How to Become a Biophysicist


To become a biophysicist, you need to first determine if this career is a good fit for you:


Are you interested in the biological and physical processes of living things? Are you interested in a career that allows you to help advance knowledge in the field of science and medicine? Are you strong in the sciences and enjoy research?


If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, you may be well suited for a career as a biophysicist!


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a biophysicist. We've also included helpful information for a biophysicist career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Required Education

To get an entry-level job in biophysics, such as that of a technician, you need to have at least a bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry, mathematics or biology. Employers also typically require entry-level candidates to have some experience in a laboratory as well, which can be gained from schoolwork or an internship program.


To work in applied research or product development positions, you'll likely need a master’s degree in one of the subjects listed above. And finally, to work as an independent scientist, you would need a Ph.D. or even a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.).





General Job Description

Biophysicists study the physical properties of living organisms, their electrical and mechanical energy, as well as other related phenomena. The research activities of biophysicists can lead to major advancements in science and medicine.



Typical Job Duties

• Conduct research to investigate dynamics in such areas as seeing and hearing

• Conduct research to investigate the dynamics relating to the transmission of electrical impulses along nerves

• Analyze functions of the brain such as the transfer of information into the brain from outside, such as hearing

• Analyze functions of the brain such as information storage and memory

• Study the spatial configuration of sub-microscopic molecules such as proteins

• Publish academic papers



Who Employs Biophysicists?

There are many employers that can utilize the knowledge, skills and competencies of biophysicists, including:


• Government agencies

• Private and public research institutes (in the physical, engineering and life sciences)

• Colleges and universities

• Biomedical companies

• Pharmaceutical and medical manufacturing companies

• Healthcare facilities and hospitals



Average Biophysicist Salary

The salary level of biophysicists can vary greatly depending on factors such as their level of experience, their level of education, where they work, their field of specialty and many others.


Salary in Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing - June 17, 2019), Albertans in the Biochemists occupational group (which was the closest field available with reliable data) earn an average salary of $79,450 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories. 


Salary in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary of workers in the Biophysicists and Biochemists occupational group is $79,390 per year.





Work Environment for Biophysicists

The work settings, conditions and duties of biophysicists can vary greatly from one field of specialty or one employer to the next. Below are examples of the primary types of settings for biophysicist careers:


Office: Biophysicists working in an office setting provide advice and counsel to businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Biophysicists that work in office settings typically work during normal weekday hours.


Classroom: These biophysicists typically conduct lectures, grade papers and advise students. They have working hours that can fluctuate from very few hours a week to a very heavy workload. They may work normal weekday working hours with extra hours put in for preparing lesson plans, grading papers and performing other duties during evenings and weekends. Some biophysicists teaching in universities and colleges may teach classes exclusively, or they may be involved in research as well.


Laboratory: These biophysicists spend the majority of their time conducting, documenting and analyzing research in a laboratory setting. Working in a laboratory typically involves working with hazardous organic materials and inorganic chemicals. These biophysicists typically work during normal weekday hours.


Fieldwork: Biophysicists who perform work in the field are subject to a variety of weather conditions and work hazards. Their work may also involve traveling for long periods of time on research ships, or it may involve them traversing remote and rugged terrain for various lengths of time. 



Biophysicist Jobs - Current Openings

Our job board below has biophysicist postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to biophysicist, as they involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


• Cell Biologist

• Geneticist

• Molecular Biologist

• Molecular Biophysicist

• Physicist




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career in this field.


Occupations in Alberta:Physicist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved October 28, 2019.

Life, Physical, and Social Science:Biochemists and Biophysicists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved October 28, 2019.

Career Resources:Becoming a Biophysicist.” (n.d.). Biophysical Society website. Retrieved October 28, 2019.



Scholarships for Becoming a Biophysicist

Scholarships listed for majors that are relevant to becoming a biophysicist can be found on our Biology Scholarships and Physics Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant University Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to working in this field. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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