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Biochemical Engineers
SOC Code: 17-2199.01

Develop usable, tangible products, using knowledge of biology, chemistry, or engineering. Solve problems related to materials, systems, or processes that interact with humans, plants, animals, microorganisms, or biological materials.

Sample of reported job titles: Engineering Director, Process Engineer, Research Associate, Research Engineer, Research Fellow, Research Greenhouse Supervisor, Research Scientist, University Extension Specialist


  • Maintain databases of experiment characteristics or results.
  • Read current scientific or trade literature to stay abreast of scientific, industrial, or technological advances.
  • Develop methodologies for transferring procedures or biological processes from laboratories to commercial-scale manufacturing production.
  • Prepare technical reports, data summary documents, or research articles for scientific publication, regulatory submissions, or patent applications.
  • Devise scalable recovery, purification, or fermentation processes for producing proteins or other biological substances for human or animal therapeutic use, food production or processing, biofuels, or effluent treatment.
  • Review existing manufacturing processes to identify opportunities for yield improvement or reduced process variation.
  • Develop recovery processes to separate or purify products from fermentation broths or slurries.
  • Design or conduct follow-up experimentation, based on generated data, to meet established process objectives.
  • Develop biocatalytic processes to convert biomass to fuels or fine chemicals, using enzymes of bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms.
  • Confer with research and biomanufacturing personnel to ensure the compatibility of design and production.
  • Design or conduct studies to determine optimal conditions for cell growth, protein production, or protein or virus expression or recovery, using chromatography, separation, or filtration equipment, such as centrifuges or bioreactors.
  • Collaborate with manufacturing or quality assurance staff to prepare product specification or safety sheets, standard operating procedures, user manuals, or qualification and validation reports.
  • Communicate with bioregulatory authorities regarding licensing or compliance responsibilities.
  • Develop bioremediation processes to reduce pollution, protect the environment, or treat waste products.
  • Prepare project plans for biochemical equipment or facility improvements, including time lines, budgetary estimates, or capital spending requests.
  • Advise manufacturing staff regarding problems with fermentation, filtration, or other bioproduction processes.
  • Design or direct bench or pilot production experiments to determine the scale of production methods that optimize product yield and minimize production costs.
  • Communicate with suppliers regarding the design or specifications of bioproduction equipment, instrumentation, or materials.
  • Direct experimental or developmental activities at contracted laboratories.
  • Participate in equipment or process validation activities.
  • Develop statistical models or simulations of biochemical production, using statistical or modeling software.
  • Consult with chemists or biologists to develop or evaluate novel technologies.
  • Recommend biochemical process formulas, instrumentation, or equipment specifications, based on results of bench or pilot experimentation.
  • Prepare piping or instrumentation diagrams or other schematics for proposed process improvements, using computer-aided design software.
  • Lead studies to examine or recommend changes in process sequences or operation protocols.
  • Develop experiments to determine production methods that minimize pollution or waste.
  • Modify or control biological systems to replace, augment, or sustain chemical or mechanical processes.
  • Review existing biomanufacturing processes to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
  • Create simulations or models to predict the impact of environmental factors, such as pollutants, climate change, or environmental remediation efforts.
  • Develop toxicological or environmental testing processes to measure chemical toxicity or environmental impact.
  • Design products to measure or monitor airborne pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, or particulate matter.
  • Develop processes or products, such as natural recovery monitoring, in situ capping or treatment, or sediment removal, to treat contamination of subaqueous sediment.
  • Develop alternative processes to produce crude oil, such as extraction from diatoms or thermochemical conversion of manure or other wastes.
  • Collaborate in the development or delivery of biochemical manufacturing training materials.

Technology Skills

  • Analytical or scientific software - ApE A Plasmid Editor; SAS ; The MathWorks MATLAB ; Wolfram Research Mathematica (see all 10 examples)
  • Computer aided design CAD software - Bioreactor Design
  • Data base user interface and query software - Thomson Reuters EndNote
  • Operating system software - UNIX
  • Presentation software - Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Spreadsheet software - Microsoft Excel
  • Word processing software - Microsoft Word

Tools Used

  • Air samplers or collectors - Aerosol analyzers
  • Analytical balances
  • Autosamplers
  • Benchtop centrifuges - Centrifuges
  • Binocular light compound microscopes - Inverted light microscopes
  • Blotting or transfer apparatus - Electroblotting apparatus
  • Calorimeters - Bomb calorimeters; Differential scanning calorimeters
  • Chemical absorption gas analyzers - Surface area analyzers
  • Chemiluminescence or bioluminescence analyzers - Chemiluminescence analyzers
  • Complementary deoxyribonucleic acid cDNA synthesis kits - Deoxyribonucleic acid DNA synthesizers
  • Digital camcorders or video cameras - Camcorders
  • Digital cameras
  • Dissolved oxygen meters - Dissolved oxygen probes
  • Dry wall single chamber carbon dioxide incubators - Carbon dioxide CO2 incubators
  • Electronic counters - Automated particle counters; Condensation nuclei counters CNC; Optical particle counters
  • Extruders
  • Flame ionization analyzers - Flame ionization detectors FID
  • Fluorescent microscopes - Fluorescence microscopes
  • Fog or mist generators - Aerosol generators
  • Freeze dryers or lyopholizers - Freeze dryers
  • Gas chromatographs - Gas chromatographs GC
  • Gas detectors - Toxic gas detectors
  • Gel documentation systems - Protein gel electrophoresis
  • High pressure liquid chromatograph chromatography - High pressure liquid chromatographs HPLC
  • Infrared spectrometers - Fourier transform infrared FTIR spectrometers
  • Instrumentation for capillary electrophoresis - Capillary electrophoresis systems
  • Ion chromatographs
  • Laminar flow cabinets or stations - Laminar flow hoods
  • Liquid chromatographs - Fast protein liquid chromatographs FPLC; Refractive index detectors
  • Luxmeters - Digital luxmeters
  • Mass spectrometers - Ion trap mass spectrometers; Quadrupole mass spectrometers
  • Microbiology analyzers - Flow cytometers
  • Microbiology fermentation equipment - Microbial fermenters
  • Microplate readers - Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ELISA plate readers
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectrometers - Nuclear magnetic resonance NMR spectroscopes
  • Optical diffraction apparatus - Low-pressure impactors; Particle size classifiers
  • Orbital shakers
  • Organic carbon analyzers - Total organic carbon TOC analyzers
  • Oxygen sensors - Oxygen meters
  • Personal computers
  • pH meters
  • Photosynthesis measurement apparatus - Plant photosynthesis meters
  • Rapid amplification or complementary deoxyribonucleic acid ends RACE technology products - Real-time polymerase chain reaction PCR equipment
  • Reactors or fermenters or digesters - Enzymatic membrane reactors
  • Refrigerated and heated reach in environmental or growth chambers - Environmental growth chambers
  • Rheometers
  • Robotic or automated liquid handling systems - Liquid handling robots
  • Scanning electron microscopes - Scanning electron microscopes SEM
  • Scanning light or spinning disk or laser scanning microscopes - Confocal laser scanning microscopes
  • Spectrofluorimeters or fluorimeters - Fluorospectrometers
  • Spectrometers - Ultraviolet spectrometers
  • Spectrophotometers - Microplate spectrophotometers; Ultraviolet spectrophotometers
  • Steam autoclaves or sterilizers - Autoclaves
  • Sugar analyzers
  • Surface tension measuring instruments - Contact angle goniometers
  • Temperature cycling chambers or thermal cyclers - Thermal cyclers
  • Tensiometers - Tensionmeters
  • Thermocouples - Flash point detectors
  • Thickness measuring devices - Ellipsometers
  • Tissue culture incubators - Cell culture bioreactors
  • Titration equipment - Automatic titrators
  • Ultra pure water systems - Ion exchange purification systems
  • Viscosimeters - Viscometers
  • X ray diffraction equipment - X ray diffractometers


  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Biology - Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Production and Processing - Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
  • Physics - Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Administration and Management - Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.


  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving - Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Science - Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Active Learning - Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Mathematics - Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Systems Analysis - Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation - Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operations Analysis - Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Instructing - Teaching others how to do something.
  • Learning Strategies - Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Category Flexibility - The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Mathematical Reasoning - The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Fluency of Ideas - The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).
  • Originality - The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Number Facility - The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
  • Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.


  • Interest code: IR
    • Investigative - Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
    • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Work Context

  • Electronic Mail - 88% responded “Every day.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions - 72% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone - 64% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate - 52% responded “Very important.”
  • Indoors, Environmentally Controlled - 48% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets - 44% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team - 44% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others - 40% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week - 56% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions - 56% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work - 56% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety - 36% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Letters and Memos - 52% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others - 42% responded “Very important.”
  • Level of Competition - 48% responded “Highly competitive.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results - 48% responded “Important results.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results - 44% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
  • Time Pressure - 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Sitting - 56% responded “About half the time.”
  • Deal With External Customers - 36% responded “Important.”
  • Consequence of Error - 32% responded “Very serious.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making - 32% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled - 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”


Percentage of RespondentsEducation Level Required
60%Bachelor's degree
20%Doctoral degree
12%Master's degree

Work Styles

  • Analytical Thinking - Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Integrity - Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Persistence - Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Cooperation - Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Initiative - Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Innovation - Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Achievement/Effort - Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility - Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Leadership - Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Independence - Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Concern for Others - Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Work Values

  • Recognition - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer advancement, potential for leadership, and are often considered prestigious. Corresponding needs are Advancement, Authority, Recognition and Social Status.
  • Independence - Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Wages & Trends

  • Median wages (2017)
    • $46.75 hourly, $97,250 annual
  • Employment (2016)
    • 133,000 employees
  • Projected growth (2016-2026)
    • Average (5% to 9%)
  • Projected job openings (2016-2026)
    • 9,500

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