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What Can You Do With A Chemistry Degree? Chemistry Career Prospects

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You’re here because you’re interested in studying chemistry. But you’re unsure if it’s worth the effort. What if chemistry is too hard? Is it even worth pursuing career-wise? You want to know because time and money are resources too precious to waste. 

If you have these worries bouncing around your head, you’ve come to the right place. Do you know The Guardian reported that the number of UK chemistry students dropped to more than 20% over the past three years? This news caused great alarm to business leaders. Why? 

Because they need chemistry graduates to run UK’s chemistry industry which is worth more than £50bn a year!

If you want an insight into studying chemistry at university level, a chemistry summer school is a great way to do that. Read more to discover the top 5 careers, average salaries, and whether you should consider enrolling in further study.

Is A Chemistry Degree Hard?

Yes, it is. In fact, it’s one of the reasons why chemistry is such a famous degree. It poses a fierce challenge that daring students like yourself would like to undertake (and come out victorious!). And check out our guide on the best UK university for Chemistry if you’re keen on studying the discipline at university.

Also, fun fact. Do you know that chemistry is the “central science?” It’s the backbone of modern science as we know it today!

Why is chemistry degree hard? Because of its sheer complexity. Remember that there are different sub-disciplines of chemistry. Analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, and physical chemistry are some of the few examples. Can you name more?

If you take even just one sub-discipline, say organic chemistry, you’d be blown away by its vastness. And an infinite number of reactions to marvel at! Imagine how many basic chemicals you’ll have to familiarise yourself with. 

Does it mean you’ll have to throw in the towel and surrender? No, not at all! As much as chemistry is a challenging degree to study, its rewards are tremendous.

Do Chemistry Majors Make Good Money?

Yes! Do you know that the Royal Society of Chemistry’s 2021 Pay & Reward survey shows its member-respondents enjoy a median salary of £46,700? No wonder 70% of the survey respondents affirm they feel secure in their current job! 

The threshold to graduating with a chemistry degree is a fierce challenge. But afterwards comes a high level of job security and stability. 

Is Major Chemicals A Good Career Path?

Yes, major chemicals are a good career path because they offer good money and job security. If you’re passionate about the common good, you’d be happy to know that chemistry greatly contributes to society. 

As of 2019, professionals working in the chemical industry contributed £87 billion to UK GDP.

Is Chemistry A Useful Degree?

It’s a huge yes! Why? Because chemists are one of the most sought-after graduates in the UK. Even when unemployment is high, a chemistry degree gives you an advantage. 

Remember how chemistry is the central science? That means that having a chemistry degree allows you to explore careers in other scientific fields. 

Are you interested in studying biochemistry? If you are, our career options for biochemistry graduates may be worth checking out.

What Are The Top 5 Chemistry Careers?

1. Analytical Chemist

National Average Base Salary: $59,000

An analytical chemist analyses substances to determine their chemical composition. They also study how the materials behave when they interact with each other. You can imagine that most of an analytical chemist’s work is in the laboratory. 

Analytical chemists are vital members of the scientific community. How so? By conducting experiments that often serve as the basis for other research work. Making possible the development of new products across industries. 

2. Synthetic Chemist

National Average Base Salary: $67,000

Synthetic chemists create new compounds. They develop methods to create new materials or improve existing ones. These materials are used for pharmaceuticals, energy use, and research.

It’s easy to see how synthetic chemists increase the standard of living for humanity. They are among the pillars of innovation today. And you, too, can be a part of that forward leap!

3. Quality Control Chemist

National Average Base Salary: $67,000

So far, you’ve learned of chemists who contribute to developing new products. How about ensuring that they are safe for consumers? This is where quality control chemists enter the picture. They test samples throughout the manufacturing process.

You can find quality control chemists in many industries, including pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and cosmetics. Because of them, you can trust your products are safe for use.

4. Organic Chemist

National Average Base Salary: $67,000 

Organic chemistry is the study of carbon compounds. Gues what organic chemists do? You guessed right! They create and improve commercial products containing carbon compounds, ranging from shampoo and plastic to food and drugs. 

They spend most of their time working in the laboratory, reading the latest findings and conducting tests and research.

5. Forensic Scientist

National Average Base Salary: $68,200

Forensic scientists play a crucial role in bringing criminals to justice. They gather and analyse evidence and then present their findings in court. Evidence samples include body fluids, hair, clothing, and glass.

Do you want to become a forensic scientist? You can choose to specialise either in laboratory examination or crime scene investigation.

What Is The Highest Paying Job In Chemistry?

The highest paying job in chemistry is Forensic Scientist. As mentioned above, it has a national average base salary of $68,200. 

Some of the most common employers of forensic scientists are government agencies such as the NHS, the Ministry of Defence, and police support departments.

What Jobs Can You Get With An Undergraduate Chemistry Degree?

Having an undergraduate chemistry degree can give you access to entry-level positions. As a beginner, you’ll often start as a lab or research assistant. If you’re part of a quality control team, you’ll be under the supervision of senior quality control chemists.

You can also work in chemistry-related industries as part of the sales and marketing team. Becoming a chemistry teacher of lower education is another option you can consider.

If you want to participate in one of the top chemistry careers, you will need to enrol in further study to get a master’s or doctorate in your chosen chemistry field. Gaining sufficient experience is also a must

Further Study

It’s a popular practice for bachelor in chemistry graduates to proceed to further study. A postgraduate degree will deepen your knowledge of the subject and enable you to specialize in an area of interest. 

A professional qualification will make you more attractive to employers and open up senior positions. With greater education comes better job opportunities and higher pay. Enrolling in further study is worth considering if you’re looking to further your career in chemistry.

Skills You Will Develop

Studying chemistry will help you develop crucial skills that will help you succeed in your chemistry career. Some of these skills are “transferable.” You can use them if you choose jobs unrelated to chemistry. 

  • Analysis and problem solving – necessary for efficiency in the field or laboratory
  • Working in a laboratory – to carry out proper scientific procedures
  • Numerical and data analysis – required to interpret laboratory/research results
  • IT – to maximise the use of laboratory equipment and computer software to analyse results
  • Organisation skills – to record and manage data according to scientific standards
  • Communication – to explain results the audience can understand 
  • Science writing – is essential when writing research journals and articles
  • Teamwork – needed for efficient collaboration with colleagues.

Work And Placements

Gaining experience will give you a much-needed edge to stand out in the job market. Do you want to enrol in further studies? Then work, and placements will help you figure out which chemistry field you enjoy. Otherwise, how will you know which chemistry sub-discipline you would want to specialise in? 

The first option for work and placements is laboratory work during your undergraduate study. Most schools will require you to complete a final thesis to complete your studies. That is a golden opportunity to gain experience.

If you want more, try volunteering at:

  • Government agencies
  • Pharmaceutical industries
  • Private manufacturing companies
  • Research universities

Don’t be afraid to reach out. Or you’ll never know the opportunities waiting for you!

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