Biochemists work primarily in laboratories at private companies, government agencies and public research institutions. Their research into how the human body functions lays important groundwork in fields such as medicine and genetics. Because they work so closely together and their job descriptions sometimes overlap, the Bureau of Labor Statistics considers biochemists and biophysicists to be a single occupational category.
National Average Pay
As of 2012, biochemists and biophysicists working in the United States earned an average wage of $43.01 per hour and an average salary of $89,470 per year, according to figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median-earning 50 percent of biochemists earned salaries ranging from $55,360 to $112,200 per year. The lowest-paid 10 percent made $41,430 or less per year, while the highest-paid 10 percent earned $147,350 or more annually.
Pay by Employment Sector
Private research and development firms employed about half of biochemists and biophysicists as of 2012, paying an average salary of $92,150 per year. Those employed directly by pharmaceutical manufacturers reported an average income of $87,910, while those employed by local governments earned an average of $98,690. Biochemists and biophysicists employed by colleges and universities tended to make somewhat less, reporting an average salary of $64,560 as of 2012.
Pay by Location
The highest average pay for biochemists was located squarely within the Northeast as of 2012. Those working in New Hampshire reported the highest average salary by state, $123,590 per year. New Jersey ranked second at $117,780, followed by Massachusetts at $101,930, Pennsylvania at $101,000 and Connecticut at $97,210. California reported the highest average pay outside the Northeast, $94,790 per year. The lowest average salary for this occupation, $46,680 per year, was reported by Kentucky.
While the expected job growth rate for biochemists and biophysicists is very high through 2020, about 31 percent, the number of job openings will still be relatively small in number because it is a small, specialized field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects about 7,700 new positions to be created by the end of the decade. Candidates who hold a Ph.D., have postdoctoral experience and have had research articles published are expected to have the best chances of finding employment.