An undergraduate degree in chemistry is sufficient for an entry level position as a lab coordinator, research assistant, product analyst or technical sales. A master’s degree will enable you to obtain a job in research and industrial work. You can even teach in community colleges with your master’s degree. However, to be able to teach in universities you will require a doctoral degree.
A Ph.D or a doctoral degree will also provide you an advanced job position in the management category of a company or you will be responsible for the research and development department of a company or organization.
With a degree in Chemistry you can be employed in the following organizations or industries
- Federal and State Government
- Environmental organizations
- Water processing and natural resource organizations
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Perfume and cosmetic companies
- Petroleum companies
- Agricultural and food companies
- Plant and Animal breeding companies
- Waste management companies
- Colleges and universities
- Mining companies or organizations
- Industries involved in plastic or other synthetic materials
- Textile industries
- Nuclear energy
- Gas and electrical companies
- Organization setup solely for research purposes
The above list is not an exhaustive list since a degree in chemistry can come in handy in many manufacturing businesses and organizations. There are also various government departments and agencies that require the services of individuals holding a degree in chemistry.
Let’s take a look at the various job opportunities you could have with your chemistry degree.
Career in the Government
Government departments such as defense, nuclear energy and natural resources and organizations such as NASA are the largest employers of individuals with a master’s or doctoral in chemistry.
To obtain a job in this sector you should be well versed with government policies. Obtain an internship under a university professor or complete a research program is your best option to break into this sector. You should be comfortable and knowledgeable of high technology scientific equipments and also be able to work with them. You should have a questioning mind and have strong analytical skills.
This is a highly lab based job portfolio. Hence, you should be accustomed to working in a lab and a research or experimental based environment.
The areas where you could obtain a job are
- Research and development
- Analysis and testing
- Environmental sciences
- Defense and related technologies
- Nuclear energy
- Departments within NASA
Those who have a bachelor’s degree are capable of obtaining the position of a quality control executive, carry out analytical testings or assist senior lab analysts in research work.
Career in Biotechnology
To enter the field of Biotechnology, you should have excellent computer and lab skills. It is necessary to have taken an additional course in molecular biology, cytology, biochemistry, genetics or physiology during your degree program.
You will have the following job prospects in this field
- Research and Development
- Analytical testing
- Consulting and Quality Control
- Medical research
- Industrial health and safety
- Hospital and other health care facility administration
During your undergraduate research you should try and get into an internship with your professors or an organization involved in the above areas. This will increase your chances of obtaining a job.
It is advisable to have an internship or experience through assistance in laboratories or other research work carried out by university professors. In this area you have the following job prospects
- Research and Development
- Analysis and Testing
- Quality Control
Industries pertaining to coal, petrol, oil, wood, plastic and food are the prime employers in this field. Also, manufacturing companies involved in developing new processes or synthetic materials recruit individuals specializing in organic chemistry. Many universities and government agencies also require expertise in this field.
The job prospects in this field are more or less similar to the ones under organic chemistry. Also, experience in labs and internship in research areas also enables job placements. The main employers of individuals specializing in inorganic chemistry are
- Water processing plants
- Natural resource organizations
- Environmental research organizations
The job placements are pretty much the same as organic or inorganic chemistry. However, to obtain a job in this area it is necessary to have a strong mathematical base. This area also requires knowledge in social sciences and economics. Therefore, if you have taken additional courses in the aforementioned subjects then you will stand out and qualify for a job in this industry.
The federal government, colleges and universities and industries involved in nuclear, gas, light or electrical or heat energies are the main employers of individuals specializing in physical chemistry.
This area has more to do with the environment and geographical sciences. Hence, you are advised to take up elective courses in these subjects during the degree program. Besides research and development and analytical testing, you will also find jobs in environmental remediation.
The prime employers in the field are industries involved in mining electronics and synthetic materials. Many research labs also require individuals with expertise in this field.
Career in Business
If you have good communication, inter personal and organization abilities then you should consider entering into the Business side of the industry.
It is necessary that you have obtained a minor in business during your degree program. Jobs that you can attain in this field are as follows
- Technical sales or marketing
- Pharmaceutical sales
- Management and Consultancy
- Industrial quality control
- Research and development
In this field your employers could be companies dealing in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, chemicals, paints, paper, machinery, drugs and petroleum. Many agricultural companies and waste management companies also require the services of a well qualified chemistry graduate with a business minor. It is advised that you enroll yourself in student associations such as the Financial Management Association, American Marketing Association or PR Students Society.
You even apply for a teaching job if you have obtained a certification or license to be a teacher. Or you could also be involved in the writing field where you could write or edit research journals or internet sites.
If you have a law degree in addition to your chemistry degree then you could get into patent laws or legislation. You could end up working for law firms, private practices, manufacturing companies or environmental organizations.
As you can see the options available can be endless. Supplementing your degree program with additional courses is very useful. Also, get in touch with the career services department in your college or university as they will provide you with essential information on various areas; assist you to get in touch with professionals in various fields.
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