In Summary - Biochemical Engineer
Biochemical Engineers typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Biochemical Engineer
Biochemical engineers are concerned with biological changes, which are important to the production of pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs and the treatment of waste.
They engineer improvements to pharmaceuticals; this enhances the quality of our lives by defining ways in which new biological discoveries can be sensitively translated into practical realities.
Biochemical engineers apply engineering science principles to biological materials, processes and systems to create new products. Theses could include almost anything - vaccines, foods, plastic forks and plates, cattle feed and clothing.
For example, biochemical engineers are found in pharmaceutical companies, working in teams alongside chemists and biologists. They often work to achieve purity, for example, when developing life-saving vaccines. Biochemical engineers find and produce the right mixture of molecules to make a drug (some mixtures are valuable while others can be ineffective or even toxic), and then make sure that the drug can be produced on the right scale for the people who need it.
Other biochemical engineers work with life scientists to develop genetic engineering techniques, enabling medical professionals to treat a wide range of medical conditions in the body, without the need for drug treatments.
Biochemical engineers may also work for biotechnology companies that use genetic engineering techniques to try to improve crop yields or increase their resistance to pests and disease.
Some biochemical engineers work for food processing companies, helping to transfer food from farms to consumers in a safe, convenient and natural state.
Biochemical engineering has a very important role to play in protecting the environment. For example, they may use mixtures of growing biological cells to detoxify human waste and many types of industrial waste.
Biochemical engineers may lead teams, including other engineers and engineering technicians.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- 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.
- Read current scientific or trade literature to stay abreast of scientific, industrial, or technological advances.
- 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.
- Develop biocatalytic processes to convert biomass to fuels or fine chemicals, using enzymes of bacteria, yeast, or other microorganisms.
- Prepare technical reports, data summary documents, or research articles for scientific publication, regulatory submissions, or patent applications.
- Confer with research and biomanufacturing personnel to ensure the compatibility of design and production.
- Design or direct bench or pilot production experiments to determine the scale of production methods that optimize product yield and minimize production costs.
- Develop methodologies for transferring procedures or biological processes from laboratories to commercial-scale manufacturing production.
- Design or conduct follow-up experimentation, based on generated data, to meet established process objectives.
- Maintain databases of experiment characteristics or results.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Interests - Biochemical Engineer
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Biochemical engineers must enjoy solving problems and be committed to keeping up to date with advances in this fast changing area. They must also be analytically minded and resilient in their work.
You must have strong communication and interpersonal skills to interact with engineers and scientists from other disciplines. You are also likely to need management skills, including the ability to lead and motivate others.
Biochemical engineers should have an excellent grasp of modern technology, including the ability to use computers. For example, you may use computer-aided design technology in design and research work.
You are also likely to need a commitment to protecting the environment and a knowledge of issues such as waste management and the greenhouse effect.
You need to be able to work within structures and follow strict safety guidelines and legal parameters. This occupation is highly responsible and accuracy is very important.
Entry Requirements - Biochemical Engineer
Pay & Salary - Biochemical Engineer
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 30k - 65k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Biochemical Engineer
While the supply of graduates appears to be sufficient to meet the annual recruitment requirement (5,500 graduates in 2017), the demand is arising for roles for those with a high level of experience and/or in niche areas. The demand is for a small number of people given the relatively small size of this occupation (approx. 1% of total employment) and in the areas associated with pharmaceuticals, biopharma and food development.
National Skills Bulletin 2018