This is an exciting time in the world of biochemistry. Especially so in Ireland, where many of the world’s top pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies now have a significant presence. Many of these are investing heavily in research and development, boding well for future generations of Irish biochemists.

Alternative job titles for this role

  • Bioengineer
  • Molecular biologist
  • Biophysicist
  • Biotechnologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Introduction

    Biochemists study the chemical and physical principles of living things and of biological processes such as cell development, growth, and heredity at the molecular level. It is a lab-based science studying components such as proteins, lipids and organelles that brings together both chemistry and biology in order to understand and solve problems. Biochemistry covers a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. It includes genetics, microbiology, forensics, plant science and medicine. Some biochemists work in research, examining different genetics or drawing out maps of cell structures in various organisms. Biochemists also analyse the complex reactions of living organisms such as metabolism, reproduction and growth.

    What the job involves

    • Research into the action of foods, drugs and other substances on tissues and on the vital processes of living things
    • Study how hormones, vitamins, allergens, minerals and enzymes work on body functions
    • Look at the chemical aspects of the formation of antibodies, and conduct research into the chemistry of cells and blood corpuscles
    • Study the chemistry of how normal and abnormal cells behave in areas such as breathing and digestion
    • Study the chemistry of growth, aging and death in living things
    • Most biochemists are employed as researchers in universities, research institutes and large companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals
    • Small companies also employ biochemists to provide specialist services, such as toxicological studies

    How your career can develop

    Career path options for graduate biochemists are wide and varied; from lab associates to analytical chemists. From biomedical and healthcare researchers to lead scientists and from clinical research associates and managers to forensic science and toxicology specialists.

    Why it matters

    Biochemists from Trinity College Dublin have devised a new technique that will make the difficult but critical job of understanding how certain proteins work considerably faster, cheaper and easier.


    • An interest in biology and chemistry
    • Critical thinking
    • Communication skills
    • Analytical thinking
    • Independent thinking
    • Problem-solving
    • Observation skills

    Typical employers

    • Universities and research institutes
    • Large companies in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices
    • Small companies also employ biochemists to provide specialist services, such as toxicological studies
    • Environmental agencies and research bodies
    • Food and agricultural companies

    Typical salary

    • Graduate/Starting €23,000 to €30,000
    • Senior/Potential up to €100,000+

    Typical qualifications

    A bachelor’s degree in biochemistry is the norm. However, students can attend a general science certification or diploma before progressing onto a biochemistry degree. A postgraduate qualification will see a typical biochemistry graduate specialise in a vast range of subjects such as medicine and pharmacology, microbiology, immunology, genetics, cell biology, entomology, agricultural science, biological oceanography, fisheries and wildlife, toxicology, food science and technology, environmental sciences, forensics and nutrition… to name but a few!