Biochem Jobs
January 13, 2005 9:18 PM   Subscribe

What are the best jobs for a new graduate with a BS/MS in biochemistry? Looking for $$$, creative input, least-evil corporations. [+]

I'm planning on taking at least a couple years off before I consider getting a Ph.D. (or forgetting the whole hard science gig). By "off," I mean taking a lucrative job at a biotech/pharmaceutical company doing labwork. I'll be in the Boston area, which gives me many options as to where I could work. I have experience in microbiology, "classical" molecular biology, and some protein biochemistry. By the time I interview with potential employers, I'll have at least one publication under my belt, and possibly two.

Do any of you have experience in this sort of thing? I'm looking to maximize my earning, but also to find a position that will give me the most creative control. I know that I'll never get to really explore as much as I would in an academic environment, but I don't want to be stuck churning out predetermined drug candidate molecules all day on an assembly line, or have to make clones all day.

Also, being somewhat disappointed by the recent drug safety scandals, I'm paying special attention to the ethical record of potential employers. What companies would give me the best work environment and, at the same time, make me proud of my job?

thanks for your input.
posted by rxrfrx to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
NEB? It always struck me as a nice place to work.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:51 PM on January 13, 2005

Jobs doing labwork at biotech/pharmaceutical companies aren't necessarily all that lucrative, especially without management experience (which you don't mention). R&D pays a little more (Research Associate I/II, maybe?). But in the companies I've worked for, most of those jobs really pay for experience. As a new graduate, it will probably be difficult to find a job with much creative control.

I can try to research more specific queries within my company, which is a large health care company with a bioscience division if you are interested. My e-mail is in my profile.
posted by kamikazegopher at 11:46 PM on January 13, 2005

Jobs doing labwork at biotech/pharmaceutical companies aren't necessarily all that lucrative

Depends on what you call lucrative. My brother started there, grew with his comapny, is now in regulatory 15 years later, with many lucrative stock grants under his belt. I don't think he was ever *hurting* for money, either.

As for not-evil, just keep telling yourself that you cure disease for a living. Yeah, that's the ticket...
posted by scarabic at 12:02 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Stay away from university and clinical labs if your main concern is $. Poor remuneration is the rule there, at least for any lab position at postdoc level or below. One advantage of academia, though, is that you're more likely there to find a lab that'll give you some freedom.
posted by shoos at 1:25 AM on January 14, 2005

Response by poster: According to the Fortune "Best Companies to Work for 2005" the average salary for something like "Research Associate II", which requires ~2 years of experience and either a bachelor's or a master's, is in the $60-70K range at companies like Amgen (has some jobs in Boston) and Genentech (does not). I'd consider that lucrative. Or does the "experience required" specifically mean in industry and not in an academic setting?
posted by rxrfrx at 4:27 AM on January 14, 2005

Response by poster: Career Opportunities

Currently there is no new opening at New England Biolabs.

posted by rxrfrx at 4:30 AM on January 14, 2005

The tradeoff in any research setting is usually $ for freedom. Going corporate is where the big bucks are, but you don't generally get to decide what to do. The academic and, to a lesser extent, government labs, have much more freedom to do what they want, but are always scrabbling for resources and personal pay is significantly lower.

A BSc is going to get you into the higher-end lab staff jobs, but transitioning to management or the research scientist level is hard with just a BSc (and getting harder with each passing year). According to C&E News (which you should be reading for job postings, btw), a PhD gets you an extra $20 to $50k a year to start and the gap only gets bigger later in your career.

One thing to think about, if you decide to continue in school, is that you could pick a job with an eye to doing graduate work at the company in a few years. Many companies will do this, especially since there are usually a number of government programs and incentives to encourage them. Smaller companies will often jump at the chance to do this. They get a free salary and a worker for at least four years, plus a more productive employee at the far end.
posted by bonehead at 6:22 AM on January 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: To clarify, I won't just have a BS (BSc), I'll also have a Master's degree.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:05 AM on January 14, 2005

NEB was our client at a webjob I had. They're a cool company full of interesting people and projects. I remember that their building was very nice, even by mid-2000 dotcom standards.

But, yeah, the trade-off between having creative input, or even doing interesting things, is totally against the cake that the job pays. Also, in a research lab, you'll be more likely to get further publications, which will support your PhD applicatiton better that 2 years of work at EnzymaGloboMegaDrugCorp, Inc.
posted by zpousman at 7:11 AM on January 14, 2005

This is good stuff...I'll also graduation in May with a Biochemistry degree, albeit just BS.
posted by jmd82 at 11:38 AM on January 14, 2005

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