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How Can I Use A Chemistry Degree in the Future?

For high school students that enjoyed studying scientific subjects at the high school level, earning a chemistry degree in college could be a natural step. A bachelor's degree in chemistry takes roughly four years to complete, and it might include courses such as general chemistry, biochemistry, quantitative analysis and instrumental methods.

After completing your degree through a traditional campus program or an accredited online college, you will most likely want to find full-time employment within the field. Here are just some of the most common ways to utilize your degree and secure a relevant and fulfilling career in chemistry.

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Median Pay:   $63,575 per year | $31 per hour
Entry-Level Education:   Doctoral or professional degree
Work Experience:   None
Number of Jobs, 2014:   183,000

Liberal Arts Occupations:

  • Chemistry teachers, postsecondary$73,080
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  • English language and literature teachers, postsecondary$60,160
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Theoretical Chemists

This type of chemist is someone who predicts what will happen during a chemical reaction. Some chemical experiments can have significant results on the environment and the safety of the scientists, so theoretical chemists perform extensive calculations based on existing knowledge in order to predict the outcome of the experiment before it happens.

Theoretical chemistry relies strongly on math skills, as scientists need to complete long equations based on the composition of various elements or materials. If you prefer solitary work and enjoy the theoretical side of chemistry, then this career might be the right fit for you. Like the other careers on this list, theoretical chemists can start their education with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.

Natural Sciences Managers

If you have a strong interest in the natural sciences, such as chemistry, as well as strong leadership abilities, then a career as a natural sciences manager may be the best fit for your future. Individuals employed in this position tend to work in supervisory positions, and they manage the work of scientists completing larger projects.

In research and development, natural sciences managers may delegate tasks to multiple scientists in the field in order to collect relevant data for large-scale projects. This is primarily an office job, rather than a field job, and it tends to require five years of field experience before applicants are eligible for hire.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for natural sciences managers is $115,740 per year, which is one of the most lucrative positions that chemists can secure with just a bachelor's degree. Job outlook for the field is slower than average, with just a 6 percent increase over the next decade.

However, that still results in an additional 2,900 jobs that will be created in less than 10 years, so there are still plenty of opportunities for hire among new chemistry graduates.

Organic Chemists

This type of chemist is one that studies specifically natural materials made up of carbon. By studying the structures and properties of carbon-based molecules, organic chemists can determine what the various uses are of natural materials.

Organic chemists are often the people responsible for realizing that certain plant leaves can serve as natural insecticides, or that specific insects have medicinal properties that could benefit humans. In this position, some fieldwork may be required, especially if the organic chemists need to collect natural materials for their experiments.

However, the majority of the work takes place in an office or a laboratory. The predicted rate of job growth for organic chemists is just 6 percent, according to the BLS. While this is still positive growth, it is slower than average for occupations in the United States.

Biochemists

The study of biochemistry is essentially determining how various cell structures and living things interact with one another as well as additional elements in the ecosystem. Rather than collecting leaves for specimens, biochemists work on an exceptionally small scale and see interactions occur under a microscope rather than with the naked eye.

Much of the work of biochemists is medical in nature, and a sample of the potential projects for employees in the field might include using chemical enzymes to simulate RNA production, studying the effects of cancer-treatment drugs on proteins in the human body or determining how certain fuels affect crop growth and development.

Many biochemists pursue an advanced education at the graduate level in order to secure the top positions in the field, but earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry is a wonderful place to start. On average, biochemists in the United States can expect to earn median salaries of $81,480.

Due to its integral role in health care, biochemistry is also one of the fastest-growing fields, with a predicted 19 percent increase in job demand by 2022, according to the BLS.

Chemical Engineers

One of the most popular career fields in chemistry is that of chemical engineering. This career is the process of solving engineering problems through the use of chemical knowledge. For example, a food manufacturing company may want to reduce the amount of fat in one of their best-selling items, but they need to still create a taste that customers crave.

A chemical engineer in food science could then experiment with different combinations of molecules to recreate the mouth feel of a high-fat item. Chemical engineers might also work to create safer environments for scientists handling dangerous chemicals or even in a factory in order to create stronger synthetic plastics using polymers.

The average pay for chemical engineers is $94,350, according to the BLS, with the highest wages going to those working in petroleum and coal manufacturing.

With a chemistry degree, there are dozens of potential careers available to graduates. Along with the employment positions already listed, additional choices include analytical chemists, chemistry teachers, medicinal chemists andmany others.

Since chemistry degrees are available online as well as through traditional college campuses, it is possible for even the busiest individuals to pursue an advanced education and a new career in the scientific world.