5 Career Paths in Biochemistry

Are you fascinated with the world of biochemistry but aren’t quite sure what career options are out there for you? Perhaps you are already considering a degree in Biochemistry but don’t know if it’s the right choice for you.

Contrary to popular belief, biochemists do much more for our society than sit in a lab and mix chemicals. Similarly, you can do much more than you might think with a degree in Biochemistry. Let’s examine five specific disciplines that Mr. Tim Meier, Associate Professor of Maranatha’s Applied Science Department, suggests as possible career opportunities in the field of biochemistry. These disciplines are as follows: medical school, law enforcement/forensic science, pharmaceutical research, pharmacy school, and medical/scientific writing—any of which you can pursue with a Biochemistry degree from Maranatha!

Medical School

When I asked Mr. Meier what career paths he typically sees Biochemistry majors at Maranatha pursuing, the first thing he said was “Med School.” While most medical schools typically don’t require a specific major as a prerequisite, they often require you to have completed courses such as biology, chemistry, math, and physics. They also require you to pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to be accepted. A degree in Biochemistry will help you complete many of these courses, while also giving you a broad understanding of much of the material tested on the MCAT. In fact, according to Kaplan MCAT Test Prep, “Biochemistry has gotten a lot more attention since receiving an increased emphasis on the MCAT. Some schools make it a prerequisite, while others simply assume you have the knowledge if you studied for the MCAT” (par. 6). Please understand that simply getting a degree in Biochemistry will not guarantee your exceptional score on the MCAT or your acceptance into medical school. However, it will give you the understanding most medical schools require you to have and provide you with a solid foundation for a future career in medicine.

Law Enforcement/Forensic Science

Do you love science and justice? Well, do we have some news for you! A Biochemistry degree would be great preparation if you’re considering entering the science-y side of law enforcement. Mr. Meier says, “I had a student that took Biochemistry and then did criminal justice—they wanted to [work in] a forensics lab. When I was young, I would have done that. That would have been fascinating! But I didn’t know it was a possibility.” A lot of biochemistry deals with “understand[ing] the different biochemical pathways” in living organisms, Meier says, a discipline that is crucial for the Forensic Science scene. For those of you who may not be as gung-ho on crime-fighting, however, he also mentions the field of patent law, having known biochemists that would “go off to law school and then file patents on the molecules for companies,” giving those companies rights to various scientific discoveries or inventions. If you’re interested in both science and law enforcement, a Biochemistry degree could be the perfect fit for you. You might even consider pairing it with the Criminal Justice associate degree/minor MBU offers. What cooler way to uphold the law and justice than with science?

Pharmaceutical Research

“Drug discovery, of course, is a big one,” Mr. Meier says as a common career path in biochemistry. Having specialized in pharmaceutical research himself before he came to Maranatha, he mentions the benefits of being a biochemist in that area: “Pharmaceutical companies routinely rearrange and shut down programs and start up new programs, [but] they always kept me because I was a biochemist—I could move to any of these [other] areas, and my skills would fit in.” Studying biochemistry equips scientists with a broad knowledge of many scientific areas. Biochemists, then, are often valued for their versatility and can be transferred from program to program. In such a discipline, however, it is important that you know how to learn and adapt to the different materials you are dealing with. This is why Mr. Meier puts such an emphasis on “teaching [students] how to learn” in his science classes. He recalls how “Science is constantly changing. [Because] we’re learning new things, every project I did was an extension or application in a new area, so I would have to go in and get myself immersed in that new area fairly quickly and then be able to apply it.” While pursuing your degree in Biochemistry, you will not only learn the fundamental “language” of science but also how to apply that language to the various disciplines you might find yourself in.

Pharmacy School

While Maranatha does offer a Biology: Pre-Pharmacy Program, a Biochemistry degree covers much of the same prerequisite material if you are considering pharmacy school. Mr. Meier says that it is important for pharmacists to have a strong grasp of biochemistry as they fill orders that influence enzyme or biochemical pathways. Students planning to pursue pharmacy school should also have a foundational knowledge of biochemistry as they will need to learn the concepts faster at the advanced level.  A Biochemistry degree will provide you with a strong foundation in these concepts, giving you an extra advantage when you reach pharmacy school.

Medical/Scientific Writing

If you enjoy writing and science, a career in medical/scientific writing might be just for you! Mr. Meier talks about how, in such a discipline, writers gather and publish scientific data on both the medical and news media levels. On the medical level, writers publish scientific data in terms physicians can understand and apply it. On the news media level, writers publish the same data in simpler terms than they would for doctors to better inform the general public of new developments in the scientific arena.

All in all, biochemistry is so much more than the stereotypical mixing of chemicals and running tests in a lab. Mr. Meier emphasizes studying biochemistry so we can more easily identify what is “broken” or “diseased” in our world and how we can best go about fixing it. The career paths mentioned above are only a few among the many you can pursue with a Biochemistry degree (just a few more include biostatistics {if you like science and computers}, running clinical labs, biofuel engineering, water testing—and so many more!) However, if you still need help deciding if a Biochemistry degree is right for you, Mr. Meier recommends shadowing opportunities at various scientific organizations, career exploration programs, and even talking with himself on a visit to MBU!

Science is a magnificent tool that God has given us to exercise dominion over his Creation, as well as to help the people around us in the process. If you have a passion for science and feel that God is leading you toward such a discipline, apply today, and come and explore a Biochemistry degree at Maranatha!