A degree in chemistry opens the door to a wide range of rewarding career opportunities. In fact, the unemployment rate among chemists is generally below the national average.

About half of all chemists work in research. Others work in educational settings and in government. A small percentage are employed with nonprofit charities or research foundations.

Chemists with bachelor’s degrees may manage research projects or laboratories. Others teach chemistry at private schools or (with certification) in public schools.

Some chemistry majors augment their career opportunities with a master’s degree in chemistry or in another field, such as an MBA. Master’s-level chemists are eligible for higher-level positions in management or pure applied chemistry, and they are sometimes employed in entry-level teaching positions in colleges or universities.

Doctoral-level chemists can serve as primary researchers on grants, tenured professors at colleges, heads of divisions in corporations and similar top-level positions.

The Path to Success

Students who wish to succeed in chemistry should strive for a comprehensive undergraduate education. It is important to develop a knowledge base of mathematics and the sciences (not just chemistry). Taking courses in speech, the arts, literature and other humanities is also helpful.

Laboratory experience offers insights into what it means to be a chemist. In addition to required laboratory sections, it is a good idea to engage in research, either independently or by assisting a faculty member with a professional project.

In addition, summer employment and internship opportunities are a good way for students to meet chemists working in a variety of settings so they can decide where their interests lie.

More Information

American Chemical Society: Careers in Chemistry
Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning: Careers in Chemistry