Why Choose a Career in Chemistry?

Jessica Clifton

by Jessica Clifton

19th June 2020

With all the career options available, you probably already have various choices that pique your interest. However, it’s important to know what you want from your career. Practicality and stability? Excitement? Being able to make new discoveries and push the boundaries of human knowledge? Helping people and our planet? A career in chemistry can offer all this, and more.

Why choose chemistry as a career?

Simply defined as the study of matter with its properties, interactions with each other as well as with energy, forms, and compositions, chemistry is indeed an interdisciplinary scientific field.

Having a degree in chemistry could means you’ll have options in all sorts of different work fields, depending on your expertise, experience, and academic background. In fact, employment opportunities for material scientists and chemists are expected to grow 4% over the ten years from 2018. Those with advanced degrees in chemistry are expected to have more stable careers, and even distinct privileges.

Is chemistry a good career?

A career in chemistry has much to offer. What sets chemistry apart from other sciences is its applicability to many different industries. If you’re looking for a flexible scientific field, chemistry fits the bill. But as a career, why choose it at all?

Let’s have a quick look at the reasons why:

  • A career in chemistry interacts with other disciplines

Ranging from education, medicine, engineering, space science, agriculture, fashion, ecology, data analytics, and others, chemistry overlaps many industries and areas of science.

  • A career in chemistry is among the highest paying sectors of science-related jobs

This might be an important reason to take up a career in chemistry. Based on a 2017 salary survey by the Science Recruitment Group (SRG) in the UK, all of the top six highest paying industries hire people with expertise in chemistry. The average salary in these science sectors is 25% higher than the national average salary (£30,350 in 2019).

  • A career in chemistry will always be sought-after, even in the distant future

Given that so many different fields interact with chemistry in one way or another, chemistry expertise is something that will always be required, because almost every aspect of living in society is related with chemical processes. It even has massive applications in future technologies such as robotics.

What careers and jobs require chemistry?

The industries previously mentioned require and education and/or experience in chemistry, and of course there are specific job opportunities as well. These nine in-demand roles could be yours if your choose a chemistry as a career:

  1. Academic instructors and professors – There wouldn’t be any chemistry degree holders if there were no chemistry teachers. The education sector career choice for those who have studied chemistry or worked in a chemistry field.
  2. Researchers – Private and publicly funded scientific research has doubled almost every decade since the Second World War. Given how the information age makes society hungry for more knowledge and technological advancements, it’s no surprise that there’s such a desire for credible research. In turn, this increases the demand for researchers across the globe.
  3. Chemical engineers – Chemical engineers create and recreate products from raw materials using their expertise on manipulating chemicals to develop a desired output. You’ll usually find chemical engineers in industries that produce fabrics, polymers, liquefied cleaning materials, soaps, detergents, and the like.
  4. Analytical chemists – When it comes to the accurate analysis of substances and resulting compounds, you need analytical chemists. One aspect of this role is the careful identification of how components in commercial chemicals react in certain environments, quantities, and settings – checking if they are safe for humans and the environment.
  5. Forensic scientists – Forensic scientists are highly trained in assessing forensic materials found in various settings, for example, crime scenes. Biological or non-biological samples can have their chemical traces analysed for legal investigations, with forensic experts often being called to testify in court.
  6. Material scientists – Material scientists develop materials by modifying and identifying chemical compositions to be transformed for various purposes. They experiment with different substances to form newer products that might perhaps be the key to addressing gaps in cost-effective productions.
  7. Pharmacologists – Before medical drugs are prescribed and administered to the public, they need to be rigorously tested. Pharmacologists ensure the safe development of new drugs by analysing their biochemical interactions with humans or other organisms. They usually work in a laboratory to monitor standardised drug processing through continuous trials and experiments.
  8. Toxicologists – Understanding how particular chemical substances and compounds are harmful to humans and at what amount, frequency, and exposure, requires a deep understanding of chemistry. While pharmacologists are more concerned with the effective management of medical drugs, toxicologists  focus more on the toxicity of chemical substances, whether they’re of medical use or not.
  9. Water chemists or hydrologists/hydrogeologists – Water chemists are much in demand as every organism, especially humans, needs constant access to water. They are tasked with constantly monitoring the quality of water sources, their processing for human and animal consumption, their safety, availability, and other conditions. Water chemists are expected to have an intersectional understanding with other science fields, such as microbiology.
Chemical engineers create new products from raw materials

Chemical engineers create new products from raw materials

Lots of other career opportunities are available for those of you with a chemistry education and background, in fields such as:

A career in chemistry may involve work in hazardous waste management

A career in chemistry may involve work in hazardous waste management

  • Chemical information management
  • Chemical industry
  • Formulation chemistry
  • Geochemistry
  • Applied research and product development

And even though we’ve mentioned a lot of industries and career opportunities, we certainly haven’t exhausted them all. But choosing a career in chemistry can be more than a scientific endeavour, you can have a lasting impact on society for future generations. Who could turn that down? 

Find out more in our careers in chemistry resources hub.


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