What Can You Do With A Chemistry Degree?

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What can you do with a degree in chemistry? There are plenty of career paths you can explore with which you can apply what you learned in this type of physical science. Chemistry is the study of the interactions between energy and matter and what they are composed of. If you have a particular fancy for the periodic table of elements and observing entrancing chemical reactions, then perhaps you should delve into the field of chemistry.

Fields of Chemistry

As one of the main branches of science, the subject of chemistry can be further broken down into 5 individual fields of study.

Biochemistry – study of chemicals and their interactions when combined and within living organisms

Organic chemistry – study of the structure of and effects caused by carbon compounds; main elements studied include carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen; often used in the medical field

Inorganic chemistry – study of the structure behavior of compounds usually excluding the element carbon

Physical chemistry – study of physics within chemistry; theories and techniques applied to chemistry

Analytical chemistry – study of determining the type and amount of specific elements in a mixture or compound

How to Get a Chemistry Degree

Many higher education facilities offer chemistry programs that cover exactly what you’re looking for. It’s just a matter of finding the right ones. This section provides three schools that offer highly rated chemistry programs with educators dedicated to providing their students with the knowledge and experience necessary to succeed in whatever career paths they choose. The full list compiled by U.S. News can be found here.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) stands at the top of the list. Founded in 1861, this private research school has unique opportunities in both chemistry and chemical engineering. With top-of-the-line research labs and equipment in these fields and an overall student-faculty ratio of 8:1 for exceedingly valuable educational experiences, it’s no wonder thousands of students are itching to earn their ways into MIT.

Georgia Institute of Technology (GT) ranks in at number 6 on the U.S. News list of top schools with chemistry programs. This institute was founded in 1881, and its status as a public school means that its acceptance percentage is significantly higher than that of MIT–54.9% of applicants are accepted to GT, whereas only 8.9% are able to squeeze in at MIT. The chemistry department at GT offers courses for their chemistry major that help students gain knowledge into the worlds of forensics and pharmaceuticals in addition to biotechnology and nanoscience.

Established in 1848, University of Wisconsin–Madison sits on 936 beautiful acres located near Lake Mendota, and its chemistry program is one of the best in the country. With bachelors degree opportunities in both chemistry and biochemistry, the university requires students take courses in the 5 main fields of chemistry in addition to chemistry-related elective courses. Information about graduate programs can be found on the school website.

Careers in Chemistry

There are all sorts of interesting and unique career paths to choose from once you earn your degree in chemistry. Laboratories, offices, educational facilities…your options are open. Check out these examples of careers found in the field of chemistry.

Entry Level Careers in Chemistry

With a bachelors degree in chemistry, you will qualify for plenty of entry level positions that provide plenty of possibilities for promotions.

Entry Level Fine Arts Restorer

If you have a passion for the arts and you possess a high level of patience, then perhaps you should consider a career as a fine arts restorer. The level of work you perform often depends on the degree you possess. Restorers show a strong sense of confidence in their abilities and possess deep knowledge of chemistry and art history. Knowing what paint or other media to use for the restoration relies on this knowledge, as mixing certain types of paint may not produce the exact imitation you are depending on creating. This will lead to dissatisfied customers and distorted or destroyed artwork, so it is important to know the chemical properties of specific media in order to prevent these sorts of issues from occurring.

People who are in the business of restoring artwork do not have a set salary, as their income depends on not only the quality of the work they perform but the frequency in which they receive commissions. They can make under $24,000 or over $50,000 annually and often work independently or for museums and universities.

Crime Lab Technician

Shoot into the field of forensics as a crime lab technician, a position in which you can get right in on the action. Crime lab technicians not only analyze evidence found at crime scenes but find themselves at the actual scenes of the crimes on the hunt for any shard of evidence feasible for lab testing. Ability to use highly-developed laboratory equipment in order to perform said testing and analysis is required, as well as the ability to pay close attention to details that often go undetected.

Crime lab technicians are capable of earning a starting salary of $36,000 with the potential of earning over $80,000 once they have developed years of experience.

Chemist

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If you are interested in developing new products or improving processes by which products are created, you just might enjoy a job as a chemist. Chemists spend most of their time in laboratories studying and analyzing chemical reactions that effect quality of processes performed to create products like plastic soda bottles, for one. Qualities of successful chemists include the desire to learn and the ability to face failure in being optimistic that success is a mere test or two away. A bachelors degree is required, but performance of more detailed research and application can require a masters or even doctoral degree in chemistry.

Chemists can make around $50,000 or more annually, depending on education and experience levels.

Advanced Careers in Chemistry

If you achieve a masters degree or higher in chemistry, then you will find yourself facing choices between many other career paths in addition to those available to individuals with bachelor degrees in chemistry and/or related fields.

Clinical Toxicologist

Clinical toxicologists require a bachelors degree in either chemistry or biology and a masters or doctoral in a more specific field like toxicology or pharmacology in order to perform research and apply results to further the progress of their experiments. They spend much of their time in laboratories performing and supervising tests, but they can also defend evidence in court from time to time. Good communication skills are a must for this reason, as are patience and analytical skills.

Clinical toxicologists can earn anywhere from $46,000 to $100,000 a year.

Pharmacologist

Pharmacologists possess knowledge earned through a bachelors degree in chemistry or biochemistry or another related field and a doctorate in pharmacology or closely related field. They are the people who test and analyze improved or new pharmaceuticals on living organisms in order to determine accuracy of the drugs’ uses and any possible side effects from taking said pharmaceutical products.

Pharmacologists can earn anywhere from $41,000 to over $140,000 a year.

Food Chemist

Food chemists who devise and carry out their own experiments possess not only a bachelors degree in a related chemistry field (i.e., food chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, etc.) but a masters or even doctoral degree in a related field (i.e., medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, etc.). Other responsibilities may include supervising other chemists partaking in your experiments; and their main objective is to create newer, healthier food additives and preservatives.

Food chemists can earn an average of $64,000 annually.

Companies that Hire People with Chemistry Degrees

Jobs in the chemistry field can be found all over the world, and below you will find a short list of companies who often hire people with degrees in chemistry.

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics – located in Tarrytown, NY; electrical engineering company in energy and healthcare; hires positions for biochemists, process engineers, technical writers, etc.; jobs available globally

AMRestore – located in Glen Burnie, MD; expert restoration company for everything from artwork to carpets and cleaning out whole estates; hires art restorers among others

Thermo Fisher Scientific – Leesport, PA; scientific research assistance; hires chemists, research assistants, etc.

Abbvie Pharmaceuticals – organization insistent on improving health care; hires pharmacologists, chemists, etc.; jobs available globally

With a degree in chemistry, you will most likely find yourself spending plenty of time testing and analyzing processes and products and theories with advanced technology in labs on a regular basis to improve everyday living throughout the world. If your goal is to make a revolutionary breakthrough in the world of health or improve society’s views on art history or food preservatives, then dive into the world of chemistry and see what you can do.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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