Biochemistry vs Microbiology: Right Career Path after 12th?

The choice of an undergraduate degree for a high school pass out with an interest in life sciences/biosciences can be a difficult one. Both Biochemistry and Microbiology are flagship programs of Life Sciences leaving students wondering what might be right for them. The differences between these foundation programs might not be very apparent to get started with. But there are some (several) areas of overlap between these two encompassing cores principles of life sciences. Also, for pursuing Bachelors in either program, the subject combination(s) in high school is similar, except for the (probable) inclusion of Mathematics for Biochemistry (to increase possible career options later on). This article will cover the similarities and differences between the two streams with focus on possible job outcomes and which to opt for after high school.

Similarities between Biochemistry and Microbiology

Both Biochemistry and Microbiology course modules begin with introductory courses on life sciences. The fundamentals of “life” per se remain the same (has to!). Common topics in both include fundamentals of genetics, core molecular biology, recombinant DNA technology, central dogma principles to name a few. These are like the building blocks any life science student ought to know, regardless of undergraduate specialization.

Differences between Biochemistry and Microbiology

There are essentially common modules (mentioned above) taught in the first year in both biochemistry and microbiology. But the differences become more evident from the second year onwards. Microbiology course modules cover the growth, life cycle and pathogenicity of microorganisms. Knowledge of these basics are then applied on a broader scale in food and agricultural sciences, environmental sciences, antibiotic production for instance. Biochemistry, on the other hand has its basics rooted into the structure-function relationship of biomacromolecules and their subsequent application in drug development and therapy. However, the tools a biochemist uses for drug development begins with traditional research that necessarily involves microorganisms.

Which is better: Biochemistry or Microbiology?

From an unbiased perspective, both are equally good as far as the understanding of the subject is concerned. However, the differentiating factor here is what job outcomes the student is looking at. The career prospects will be different depending on biochemistry or microbiology and also on the specialization the student pursues his/her Masters. The salary too would depend on the Masters specialization, generically speaking. The jobs offered can be both from private or government sectors/institutions with the student (optionally) having to take additional entrance test(s).

Top Jobs after BSc. Biochemistry

  • Biochemist
  • Analytical Chemist
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Bioinformatician
  • Healthcare and Medicine Specialist
  • Medical Writer
  • Research Assistant

Top Jobs after BSc. Microbiology

  • Food Scientist
  • Agricultural Scientist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Bacteriologist
  • Virologist
  • Mycologist
  • Geneticist
  • Bioinformatician

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Average Salary of BSc. Biochemistry vs BSc. Microbiology

The pay scale is similar for a Biochemistry or Microbiology graduate and ranges from INR 4-6 lakhs per annum. This amount is subject to changes based on the choice of Masters specialization as already mentioned.

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