Chemistry is a science that focuses on the composition and reactions of physical matter. Read on to learn more about educational requirements and employment opportunities for chemists, chemical lab technicians and chemistry teachers.
Are Chemistry Sciences for Me?
If you're good with math and science and would like to work in a laboratory setting, then you might want to consider a career in the chemistry sciences. Areas of specialization include inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and biochemistry. In general, chemists analyze the internal structure and composition of substances, and find ways to manipulate them, such as combining two elements into a new type of substance. Due to the different fields that involve the chemistry sciences, including medicine and biology, you may choose to focus your career on a particular specialty, such as chemical or food production, pharmaceuticals, healthcare or the environment; a position in education might also be an option.
Employment and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for chemists were expected to increase by a slower-than-average rate nationwide from 2012-2022, while an average growth in jobs was projected for chemical technicians. However, biochemists and biophysicists can look forward to a faster-than-average increase in opportunities of 19% during the same period. Competition for jobs is expected to be strong and may be dependent upon federal funding. Graduates of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program who have an understanding of multiple areas, postdoctoral experience and published research may have an easier time obtaining a job as a biochemist or chemist.
As reported by the BLS in May 2013, biochemists had an average annual income of $91,640, while chemists earned an average of $77,740 a year. In the same month, the average annual salary for chemistry professors was $83,330, while chemical technicians earned $46,590 (www.bls.gov).
How Can I Work in Chemistry Sciences?
Educational Options and Requirements
A postsecondary education is essential for pursuing a career in chemistry. For example, if you wish to become a chemical lab technician, you may want to consider completing a certificate or an associate's degree in chemical technical training, chemical technology or chemical processes. If you hope to become a chemist, you might want to consider a degree in chemistry or biochemistry.
A bachelor's degree program in chemistry may qualify you for entry-level jobs at production facilities, research groups and laboratories. It could also provide you with the academic background you need to become a high school chemistry teacher, as long as you fulfill any additional certification, course or student teaching requirements.
A graduate program may open the door to a position as a research chemist in either the private or public sector; a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chemistry will most likely be required to teach at the college or university level.