What can I do with a degree in Biochemistry?

Biochemistry photo

Biochemistry brings together a number of branches of science to understand the chemistry of life. It provides basic insight into biological processes such as enzyme action, drug action, genetic engineering, photosynthesis and colour vision. Biochemical innovation is critical in adding value to New Zealand's agricultural production, as well as in understanding the fundamentals of the biological world around us. Biochemistry graduates are sought after all over the world.

Through their Biochemistry degree, graduates gain a valuable set of transferable skills such as:

  • Analytical and problem solving
  • Good planning and organisation
  • Oral and written communication
  • Teamwork and leadership
  • Capacity to think creatively, logically and quantitatively
  • Mathematical and computer competencies
  • Observation, research and development abilities.

Applied learning opportunities are available such as laboratory sessions, and fieldtrips. These experiences deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Biochemists are found working in a number of different industries. Recent UC graduates were employed in:

  • Pharmaceuticals industry eg, Baxter Healthcare
  • Government bodies eg, Rotorua District Council
  • Diagnostic departments in hospitals eg, Canterbury District Health Board
  • Crown Research Institutes eg, Plant and Food Research, Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Landcare Research
  • Laboratories eg, Canterbury Health Laboratories
  • Food and beverage producers eg, Deep South Ice Cream, Goodman Fielder
  • Manufacturing and processing companies eg, Izon Science Ltd
  • Biotechnology organisations
  • Agribusiness eg, Livestock Improvement Corp, Ballance Agri-Nutrients
  • Software companies eg, Jade Software Corporation
  • Water management eg, Hydroxsys Ltd
  • Health and beauty care organisations
  • Engineering consultancies eg, Aurecon
  • Secondary schools teaching biology, chemistry and other science subjects
  • Tertiary sector eg, Lincoln University, Ara Institute of Canterbury, Otago School of Medicine, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Their own company or self-employed as a consultant eg, Ethique

Graduates with this degree are employed in a range of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Biochemist

  • Studies the composition of all living things
  • Develops and tests new pharmaceutical products
  • Studies how disease or vaccines interact

Research scientist, researcher, research and development assistant

  • Undertakes experimental lab work and develops scientific solutions to problems
  • Carries out field and lab tests, records data
  • Conducts analysis and writes technical reports
  • Communicates results/impacts to various audiences such as policymakers and the public

Manufacturing scientist, product formulation specialist

  • Researches a client’s brief, a social need, or a gap in the market
  • Designs and develops prototype sample
  • Commercialisation through trials, industry submissions and production runs
  • Complies with quality standards/regulations

Laboratory / field technician

  • Plans and carries out research experiments
  • Maintains and calibrates equipment
  • Liaises with scientists and industry personnel
  • Collects and collates data, and drafts reports

Data analyst, bioinformatician

  • Analyses data and models techniques to solve problems
  • Gains insight for decision-making purposes

Biotechnology technician

  • Tests micro-organisms and monitors data
  • Develops and tests methods
  • Assists with developing new products

Medical laboratory technician

  • Carries out tests on samples eg, blood, tissue
  • Communicates results to patients and/or medical professionals

Pharmacy technician

  • Receives, issues and keeps records of prescriptions
  • Helps pharmacists prepare and give medicines
  • Maintains stock and helps run the pharmacy

Secondary school teacher

  • Plans and delivers instructional lessons
  • Evaluates performance and provides feedback
  • Sets and marks assignments and tests

Science journalist, technical writer

  • Researches specialist scientific publications
  • Interviews scientists, medical staff, academics
  • Writes and edits scientific articles, journals, organisational documents eg, reports, manuals

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up
  • Offers their services as a consultant

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others.

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

Learn from our students' experiences

For more information

see the Biochemistry subject page