Biochemical Engineers fall into the Investigative Theme Code of the Strong Interest Inventory® Test. This Inventory has been optimized since its release in 1927 to help people gain valuable insights about their preferences and interests, and leverage them in identifying fulfilling careers and leisure activities. The Investigative Theme Code incorporates activities that involve analyzing or processing data or information about the real world. Careers in this category are flexible, and afford a great deal of independence in terms of work environment. People who prefer Investigative activities have a proclivity for mathematics and the sciences.
Biochemical Engineers apply their knowledge of the natural and physical sciences (including physics, chemistry, and biology) as well as engineering to develop products and solve problems that impact humans, plants, animals, or microorganisms. They develop processes for producing substances that are useful for human or animal consumption, fuel, or treatment, such as proteins. This process requires designing or conducting studies to determine how to optimize cell growth, protein production, cell reproduction, or other biological processes. They prepare technical reports or research articles for scientific publication that summarize and present their findings so that others can evaluate and replicate it. To this end, they maintain records and databases of their results, as well as the characteristics and methods of the experiments that produced them. They also stay up-to-date on the latest developments in their field, most frequently by reading trade publications and attending conferences.
A Biochemical Engineer works closely with researchers and manufacturing personnel to ensure that the theoretical design and actual production are compatible. They develop ways of transferring procedures or processes from the confines of a laboratory setting to the large commercial-scale production facilities. They also communicate with bioregulatory authorities to ensure that their facilities are fully compliant and that all necessary licenses are current.
The tools and technology used by a Biochemical Engineer includes standard laboratory equipment (e.g., balances, centrifuges, microscopes, electronic cell counters, mass spectrometers, pH meters, thermometers, calorimeters, mist generators, extruders, flame ionization analyzers, etc.), specialized laboratory equipment (e.g., automatic titration machines, x-ray diffraction equipment, and microplate spectrophotometers, chemical absorption gas analyzers), as well as recording materials (e.g., cameras, video cameras). In terms of software, they may use scientific or analytical software (e.g., SAS, MATLAB, etc.) or computer aided design software, as well as the now-ubiquitous Microsoft Office Suite and Google Suite.
The vast majority of Biochemical Engineers have earned a Bachelor’s degree (71%), though many of them also continued their education to earn a Master’s degree (14%) or even a doctoral degree (10%). In their time of intense study, they develop a foundational knowledge of the natural and applied sciences, including engineering, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, production, processing, and design. All of these skills must be mastered, integrated, and applied for them to be successful. They also have highly-developed critical thinking skills, strong time management skills and the ability to think quickly and critically about complex problems with many moving parts is required. Finally, they must be proficient in written and spoken English, as well as acute near and far-vision, and perceptual speed.
Biochemical Engineers salary nationwide averages over $95,000 annually, with the highest-paid Biochemical Engineers averaging over $150,000 annually, with those in California nearing $165,000. In California, New Mexico, and Maryland, their average salary is over $105,000. Even in places like Arkansas, which are not as well-known for their innovation, the mean salary for Biochemical Engineers is still over $60,000. The employment rates of Biochemical Engineers are projected to increase 4% nationwide before 2024, with the greatest growth projected in Utah, Idaho, and Nebraska (up to 25% before 2024).
Below are some employment trends for Biochemical Engineers:
- Median Biochemical Engineer salary: $45.31/hour; $94,240 annually
- Employment: 137,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2022): slower than average (2% to 4%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2022): 33,000
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org