Inorganic Chemistry

Inorganic chemistry explores the composition and changes of a mineral's origin. Read on to learn more about this subject, including educational programs, career options, employment prospects and potential earnings in this field.

Is Inorganic Chemistry For Me?

Career Overview

Inorganic chemistry is the scientific study of the reactions and properties of mineral-based compounds. Inorganic compounds are those chemical compounds without carbon-hydrogen bonds, which includes acids, alkalis, salts, catalysts and superconductors. The field of inorganic chemistry deals with the study of ionic compounds, electrochemistry, transition metals, organometallic chemistry, acid-base reactions and bioinorganic chemistry.

Employment Options

With a background in inorganic chemistry, you may be able to pursue a career as a science technician, working with chemists or chemical engineers. Working in this field, you may be responsible for collecting and analyzing samples of a wide range of chemicals, maintaining laboratory equipment and assisting in major research projects. You can also choose to pursue a graduate or doctoral degree to qualify for work as a chemistry professor or research scientist.

As a graduate with inorganic chemistry training, you'll be prepared to seek work in a variety of positions in chemical research, as well as quality assurance, environmental assessment and forensic science. You may find work at a pharmaceutical company, university, medical facility or research center.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of chemical technicians over the 2012-2022 decade will increase by 9% (www.bls.gov). Chemists and material scientists should experience employment growth of 6% during that same period. In May 2012, the BLS estimated that chemists earned a median annual salary of $71,770. Chemical technicians received $42,920 in median wages.

How Can I Work in Inorganic Chemistry?

Education Requirements

Some entry-level positions, such as those of science technicians, may be obtained with a bachelor's degree, but most research positions in inorganic chemistry require graduate training. Although specific degree programs in inorganic chemistry are not generally available, you can pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in chemistry with a specialization in inorganic chemistry.

Graduate Programs

At the graduate level, you can pursue a Master of Science (M.S.) in Chemistry or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Chemistry with a concentration in inorganic chemistry, both of which require you to have obtained at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry or a related field. Coursework includes fundamentals of inorganic chemistry, green chemistry, chemical toxicology, electrochemical methods, analytical spectroscopy and advanced inorganic chemistry.

In an M.S. program, you'll typically have the option of completing the degree with or without a master's thesis, which is based off original research conducted by you. You may also have the opportunity or even be required to apply for a teaching assistantship in an undergraduate chemistry course.

In a Ph.D. program, you'll have many more requirements, including a seminar presentation in a topic relating to inorganic chemistry, completion of written and oral exams and an independently researched doctoral dissertation. Several labs, equipment and other resources can be used in this research, including mass spectrometers, laser-flash photolysis systems and high-speed computer facilities.

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