Top 10 Chemistry Jobs
If you have a particular interest in or aptitude for chemistry, or if you hold or are currently working towards a chemistry degree, you may wish to find out about potential careers in the industry. Chemistry jobs vary in nature, salary, and required qualifications; the information and list below is intended to help you to judge the right chemistry career for you.
- Analytical Chemist
- Chemical Engineer
- Chemistry Teacher
- Forensic Scientist
- Hazardous Waste Chemist
- Materials Scientist
- Water Chemist
Analytical chemists use their skills and expertise to analyse substances, identify what components are present and in what quantities, as well how these components may behave and react with one another. This can include the analysis of drugs, food and other products to determine effectiveness, quality and to ensure they are safe for human consumption or use.
- Analytical Chemistry - American Chemical Society (US)
- Analytical Chemist - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Chemical engineers are involved the the design and development of new products from raw materials. They use their knowledge of chemical properties and reactions to transform materials from one state to another, for example making plastic from oil. Chemical engineers may work in almost any industry, assisting in the production of innovative, high-end products such as ultra-strong fabrics or biocompatible implants.
- Chemical Engineering - American Chemical Society (US)
- Chemical Engineer - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Chemistry teachers work in schools passing on their knowledge of chemistry to the next generation, following a set curriculum and helping their students to pass and excel in their school examinations. As well as a degree or equivalent qualification in chemistry, you may also require a teaching qualification (such as a PGCE in the UK) in order to become a chemistry teacher.
- High School Chemistry Teacher - American Chemical Society (US)
- Secondary School Teacher - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Forensic scientists search for and analyse forensic materials found at crime scenes, for example blood and other bodily fluids, hair, or non-biological substances such as paint. They are then able to present this evidence for use in legal investigations and courts of law. Forensic scientists may sometimes be called in to speak in court as experts in their field, to explain the evidence to the jury.
- Forensic Chemistry - American Chemical Society (US)
- Forensic Scientist - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Geochemists study the physical and chemical properties of the Earth, particularly rocks and minerals. They use their knowledge to determine the make-up and distribution of rock and mineral components, and how these may affect the soil and water systems in which they are found. Geochemists may help to identify oil drill sites, improve water quality or deternine how best to remove hazardous waste.
Hazardous Waste Chemist
Hazardous waste chemists deal with the management and safe relocation of hazardous materials (hence the common abbreviation ‘hazmat’). They use their expertise to identify harmful chemical components in the air, water or soil, evaluate the danger they present and coordinate their removal and containment.
- Hazardous Waste Management - American Chemical Society (US)
- Waste Management Officer - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Materials scientists study man-made and natural substances to determine their properties, composition and how they could be transformed or combined to increase effectiveness or create new materials. By analysing and experimenting with existing materials, materials scientists are able to enhance the way they are used and create new materials to better serve humanity’s needs.
- Materials Science - American Chemical Society (US)
- Materials Engineer - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Pharmacologists undertake the development and testing of drugs, analysing how they interact with biological systems. This is essential for ensuring that drugs are effective and safe for human use, and may involve the testing of drugs on animals or on human volunteers. Pharmacology roles are often lab-based and may involve non-standard hours in order to monitor ongoing experiments.
- Pharmacologist: Job Description & Career Information - Study.com (US)
- Pharmacologist - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Toxicologists, like pharmacologists, may study the effects of drugs on biological systems but also look at the effects of other substances, both natural and man-made. They work with and develop methodologies for determining harmful effects of substances, as well as how to judge correct dosages and therefore avoid them. As with pharmacology, toxicology roles are often lab-based and involve the monitoring of experiments and interpretation of results.
Water chemists, as the name suggests, are concerned with analysing and maintaining the quality and condition of water, essential for human life on Earth. This is a highly interdisciplinary field, so as well as chemistry you may also need knowledge of linked fields such as microbiology and geology. You may find similar roles under a variety of names, for example hydrologist or hydrogeologist.
- Water Chemistry - American Chemical Society (US)
- Water Quality Scientist - Graduate Prospects Ltd. (UK)
Most of the chemistry jobs listed above will require you to have some level of qualification in chemistry, whether that’s a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree or PhD. Some roles you may be able to pursue with a qualification in a related field, for example biology, environmental science or pharmacology.
Many chemistry jobs are lab-based, though not all - a number of roles may include field work, office work, or even teaching in a school, university or other academic environment. More senior roles can involve people management, liaison with businesses and management of departments and budgets.
Please note that our is by no means exhaustive; there are many more potential chemistry jobs and careers out there. The 10 jobs covered here represent a range of chemistry roles, but there are many other avenues to explore and the resources below will help you with further research.
- Chemistry Careers - American Chemical Society
- Careers - Royal Society of Chemistry
- What can I do with a chemistry degree? - Graduate Prospects Ltd.
- What can you do with a chemistry degree? - Times Higher Education