Career Paths

Traditionally, most biochemists followed a somewhat linear career path, where graduate school led to a postdoctoral fellowship, which then led to a tenure-track position doing research in an academic setting. A biochemist's path on the tenure-track also seemed straightforward--an assistant professor became an associate professor (mostly accompanied by tenure) and then, one day, a full professor.  The only question appeared to be whether to pursue one’s career in a basic science department, a medical school or a research institute. This is, of course, an over-simplification of the career choices open to biochemists in the past, and it falls short in describing what we do today. This mythical portrayal of a biologist does, however, illustrate the fact that most of us know scientists who are currently engaged in academic research. It is relatively straightforward to find someone who can offer advice about following a similar career path.

We have compiled a list of sites about career options to get you started. This list is by no means comprehensive but should be viewed as a starting point for your research. An additional idea is to find other scientists in career paths of interest to you and contact them directly. Most scientists are happy to explain what they do and answer questions. Note:  The ASBMB does not endorse or assume responsibility for the information posted on these web sites.


  • Science Career Magazine - Latest incarnation of Science’s Next Wave.   Very good resource for all aspects of career development.
  • The Chronicle of Higher Education - Interesting articles and forums on both academic and non-academic careers
  • PhDs.ORG - Another private site with many links to interesting articles about scientific careers of all sorts.  Has a graduate student focus
  • The Riley Guide - This site is defined as a “directory of employment and career information sources and services on the Internet”, focusing on opportunities in the natural sciences.  The links seem to be up to date
  • Access Excellence - aimed at high school students but has some good information and testimonials
  • Mentoring and Diversity- Tips for Students and Professionals for Developing and Maintaining a Diverse Scientific Community


  • BioSpace - A comprehensive site that features industry news and careers for life science professionals.
  • National Association of Science Writers – includes resources, books and mailing lists.  Reading the lists can give you a good feel for what science writers do and an idea whether you would like to pursue this option.
  • American Medical Writers Association – includes information about membership, local chapters (which have nice events for networking), AMWA’s educational program in writing, and job opportunities




  • AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowships - Provide an opportunity for scientists and engineers to participate in and contribute to the federal policymaking process while learning firsthand about the intersection of science and policy.


  • " Career Trends: Careers Away from the Bench" - Published by ScienceCareers and AAAS.  This booklet is a compilation of articles that give advice and insight into obtaining jobs outside of the laboratory setting, ranging from law to science writing, to working for non-profits.  The entire  booklet can be downloaded for free. 
  • " Biomedical Careers in Industry" by Robert A. Copeland, Ph.D.