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 (reload page for a new list of chemists)

  • 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!

  • Trevor Quast
    Chemistry & Anthropology double major

    Senior Laboratory Technologist @ DuPont

    One of Alma College’s values is “Critical Thinking”. In R&D, critical thinking is an important skill to have because of its use in everyday life in the lab, whether it is trying to solve why a reaction is going wrong or “how can we make the process better, more efficient, etc”. My Alma education and hands-on laboratory work has helped me have the courage to give valuable input in conversations, meetings, and trials.
  • 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.

  • Mercedez Morgan

    Chemical Lab Technician at Vertellus

    My Alma Education has helped me so much! When I graduated and was looking for a job the experiences as Alma helped to find out what field of chemistry I wanted to be involved in, more analytical and working with instruments directly, as well as helped me get the job! Alma provides a lot of growth and when I tell people where I graduated from they are always amazed!

  • 2017
    Chemistry and Physiology (IPHS)

    Fourth year medical student at Michigan State University

  • Jennifer Meloche
    Chemistry (math minor)
    Associate Professor of Science, Trine University
    My Alma education really helped me realize that graduate school and getting a Ph.D. was possible and necessary for my career path. I completed an undergraduate REU internship in the summer before my senior year and continued undergraduate research with Dr. Joel Dopke during my senior year. Those research experiences really helped prepare me for graduate school. Also, two classes in particular that were very impactful in my path were a spring term of advanced organic chemistry and the senior seminar class. Both of those classes really helped prepare me for graduate school, oral exams, and presentations. In addition to academics, I was able to play college tennis all four years at Alma and that taught me excellent time-management skills along with establishing a work-life balance. Overall, I received a very well-rounded education and really appreciated my time at Alma.
  • Scott May
    Chemistry (Mathematics minor)
    Lab Technician at Health Department of Northwest Michigan
  • 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.
  • Ike Patton

    Chemical Operator at American Chemical Solutions

    Alma helped show me how to be a well rounded person. As part of a fraternity, I was able to take away a sense of brotherhood and experiences I’ll never forget. The chemistry program taught me how to think better and communicate those thoughts well. Alma was an invaluable time of my life, and I’m incredibly thankful for it!

  • 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!

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.
Pharmacy, Forensic Science: There seems to be an endless list of career options for chemists.  Our majors often pursue careers in pharmacy and forensic science, each requiring specialized education beyond the bachelor’s degree.  Talk to your advisor or someone in the Department of Chemistry to learn more!

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/Forensics 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