Entering the exciting world of Biochemistry can seem intimidating, but luckily you can prepare yourself for it. Here are a few things you can expect.

Your salary

Your salary as an entry-level biochemist will depend on your specific department, education and skillset, as well as what you negotiate for yourself. The average total compensation (including bonus and overtime pay) for entry-level biochemists in South Africa is R146,939. It’s important to know what your peers are earning on average, so that you’re not undervaluing yourself from the beginning. You can learn more about local Biochemist salaries on PayScale.

Your work environment

As with any other job, your work environment will depend on the company and department you’re in, as well as your co-workers and superiors. However, there are some things that most biochemistry environments have in common. Here are a few.
Working alone isn’t uncommon. You’ll often need to collect and process data on your own, which can be quite the change if you’ve had a social school and varsity life. Having said that, teamwork in a biochemist’s life is very important too, so be co-operative and work well with your colleagues.

Your work will rely on you being very careful and thorough. One small mistake can affect much larger calculations, so it’s important to pace yourself and make sure you’re following each step correctly. Health and safety is very important in a biochemist’s workplace. Make sure you understand all of the safety procedures clearly, always wear protective gear when needed, and handle any harmful substances with care.

Most biochemists work a standard work week of 40 hours; but you may need to travel for research purposes, or to attend industry events such as conferences and symposiums. Having an enjoyable work environment is important in staying happy and satisfied in your career, but you’ll learn what you like and dislike along the way, and adjust your path as needed.

Networking

As with any other career, biochemists also benefit from being able to network with people, especially those in their industry. There are many ways to do this. One great way is to find a mentor within your industry- you can learn how to do this here. Another way is to get invited to the latest conferences and events by following the The South African Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (SASBMB) on Facebook, or becoming a member for R200.

You have so many exciting things to look forward to as an entry-level biochemist. Be confident, open to learning and never stop improving yourself. Remember to check out our other Career articles- they’ll help you along your journey with useful resources and advice. Good luck!

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