Chemistry

Chemistry is a science central to multiple areas of research and industry, and science jobs in this field can range from performing academic research to working as a flavor developer for a food company. A degree in chemistry can prepare someone for a wide variety of careers. Some possible careers in chemistry are described below.

Most chemists work in the chemical industry researching new processes, generating new materials, or consulting in research and development (R&D). Both entry level and advanced positions are available. R&D is an important aspect of the industry, and the development of new technologies that can be turned into new products is always important. The role of research chemists is to develop new or improved technologies. These scientists work at a bench and carry out chemical reactions or determine chemical properties. Typically, a PhD scientist will lead a group, with several undergraduate and graduate-level scientists completing the team as technicians. The production chemist applies the new technologies developed by the research chemist to large-scale manufacturing. These professionals work with plant engineers to optimize the use of plant equipment and oversee the production process to ensure quality control and compliance with government regulations. Once a product is manufactured, professionals with a good understanding of the product are necessary to sell the product to potential customers and then to provide technical support for customers using the product. Chemical manufacturers often employ people with a background in chemistry to sell their products. Sales people identify what products would help achieve the customers' goals, and help design protocols and applications. Technical service representatives work with customers to develop new product applications, write instruction manuals, and help customers troubleshoot problems.

In addition to careers in industry, academic careers are an option for people with degrees in chemistry. These professionals can teach chemistry at the high school, community college, college, or university level. These positions will often require a graduate degree (MS or PhD), although private high schools will hire teachers with only a bachelor's degree. At research universities, faculty members are expected to direct research in addition to teaching. These positions require a PhD and postdoctoral experience. Many support positions are available at university research centers for people with chemistry backgrounds. These include lab technicians and staff scientists who work with PhD scientists in support roles in both teaching and research, safety officers who handle hazardous waste and ensure compliance with EPA guidelines, and stockroom managers who order and maintain inventories of chemicals for researchers and the teaching staff.

Chemistry

For those not interested in careers in industry or academia, a variety of career opportunities is available working for federal, state, or local governments. For example, the U.S. government operates a number of national research labs employing BS, MS, and PhD scientists. Furthermore, government departments such as the EPA, FBI, and the FDA employ chemists to both conduct research and perform analytical services for the regulatory role of these agencies. A bachelor's degree in chemistry can also be a springboard to careers in fields such as law enforcement and scientific writing. For example, forensic science is becoming an essential part of law enforcement. This work requires a strong basis in analytical chemistry and biochemistry. There are numerous employment opportunities for people interested in working for local, state, and national forensic science labs. Trade magazines, technical journals, and sometimes the popular press all need technically trained people who can keep a tab on recent developments and convey complex scientific ideas to both scientists and lay people. This career path provides a great way to combine an interest in science, writing, and communication. Taking writing or journalism courses would provide a good background for this career path. Finally, the U.S. Patents office employs people with a background in chemistry to analyze patent applications and determine whether they present a truly novel concept and meet the requirements to be awarded a patent.