dynamic environment that rewards creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Polygence research mentor Samuel conducts experiments to design new proteins for applications in medicine and biotechnology.

2. Lab Technician

As a lab technician with a biochemistry background, you have the molecular biology knowledge to have a hands-on role in experiments and research. This position is instrumental in conducting tests, analyzing data, and ensuring the smooth operation of laboratories. It's a great entry point for those who want to dive into the practical aspects of biochemistry.

3. Teaching and Education

Teaching offers a fulfilling career for those who have a passion for sharing knowledge. Educating and inspiring the next generation of biochemists can be immensely rewarding. You can teach at the high school level with an undergrad degree or attend graduate school to teach at the college or university level. No matter where you land, your expertise will shape future scientists, and you will be able to share your passion for biochemistry with future generations.

Polygence research mentor Preethy pursued a career in the education field and has been both a high school science teacher and principal.

4 Scientific Communications

If you excel at conveying complex scientific ideas in a digestible manner, a career in scientific communications may be a perfect fit. Opportunities in this field include writing and marketing roles in various settings such as museums, publications, biotech companies, or academic centers. You could focus on scientific journalism if you want to report on the cutting edge of science. This is an excellent fit for people who love communicating and working with diverse topics and groups of people.

5. Pharmaceutical Industry

A biochemistry degree can also open doors to the pharmaceutical sector. Working for pharmaceutical companies allows you to contribute to drug discovery and development, quality control, and regulatory affairs. You play a crucial role in ensuring that drugs are safe and effective for patients.

Polygence research mentor Andrew has experience working on medical drug delivery development.

6. Patient Expert

Individuals with biochemistry degrees who also hold law degrees may find their niche in advocating for patients and their rights. These experts bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and legal understanding and are invaluable in ensuring patient safety and well-being.

7. Regulatory Affairs (FDA)

Regulatory affairs specialists play a crucial role in ensuring that pharmaceutical therapies and medical devices meet safety and compliance standards. This role requires a deep understanding of both the science behind these products and the regulatory landscape. Some individuals pursue a law degree alongside their biochemistry background, creating an interesting intersection between innovation and legal protection.

Polygence research mentor Victoria is passionate about the role science can play in political decision-making and leads a science policy club when she’s not working in the lab.

8. Business Sector

Not all biochemistry graduates continue in a strictly scientific career path. Some opt to leverage their analytical and problem-solving skills to work up the business ladder in areas like project management, product development, or marketing within biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

What Do You Learn With a Biochemistry Degree?

While pursuing a biochemistry degree, students will study the biological processes (e.g., cell development, disease) of living things. In addition to taking foundational courses in biology and chemistry, you may also take advanced specialized courses (e.g., neurobiology, computational genomics). Biochemistry majors will spend a lot of time in the lab as part of their course curriculum. This requires the use of mathematical skills, teamwork, and scientific writing.

Pursuing Advanced Biochemistry Degrees

Some biochemists choose to continue their education before moving into the workforce.

Medical School

Many individuals with a biochemistry degree opt for the classic path of attending medical school. While becoming a medical doctor is the traditional outcome, diverse career options are available in addition to clinical work. You can specialize in medical communications, working with astronauts on their health in space, or even delve into public policy, health policy, science literacy, environmentalism, and regulatory affairs. The opportunities for those passionate about medicine are nearly endless!

Graduate School

Pursuing an advanced degree is a common path for biochemistry graduates. You can specialize further by enrolling in graduate programs in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, or a specific niche like immunology or cancer biology. Graduate school provides an opportunity to gain more research experience, which can prime you for an academic career and various other roles that require or benefit from a Ph.D. This path can lead to groundbreaking discoveries and contributions to your chosen field of expertise.

How Can High School Students Can Explore the Versatility of a Biochemistry Degree?

The world is your oyster when you hold a biochemistry degree. It's a field that continues to evolve, presenting new challenges and opportunities with each discovery and breakthrough. If you're a student considering a biochemistry degree and want to explore your options before committing fully, consider seeking mentorship programs or internships to understand your potential career paths better.

Polygence’s month-long Pathfinders program is your opportunity to do exactly that. With Pathfinders, you will meet one-on-one with three research mentors who have expertise in fields you are interested in learning more about.

The Polygence Pathfinders Program

Pathfinders is a career discovery mentorship experience designed to help you explore different career paths and gain more clarity about your future. Learn from three world class mentors in the fields of your choice and discover your passions!

Polygence is also an excellent place to explore the biochemistry space by completing your own research or passion project with mentor support and guidance.

Work with an expert mentor to explore your passion

At Polygence, we precisely match you with a mentor in your area of interest. Together, you can explore and deepen your passions.

Examples of projects within biochemistry that Polygence alumni have completed include:

While you’re in high school, definitely take advantage of the science and math courses available to you so you can solidify your understanding of key concepts before taking college courses for your biochemistry degree.

How Can You Start Your Journey Toward Earning a Degree in Biochemistry?

If any of the projects or potential career pathways we've discussed so far have ignited your interest, it's a strong indicator that biochemistry could be a wonderful fit for you. The broad and dynamic nature of this field offers a myriad of avenues to pursue, and your passion can be a driving force for a successful and fulfilling career.

However, it's perfectly okay if none of these pathways align with your current passions or aspirations. This is the beauty of the biochemistry field. There is abundant uncharted territory and exciting developments constantly emerging, making biochemistry an excellent choice for those who are still exploring their options or have an evolving sense of purpose. As novel technologies and techniques emerge, the biochemistry world evolves alongside them. The boundaries of what's possible in this field constantly evolve, opening the door to a world of new possibilities. Whether it's the development of precision medicine, the exploration of the human microbiome, or the integration of artificial intelligence into biochemical research, there is no shortage of exciting developments to look forward to. 

In conclusion, a biochemistry degree is a gateway to a world of opportunities. It equips you with a deep understanding of the molecular intricacies of life and offers numerous paths to follow. No matter what you choose—whether it's conducting groundbreaking research, advancing pharmaceutical development, educating the next generation of scientists, or influencing public policy—biochemistry provides a rich tapestry of career possibilities.

With the right guidance and determination, your biochemistry degree can be the key to a fulfilling and impactful career that makes a difference in the world. 

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