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Biochemistry Technologist


Description

From dandruff to toenail polish, every biological element in the environment is made up of chemicals. Biochemistry technologists help to understand the complex chemistry of life. Assisting the work of biochemists and biochemical engineers or working independently, biochemistry technologists provide technical research and experimental support.

Biochemistry technologists examine and analyze body fluids, tissues and cells. They look for bacteria, parasites or other micro-organisms, analyze the chemical content of fluids, match blood for transfusions, and test for drug levels in the blood to show how a patient is responding to treatment. They also prepare specimens for examination, count cells and look for abnormal cells.

Biochemistry technologists are constantly putting their creativity to work, synthesizing new materials, transforming combinations of elements of matter and developing the processes to do it all safely and efficiently. They help test blood and bodily fluids for the presence of toxic chemicals and sugars which, in the long run helps scientists towards the discovery of new pharmaceuticals and cures for disease. Their work also contributes to the manufacturing industry including the foods we eat and the energy that fuels our cars and heats our homes. They usually work under the guidance of biochemical engineers and biochemists to help with clinical research and product development.

They use automated equipment and instruments that perform a number of tests simultaneously, as well as microscopes, cell counters, and other kinds of sophisticated laboratory equipment to perform tests. Biochemistry technologists analyze the results from various studies and relay these findings to scientists and engineers. In conducting tests, biochemistry technologists follow well defined procedures based on science, engineering and mathematical principles.

They may also supervise laboratory assistants who use various computerized instruments. However, biochemistry technologists must set up and adjust the automated equipment and check its performance. Other areas they are responsible for maintaining is safety and environmental concerns. Often they are working with contagious fluids; therefore, they must take the proper safety precautions and implement such standards for technicians and assistants.

Although most work takes place in laboratories, biochemistry technologists sometimes travel to hospitals and factories to make sure that safety standards are being met and that technology is running smoothly. Biochemistry technologists are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Biochemistry technologists are analytical, creative and innovative thinkers with excellent problem solving skills. They have a natural affinity and aptitude for mathematics and science and can often visualize complex processes and design on computers and with sophisticated lab equipment. They possess excellent communication skills, both written and oral, and have the ability to work well in teams with people from various disciplines and backgrounds. They also possess the ability to pay close attention to details.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Set up and conduct chemical experiments, tests and analyses using techniques such as chromatography, spectroscopy, physical and chemical separation techniques and microscopy
  • Perform qualitative and quantitative chemical analyses of body fluids to provide information used in diagnosis and treatment of diseases
  • Prepare standards and samples, and analyze samples using bench methods and sophisticated instrumentation
  • Prepare designs to improve operations, and maintain and upgrade laboratory instruments and equipment
  • Isolate, identify and synthesize vitamins, DNA, hormones, enzymes and other proteins
  • Prepare solutions used in chemical analysis
  • Operate and maintain laboratory equipment and apparatus and prepare solutions and sample formulations
  • Compile records and interpret experimental or analytical results
  • Develop and conduct programs of sampling and analysis to maintain quality standards of raw materials, chemical intermediates and products
  • Ensure efficient, safe and environmentally responsible laboratory and plant operations
  • Biochemistry technologists work in offices and laboratories. When experiments do not fit into a regular workday, they may be required to work evenings and weekends. In some facilities, biochemistry technologists are on call, in case of emergency, several nights a week or on weekends.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Biochemistry technologists may work in hospitals, biochemical research laboratories, biochemical engineering offices, environmental consulting firms, sales offices, the government and educational research institutions. More specifically, they can be found at oil extraction plants, chemical, fertilizer and petrochemical production facilities, food processing companies, pulp and paper companies, technical sales organizations, and service and consulting firms.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Advancement opportunities for biochemistry technologists vary depending on the size and nature of the organization and the individual's qualifications. Experienced biochemistry technologists may move into sales or management positions, and become working supervisors, who coordinate and perform the work of a single unit or shift. Some may branch out on their own and operate their own laboratories. Some even become administrators who plan and oversee all laboratory operations.

Some biochemistry technologists go into related fields of work, such as medical or drug research, public health, nuclear medical technology, or technical equipment sales. Others may decide to work as technical writers or as salespersons for biochemical products. With further education, they can become biochemists or biochemical engineers and teach at the postsecondary level.
 

  Educational Paths  
Biochemistry technologists require the completion of a two or three-year college program in chemical, biochemical or chemical engineering technology or a closely related discipline. Certification in biochemical engineering technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering technologists and technicians and may be required by employers. A two-year period of supervised work experience is required before certification and an internship, is a vital step in a technologist's career
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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