Fortunately, the applicability of a background in Chemistry is vast, resulting in myriad fields in which one may work. The sky is the limit! Chemists are well-suited for industrial, government, and academic positions. In addition, a degree in chemistry prepares you well for medical, dental, pharmacy, business and law school. A few examples of the industrial fields and possible jobs are:
- Agricultural Chemistry (testing the toxicity of herbicides at DuPont)
- Biotechnology (working with a team to develop microbial processes to clean up environmental pollution)
- Chemical Information (working as a scientific librarian or market researcher at a large manufacturing company, or for a company that publishes technical literature or journals)
- Environmental Chemistry (designing pollution abatement systems)
- Hazardous Waste Management (field sampling and testing for underground storage tank leakage at a remediation site)
- Journal Editing (oversee daily operations of the peer review process for submitted manuscripts; serve as the liaison between the scientific editors & the publisher)
- Material Science (developing new reinforced ceramics for aerospace applications or new Lycra spandex knits for sportswear)
- Medicinal Chemistry (carrying out basic research creating drugs to treat patients with high cholesterol, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease)
- Oil and Petroleum (working as a chemist at Amoco “fingerprinting” oil leaked in a spill; developing catalysts to improve petroleum fractionation processes).
- Patent attorney (obtains and enforces intellectual property rights on behalf of inventors or organizations. Chemists may tend to specialize in pharmaceutical patent law. Great salaries.)
- Polymer Chemistry (developing polymers such as the one used in transdermal patches like the nicotine patch).
- Sales/Marketing (working as a sales representative for Hewlett-Packard selling chromatographic instrumentation, carrying out market research for a chemical supply company such as J.T. Baker, or acting as a pharmaceutical sales representative selling medicines to local hospitals and doctors.)
For more information and additional career options see the links below:
American Chemical Society Career Information. Includes information about what chemists do, career options for chemists, and salaries. Specific job postings available.
JobWeb provides a broad overview of careers in chemistry as well as links to more specific information. “Chemistry Careers: Beyond Bunsen Burners”
General advice regarding careers in chemistry
Training in Green Chemistry Scientific American Article