Chemistry is a very practical field with exceptional job prospects.
Salary and Career Options
Salaries depend on degree earned and level of experience. Inexperienced chemists with a BS or BA degree can expect to earn about $40,000; with an MS or Ph.D., this number jumps to $48,000 and $80,000, respectively. A survey of American Chemical Society (ACS) members indicates that the average salary for BS, MS and Ph.D. level chemists is $72,000, $85,000 and $102,000. ACS members also enjoy an unemployment rate that is currently half the national average. While chemists with different degrees may work on the same projects together, a higher degree (PhD vs. MS vs. BA) allows greater autonomy & responsibility. An excellent database of job openings in the chemistry field (academic, governmental or industrial) can be found on the Chemical & Engineering News Jobseekers website, maintained by the ACS.
Career Options After Obtaining a Chemistry Degree
• Medicine: Because of the underlying molecular basis of disease, chemistry and biochemistry provide excellent preparation for medicine; these majors have a high rate of acceptance to medical schools.
• Law: Many chemists who go on to law school do so because they have a particular interest in patent law, but other areas of law are certainly possible, too.
• Engineering: Many students prefer to get a strong undergraduate education at a small liberal arts school, then move to larger schools to pursue a bachelor’s or higher degree in engineering.
• Management / Business: A chemistry or engineering degree, followed by an MBA, provides excellent training for management-level positions in a wide array of industries. In addition, some chemists go into sales of pharmaceuticals or instruments, and many PhD chemists gravitate into management positions on the job.
• Education: College-level chemistry teaching usually requires a Ph.D. in chemistry; high school-level teaching requires a bachelor’s degree with a broader array of science and education courses.
• Technical Writing: Technical writers are often needed by industries and law firms, partly to deal with patents. There are also smaller numbers of positions in the news media.
• Chemistry Research, Development and Industry: Far from working alone in a windowless lab somewhere, most chemists work in interdisciplinary teams with many other people. Chemists impact almost every aspect of modern life, playing a variety of roles from developing better materials for automobiles to designing new drugs to cure life-threatening diseases.
Here’s just a sampling of all the career possibilities in the chemistry field.
- Agricultural Chemist
- Computational Chemist
- Consumer Goods Developer
- Crime Lab Analyst
- Drug Discovery
- Environmental Assessment
- Environmental Engineer
- FDA/EPA Inspector
- Fire Protection Engineer
- Food Scientist
- Green Chemistry
- Laboratory Technician
- Materials Scientist
- Patent Lawyer
- Personal Care Product Development
- Pharmaceutical Chemistry
- Polymer Scientist
- Renewable Resource Specialist
- Research Chemist