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Biochemists study the chemical makeup and products of living matter, and the processes that happen in and between cells at the molecular level. They develop medical, agricultural, food science, pharmacological, industrial, environmental, and other practical applications of biochemistry.

Also Known As

Biological Scientist, Research Scientist

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used.

Here is how this occupation has been classified over time.

2006 NOC

  • 2112: Chemists

2006 NOC-S

  • C012: Chemists

2011 NOC

  • 2112: Chemists

2016 NOC

  • 2112: Chemists

2021 NOC

  • 21101: Chemists

2023 OaSIS

  • 21101.00: Chemists
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Biochemistry is a multidisciplinary field that combines the areas of biology and chemistry. It may also involve disciplines such as physics, math, computing, genetics, and physiology.

Biochemists often work in interdisciplinary teams with physiologists, pharmacologists, plant biologists, microbiologists, chemists, agronomists, and other professionals.

In general, biochemists study the chemistry of biological molecules to better understand events and processes such as how:

  • Living cells reproduce, acquire energy, grow, and develop
  • Enzymes function
  • Genes are regulated
  • Organisms adapt to stresses and disease

Biochemists may specialize in areas such as:

  • The chemistry of cellular processes such as metabolism, growth, and aging
  • The neurochemistry of the brain
  • Proteins, including enzymes, DNA, RNA, and other structures
  • The 3D structure of biological macromolecules
  • The molecular basis of how the immune system functions
  • Mutations in organisms that lead to cancer and other diseases
  • The way cells store and express genetic information
  • How genetic variations affect responses to drugs
  • Genetic engineering
  • Biochemical diagnostic tests
  • Recombinant DNA technology to produce pharmaceutically and industrially useful proteins
  • Environmental analysis of soil and water quality and the interdisciplinary study of human impacts on the environment
  • Food testing and quality assurance
  • The development of new foods, food additives, health, or medicinal products
  • Nanotechnology and the use of molecular machines and enzymes from cells for industrial applications
  • The use of DNA fingerprinting techniques for forensic investigations
  • RNA technologies, including vaccines
Working Conditions
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg

Biochemists generally work in offices and labs. They may work onsite doing environmental or agricultural research, which can include livestock, plants, soils, and water. They may also work in industrial environments on product development. When experiments do not fit into a normal 8-hour workday, biochemists involved in research may work evenings and weekends. They must take health and safety precautions when working with chemicals, viruses, and other biohazards.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2006 NOC: 2112

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in synthesizing information to conduct research to develop new chemical formulations and processes and to devise new technical applications of industrial chemicals and compounds; and to investigate chemical aspects of the mechanisms of drug action, the diagnosis and treatment of disease, organ function and the assessment of health


Interest in precision working with instruments to analyze, synthesize, purify, modify and characterize chemical and biochemical compounds


Interest in consulting in a particular field of technical expertise; and in developing and conducting programs of analysis to ensure quality control of raw materials, chemical intermediates and final products; may supervise other chemists and chemical technicians and technologists

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Biochemists need:

  • Curiosity and imagination
  • Persistence
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication skills

They should enjoy:

  • Synthesizing information
  • Finding innovative approaches
  • Using equipment and instruments to perform precision tasks
  • Coordinating and supervising the work of others

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Top 10 Skills Employers Are Looking For


2016 NOC: 2112

This chart shows which job skills are currently in highest demand for this occupational group. It was created using this occupation's 52 most recent Alberta job postings, collected between Oct 27, 2021 and Jun 18, 2024.

Review these skills to learn:

  • Whether or not this occupation matches your skill set
  • What training you may need to get these skills
  • What skills to highlight in your resumé, cover letter, and interview.
Health benefits: Health care plan
Other benefits: Free parking available
Tasks: Analyze, synthesize, purify, modify and characterize chemical or biochemical compounds
Health benefits: Dental plan
Financial benefits: Bonus
Specializations in Chemistry: Synthetic
Health benefits: Vision care benefits
Attention to detail
Work Setting: Urban area
Health benefits: Disability benefits
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

Most biochemists begin their post-secondary education by completing a bachelor of science (B.Sc.) degree in biochemistry or a related science such as chemistry, biology, physics, microbiology, physiology, pharmacology, or genetics. Economics and management courses are a definite asset for biochemists who wish to advance into management positions.

Increasing access to large data sets, such as those obtained by genome sequencing, is making familiarity with statistics and computer programming a significant asset. Individuals with these skills can more easily work in areas such as bioinformatics, genomics (study of genomes), proteomics (study of the proteins expressed in a cell), and metabolomics (study of metabolites). Scientists with training in these areas can find employment in academia, industry, and government.

Independent investigators who determine and define what research programs to pursue must have a master’s, or more typically, a doctoral (PhD) degree in biochemistry. Regulatory officers in pharmaceutical industries also need several years of industry experience. To work in a hospital or private health-care lab or in some specialized health-care industries, PhD biochemists should take an additional 2- or 3-year post-doctoral course to become certified clinical chemists or clinical biochemists. For more information, visit the CSCC website.

Biochemists whose work falls under the activities of the professional chemist should refer to the Chemist occupational profile.

All biochemists need to keep up with new developments and discoveries.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 23, 2023
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.


Biologists study living organisms and apply their scientific knowledge in various fields.


Under Alberta’s Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act [pdf] and Professional Biologists Regulation [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB) to use the Professional Biologist title or the P. Biol. and P Biol initials.

You do not have to register if you do not call yourself a Professional Biologist.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Biologist.


Chemists conduct research, develop new or improved products and processes, and test and evaluate the composition, quality and safety of materials used by industry and the public.


Professional Chemist is a protected title under Alberta's Professional and Occupational Associations Registration Act. This means that to call yourself a Professional Chemist, you must be a registered member of the Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta (ACPA). You do not have to be registered if you do not call yourself a Professional Chemist.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Chemist.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Biochemists work for:

  • Biotechnology companies
  • Companies in the oil, cosmetics, environmental, and food and beverage industries
  • Medical laboratories
  • Provincial and federal governments
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Universities and medical schools

Early in their careers, biochemists with a B.Sc. or master’s degree usually work as technicians or lab assistants under the supervision of senior biochemists. Some biochemistry graduates work in sales for biotechnology and pharmaceutical firms. For more information, see the Technical Sales Representative occupational profile.

With an advanced degree or several years of experience, biochemists can move into supervisory positions. Teaching positions in post-secondary education, leadership positions in industrial research labs, and some positions in government agencies are restricted to PhD biochemists, often with the additional requirement of 2 years or more of post-doctoral training.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2112: Chemists occupational group, 79.4% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2112: Chemists occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 2.3% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 31 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Related Alberta Job Postings
Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 23, 2023

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.


2016 NOC: 2112
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2112 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production), and other forms of compensation.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

C: Lower Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Lower Reliability, represents a CV of between 15.01% and 33.00% and/or if fewer than 20 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 33% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $16.83 $55.11 $35.63 $40.87
Overall $26.44 $79.60 $52.00 $62.50
Top $38.46 $97.97 $72.97 $76.92

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years
Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties
Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months
Vacancy Rate
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Sciences
Other Sources of Information
Updated Mar 23, 2023

Association of the Chemical Profession of Alberta (ACPA) website:

Alberta Society of Professional Biologists (ASPB) website:

Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences website:

Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists (CSCC) website:

Chemical Institute of Canada website:

ECO Canada website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 23, 2023. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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