What can I do with a chemistry major?

Chemistry is a practical field with exceptional job prospects; click on any profile name to read more. 

Chemistry Alumni

  • Spenser Congram, ?19
    Chemistry and Environmental Science

    Research Assistant II in the Biomass Analytics Facility of the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center

    My Alma education gave me unique hands-on experience that has allowed me to excel in my current field. Their chemistry program allowed me to work directly with the same analytical instruments that I use today, providing me a leg up in the competitive STEM job market. Balancing the chemistry and environmental programs further offered me insight in applying the theoretical and technical chemistry knowledge to real-world problems. Lastly, my independent research with Dr. Strait gave me perhaps the most useful tools for success: real-world experience performing real-world research. This independent research allowed me to perform unique experiments, develop experimental methods, collaborate with experts from different institutions, and communicate my research to both the scientific community and the local community.

  • Kirstyn Cotton

    Attending Wayne State’s Law school

    My Alma education shaped my path to law school because my professors at Alma pushed me to study a major that would help me stand out when applying to law school.
  • Cam Ditmar
    Chemistry and IPHS double major

    Anesthesiologist Assistant

    My Alma Education gave me the chemistry and pre-medical background to help me get into and succeed in Anesthesiologist Assistant school. I couldn’t have done it without you!
  • Alison Fields
    Pharmacy Intern and Pharmacy Student

    My Alma Education helped me to learn how to think critically and analyze data. This has been important both in research, and in providing care for patients.

  • Naria

    Forensic Scientist

    The education I received at Alma is directly related to where I am now. The direct exposure I had to different instrumentation and my independent research alongside Dr. Melissa Strait gave me an advantage when it came to applying for graduate programs and jobs. I was able to excel in my graduate program and graduate with honors because of the well-rounded education I received at Alma College, and I still utilize everything I’ve learned then to this day!

  • Cassie Freeman
    Chemistry (math/biology double minor)

    Quality Control Technician at Kalsec

    My Alma education helped me discover my love for chemistry and drove me toward my current career path within industry. The courses I took have lead me to think critically and have pushed me to do things out of my comfort zone. I also have gained leadership skills and confidence for my personal and professional success.

  • Abigail Grout
    Chemistry (Mathematics minor)

    Wet Chemistry Technician for ALS Environmental USA

    Instrumental Analysis was one of the most important classes I ever took at Alma College. All the chemical laboratory skills I learned in that class are vital for my laboratory job. When I was job hunting, many interviewers that I talked to were impressed by the variety of instruments I had experience with thanks to that class. Working as a Chemistry Lab Teacher’s Assistant and learning important safety skills also impressed my laboratory manager, as safety is an important aspect of my work environment at my current job.

  • Olivia Harkins
    Double major: Chemistry and Art & Design
    Clinical Laboratory Technician at Lynxdx, a covid testing facility accredited by the College of American Pathologists

    My Alma Education helped me prepare for the “real world”. As a collegiate athlete at Alma, I was able to excel in learning how to balance work, life, and leisure. As I will be pursuing graduate school to become a Pathologist Assistant, Alma helped me create a notable resume through a liberal arts education, numerous work and volunteer opportunities, and fantastic professors whom I use as references. Both peers and superiors at Alma College help you achieve your full potential!

  • Charley Hengesbach

    Research chemist for MSU Bioeconomy Institute

    My Alma education, I believe, directly corresponded to me getting this internship and now this job. Since I was able to participate in research at Alma, that experience is what made me a good candidate for the internship at MSU. Also, there have been multiple people from Alma that have done internships at this MSU Holland location, and it’s very important coming from an institution that has a good track record in the workplace.
  • 2017
    Chemistry and Physiology (IPHS)

    Fourth year medical student at Michigan State University

Salary and Career Options

Salaries depend on degree earned and level of experience. Chemists with a BS degree can expect to earn between $60,000 and $90,000; with an MS or Ph.D., this number can jump to between $90,000 and $120,000.  Entry-level chemists should expect to make less, to start. This annual employment survey, conducted by the ACS, shows unemployment is down and salaries are holding steady. 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. BS) 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 Food Scientist Pharmacist
Computational Chemist Geologist Physician
Consumer Goods Developer Green Chemistry Polymer Scientist
Crime Lab Analyst Lawyer  Professor
Dentist Laboratory Technician Radiologist
Drug Discovery Materials Scientist Renewable Resource Specialist
Environmental Assessment Microbiologist Research Chemist
Environmental Engineer Perfumer/Flavorist Teacher
FDA/EPA Inspector Personal Care Product Development Toxicologist
Fire Protection Engineer Pharmaceutical Chemistry Veterinarian