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. The most recent 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. 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