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Kickstart your biochemistry & life science career in Australia

Turn your curiosity for living creatures and nature into a career with a Biochemistry or Life Science degree in Australia.

You will learn about the chemical components and processes of organisms of all shapes and sizes, and be able relate this to how they originate, survive and interact with their surroundings.

Your expertise will enable you to develop new products and strategies, and solve problems to improve our quality of life and the environment. 

Choosing to work and study in Australia means that you will to have the opportunity to collaborate with leading academics in world-class facilities, and play an important role advancing research in the fast growing life sciences industry.

We have put together this guide to help you learn more about university courses, Visa options, career pathways and finding a job in biochemistry or life science.

Benefits of Studying Biochemistry & Life Sciences

  • Become part of an in-demand industry with strongly predicted future growth.
  • Contribute to innovation in a range of disciplines and industries, including medicine, biology, chemistry, biotechnology, environmental science, agriculture, microbiology, manufacturing and many more!
  • Be a part of a cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary scientific research community.
  • Make a difference by tackling big issues facing our future community health and survival, including emerging biological problems, developing new drugs, materials or products or eradicating diseases.
  • Become an excellent researcher by learning modern, advanced practical skills and analysis and critical thinking skills.

What biochemists and life scientists do

Life scientists study living organisms and the environment. A biochemist is a specific type of life scientist.

Your work as a scientist will include:

  • Conducting research through experimental design and analysis
  • Publishing research through scientific papers in journals
  • Keeping up to date with the latest research
  • Presenting lectures to peers, colleagues and students at conferences and meetings
  • Supervising and overseeing work in the laboratory, on field studies
  • Prepare proposals and presentations to apply for funding for future research projects

Career pathways

Pursuing a life science degree is the first step towards one of the following occupations:

ANZSCO 234511 Life Scientist or General Biologist

Study the structure, function and origin of living organisms and interactions with their surroundings.

ANZSCO 234512 Anatomist or Physiologist

Study the anatomy and physiology of humans, with options to specialise as an Embryologist or Neuroanatomist.

ANZSCO 234513 Biochemist

Examines the connection between the chemistry and molecular structure of living organisms. Sub-specialties include Enzyme Chemist and Protein Chemist.

ANZSCO 234514 Biotechnologist

Study the structure, function and chemistry of living organisms, then apply the information to develop new products, or improve existing materials, processes and technology. Specialisations include Cell Geneticist, Molecular Biologist or Molecular Geneticist.

ANZSCO 234515 Botanist

Conduct research into the structure, function, biochemistry and ecology of plants, with the choice to specialise as a Plant Morphologist, Pathologist, Physiologist or Taxonomist.

ANZSCO 234516 Marine Biologist

Examine the characteristics of water-dwelling organisms and plants, and how they interact with their surroundings.

ANZSCO 234517 Microbiologist

Study microscopic organisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, yeasts and their enyzmes, with the possibility of sub-specialising as a Bacteriologist.

ANZSCO 234518 Zoologist

Study animal anatomy, physiology, characteristics, ecology, behaviour and environments. Sub- specialties are Entomologist, Mammologist or Ornithologist.

ANZSCO 234599 Life Scientists, not classified within any of the above groups

  • Animal Behaviourist
  • Parasitologist
  • Pharmacologist (non-clinical)
  • Toxicologist

University courses and IELTS requirements

According to the Times World University Rankings 2021, the top 5 universities in Australia to study life science are:

  • University of Melbourne (#37)
  • University of Queensland (#40)
  • University of Sydney (#52)
  • Monash University (#54)
  • Australian National University (#56)

Please note that the required IELTS scores range from 6.0-7.0, depending on the course you choose.

Have your qualification recognised

Once you’ve finished your degree and want to find a job as a biochemist in Australia, you will need to complete the following assessment through VETASSESS first:

  • Apply through the VETASSESS website
  • Have completed an equivalent Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) Bachelor’s degree or higher majoring in Biochemistry (or in some cases, Chemistry), and be able to demonstrate that you have worked in the industry for at least a year after completing your qualification:
    • within the last 5 years
    • employed at least 20 hours per week
    • in a highly related role
  • Achieve a successful Skills Assessment Outcome to have your skills recognised

Visas Needed for Permanent Residency (PR)

The good news for aspiring biochemists like yourself is that this occupation is currently in demand and listed on the Medium to Long Term Skills Shortage List. If you plan to work and live in Australia, here are some Visa options that you may be eligible for:

Job outcomes and future growth of the industry

The future of the Australian life sciences industry is looking very bright. In recent years, it has become increasingly competitive on the world stage and has ranked in the top five countries for biotechnology innovation.

Life Sciences professionals are in demand in Australia

The Australian Government has invested billions of dollars into this industry, recognising that it plays a critical role in driving future economic growth through research and development.

The industry is growing rapidly

Currently in a period of expansive growth. There are currently 243,406 people employed in this sector, up 5% from 2017, in line with the number of organisations rising by 12%.

Salary

The median weekly pay for a life scientist is AUD $1794 (above the average of $1460), and varies with experience.

Where to look for jobs

Victoria and NSW are hubs for the sector, with 73% of the workforce in these locations. There are major life science precincts located in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and SA.

Who is hiring

Companies employ 36% of all life science professionals and are the largest employer in this industry. Since 2017, the number of companies has grown by 16%, and will continue to need more talented scientists, with the top 3 enterprise areas being:

  • Medical technologies and digital health
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Food and agriculture

If you’re considering embarking on a rewarding career as a biochemist, or interested in finding out more about studying life science, contact an IDP careers consultant today.

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