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Career profile: Clinical biochemist

clinical biochemistDisease detectives, clinical biochemists play an important part in helping doctors to diagnose and treat patients.

A what?

Clinical biochemists examine patient samples (such as blood) and investigate any chemical changes that could reveal a disease or condition. They then work with doctors to plan a suitable treatment.

On the job

Many clinical biochemists work in hospital laboratories where thousands of patient samples are processed each week, a few hundred will show up as abnormal, which is where the biochemists come in.

The biochemist has to carry out a range of tests on the samples using specialist techniques, equipment and computer programs.

As well as helping to diagnose patients, some clinical biochemists will also help forensic scientists review crime evidence and other will also work in universities where they spend their time researching new techniques and diseases as well as teaching the next generation of scientists.

How do I get there?

To become a clinical scientist, you usually need a degree in the relevant science, like biology, microbiology, genetics or biochemistry. People with degrees in physics, engineering, medical physics and biotechnology might also be considered.

To get onto a science degree, you will normally need a minimum of two A levels and five GCSEs (A-C), or the equivalent. One of your A levels should be in biology or chemistry.

Each university will have different entry requirements so make sure you research a few different ones.

Future prospects

You start as a Grade A trainee and can progress up to a Grade C. At each stage you get given more responsibility and more money. The starting salary is around £16,000 to £21,000 but as you gain in experience you could earn more than £66,000 a year.

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