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Chemistry Department


WHAT DOES A CHEMIST DO?

Chemistry is the central science and it significantly influences a range of endeavors. Chemists pursue all kinds of careers. Some discover new concepts and laws about matter and the universe; others apply chemistry to a range of industrial and societal needs. They use their problem-solving skills as laboratory practitioners, managers, corporate officers, and entrepreneurs in industrial firms and governmental agencies. Chemists are owners of companies. Chemists teach in high schools, two- and four-year colleges and universities, and corporate training centers. Chemists work for large multinational companies as well as small companies. Some are specialized in their practice of chemistry, while others apply it in an interdisciplinary fashion. Individuals who pursue a chemical education discover that it provides a solid background for careers that can grow and change as the individual changes or as the market place changes. If anything characterizes the career of a chemist, it is change. 

A chemistry degree is a powerful springboard, which can launch you into a fascinating and rewarding career. A chemistry graduate is prepared for immediate employment. A bachelor's level graduate in chemistry is able to assume a variety of positions in industry, government, or academia. Opportunities are also available to those who combine their undergraduate chemistry degree with advanced studies in other fields. The more obvious positions for which a background in chemistry is important are those in chemical education, which may or may not include research at the undergraduate level, or laboratory research in the chemical industry and government. Those with a significant knowledge of chemistry are also employed in related professions, such as molecular biology and biotechnology, materials science, forensic science, hazardous waste management, textile science, or information management. While laboratory research is the traditional career of chemists in industry, not all chemists working in industry are active researchers. Some chemists do analyses and testing; some do research outside of the laboratory. Other chemists are employed as executives who manage production facilities, businesses, research groups, or entire laboratories. A chemistry degree can also lead to work in areas such as law, sales, marketing, consulting, purchasing, health and safety, and environmental science.

Because there are a multitude of applications of chemical principles and many specialties within the field of chemistry, there are many types of chemists. Students should become familiar with career options available to chemists and consider how to prepare for a future in chemistry. Proper preparation is an important factor in improving success in finding the best first job, and includes refining a general interest in chemistry into specific education and career objectives and planning how to achieve career goals. This list of career areas is by no means exhaustive; however, it presents options available to those who obtain degrees in the chemical sciences. The following list represents a sample of career areas: Agricultural Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Catalysis, Chemical Education, Chemical Engineering, Chemical Information, Chemical Sales and Marketing, Chemical Technology, Colloid and Surface Chemistry, Consulting, Consumer Products, Environmental Chemistry, Food and Flavor Chemistry, Forensic Chemistry, Geochemistry, Hazardous Waste Management, Inorganic Chemistry, Materials Science, medicinal Chemistry, Oil and Petroleum Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Physical Chemistry, Polymer Chemistry, Pulp and Paper Chemistry, R&D Management, Science Writing, Textile Chemistry and Water Chemistry.