Career outlook for biochemist

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would research the chemistry of living cells to learn more about diseases or develop new drugs, medicines and crops.

Using scientific equipment and techniques you’d do tasks like examining samples under a microscope.

You could work in several different areas.

In a hospital, public health laboratory or research institute, you would:

  • Test blood and other bodily fluids
  • Research the causes of disease
  • Explore new methods of treatment

If you worked in the pharmaceutical, food or brewing industries, you would:

  • Develop new products
  • Check the production process and do quality control
  • Check the safety of existing products

In agriculture and the environment, you could work with water authorities, seed companies or local and central government.

You would:

  • Do genetic engineering to create pest-resistant crops
  • Improve the quantity of crops
  • Work out how to make products in shops last longer
  • Monitor the effects of pollution on the environment

You might also teach and do research in universities, colleges and schools, or medical, veterinary or dental schools.

Working conditions


You would normally work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. For some jobs you may need to work shifts, and during busy periods you may work longer hours. Part-time work is also available.


Your work would mainly take place in a laboratory. In the manufacturing industry, you would also spend some of your time in production areas. You would be expected to wear protective clothing such as a laboratory coat and safety glasses.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Working with technology
  • Innovative
  • Problem solving
  • Observation
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Sorting
  • Taking initiative
  • Analysing
  • Understanding

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


You will usually need a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in a subject such as biochemistry, biological science or biotechnologies. Many people who do this job also have postgraduate qualifications such as a Master of Science (MSc) (SCQF level 11) or a doctoral degree (SCQF level 12) in a relevant subject.

Most undergraduate courses ask for National 5 qualifications and at least four Highers at B or above (SCQF level 6). Some universities require AABB (first sitting) for entry.

The University of Dundee offers a BSc Life Sciences course which only requires two Highers at B including Biology or Chemistry and one other subject; this course has been developed for those with high academic potential who experienced disadvantage.

Although some technician level jobs, mainly based in laboratories, don't require a degree, competition in this industry is very fierce.

Useful subjects

  • Biology (required by most courses)
  • Maths (required by most courses)
  • Chemistry (required by most courses)
  • English
  • Science subjects
  • Techologies subjects

You will also need

To become a clinical scientist with the National Health Service (NHS) requires an honours degree at 2:1 or above (SCQF level 10).