How Do I Start a Career in Inorganic Chemistry?

Mary McMahon

A career in inorganic chemistry can begin with education in the field to develop theoretical knowledge that can be applied to entry-level positions. As chemists develop more experience in lab settings, with publication credits and other accomplishments to their names, they can acquire more seniority. Careers in inorganic chemistry may take several years to establish, and chemists need to keep up with trends and continuing education opportunities to ensure they can adapt with the industries they work in. This branch of chemistry can be applied in a wide range of settings, from ceramics manufacturing to mining.

Gaining experience in a lab setting is a key component of becoming an inorganic chemist.
Gaining experience in a lab setting is a key component of becoming an inorganic chemist.

Educationally, inorganic chemists typically have at least a bachelor’s degree in this or a related subject, and a master’s or doctorate can be preferred. Someone who plans on a career in inorganic chemistry should consider postgraduate work to develop additional skills as well as participate in original research. Publication credits and lab experience can be helpful when people enter the job market. These experiences can also sometimes lead directly to offers of employment in some cases.

As chemists gather experience in lab, gain publication credits, and have other experiences, they can acquire seniority.
As chemists gather experience in lab, gain publication credits, and have other experiences, they can acquire seniority.

For those interested in becoming professors of inorganic chemistry, postgraduate work is strongly recommended, as many colleges and universities require at least a master’s degree to teach. People who go all the way through postdoctorate work and fellowships can be in a better position for the best jobs. They also have an opportunity to participate in ongoing research in the field while educating inorganic chemists. Establishing tenure can take time and usually requires continuing to publish, presenting at conferences, and participating in other opportunities for career development.

Inorganic chemists often need advanced degrees.
Inorganic chemists often need advanced degrees.

People who want to work in the industry may want to consider internships while in school to establish a foothold that will lead to an inorganic chemistry career. After they graduate, they can apply for positions in labs and companies that interest them. They will have an opportunity to work with increasing independence as they develop experience and skills. Over time, they can become team leaders and may eventually be in a position to supervise a lab.

Inorganic chemists typically have a bachelor's degree in this or a related subject.
Inorganic chemists typically have a bachelor's degree in this or a related subject.

Government agencies can also be a venue for a career in inorganic chemistry. Graduates may need a master’s degree for many positions in this setting and can work their way up the career ladder by putting in years of experience. Employees who participate in research and development, take an active role in pursuing continuing education, and mentor other team members are often more likely to be considered for promotion to more challenging roles.

Lab experiments are performed by inorganic chemists.
Lab experiments are performed by inorganic chemists.

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