Biochemist Kairarau Matū Koiora

Biochemists study the chemical structure and function of animals, plants and micro-organisms such as bacteria and viruses. They use this research to develop medical, industrial and agricultural products.

Biochemists may do some or all of the following:

  • study the chemical make-up of living things including genes, proteins and molecules
  • study chemical processes such as digestion and growth
  • study the effects of foreign bodies, such as diseases or vaccines, on living things
  • develop and test new products such as medicines or ingredients
  • write scientific reports and papers for journals
  • manage laboratory teams.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for biochemists includes:

  • work with medicines or chemicals
  • work as a science technician or medical laboratory technician
  • other laboratory work
  • experience writing reports.

Personal Qualities

Biochemists need to be:

  • investigative and enquiring
  • self-motivated
  • observant
  • creative and innovative
  • patient and detail-oriented
  • good at problem solving
  • good at planning and organisation
  • good at writing and communicating.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for biochemists includes:

  • work with medicines or chemicals
  • work as a science technician or medical laboratory technician
  • other laboratory work
  • experience writing reports.

Subject Recommendations

A tertiary entrance qualification is required to enter further training. NCEA Level 3 in maths, chemistry, physics and biology are recommended.

Biochemists can earn around $35K-$75K per year per year.

Biochemists usually enter the job as technicians or assistants during university or after graduating.

As they gain lab and computer skills, they may progress to senior positions, or they may undertake postgraduate study to specialise in a particular research area. 

Biochemists with PhDs may become project leaders, seeking funding for projects and managing people, processes and resources.

Biochemists may also move into related roles such as:

  • biotechnologist
  • food technologist
  • medical salesperson
  • teacher or professor.
Biochemist