What Are the Different Types of Chemistry Career Opportunities?

Daniel Liden

An individual who holds an advanced degree in chemistry can pursue many different types of chemistry career opportunities in industry, academia, medicine, and other settings. Some chemists are employed by companies that produce chemical products, such as cleaning solvents, flavoring additives, batteries, or fuels. Others may pursue chemistry career opportunities in academia, often splitting their time between laboratory research and teaching chemistry classes to university students. Still others may find that their chemistry expertise qualifies them for work in sales, research and development, or management in a company that does chemistry-related work. In any of these fields, a chemist can end up focusing on analytic, organic, or materials chemistry, or on any of a wide range of other chemistry specializations.

Chemists can find career opportunities in industrial, commercial and pharmaceutical settings.
Chemists can find career opportunities in industrial, commercial and pharmaceutical settings.

Many academic chemistry career opportunities allow chemists to pursue their own research projects and teach university students. Though this is an appealing career option for many chemists, academic chemistry career opportunities can be difficult to find, and there is often a great deal of competition for a limited number of positions. Landing an academic position in chemistry generally requires good academic credentials and extensive research experience at the post-graduate level. It is also generally important for the chemist to have some published research articles in his name to demonstrate his competence and experience in his particular area of chemistry.

Some chemists focus on laboratory research while others choose careers outside the lab.
Some chemists focus on laboratory research while others choose careers outside the lab.

Other chemists may find chemistry career opportunities in industrial, commercial, or pharmaceutical settings. In such settings, a chemist may work to develop new chemical products; develop synthetic materials, such as those used for some clothing and insulation; or attempt to develop components of new drugs. Chemistry career opportunities in such settings may involve research, monitoring and testing of established processes, or even sales or management. Such positions often offer many opportunities for career advancement, so an individual who starts out as a researcher may end up leading a group of researchers or entering company management. Such careers may also provide one with the knowledge and experience necessary for independent consulting work.

Chemistry career opportunities also exist in government, military, technology, and environmental settings. Governments employ chemists for a wide range of different research projects for public health, military, and other purposes. Many modern technologies make use of components developed through the application of advanced principles in chemistry, including batteries, semiconductors, and superconductors. Chemistry career opportunities in environmental chemistry are particularly good for those who are concerned with the environment, as they mostly involve analyzing and attempting to correct the negative effects of mankind on the natural environment.

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