Chemistry involves the study of compositions, structures and properties of materials and compounds we use every day. Chemistry professionals use this knowledge to improve or develop new materials or material uses. Chemistry careers can be lucrative, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a slow job growth rate is expected through 2014 for many chemistry-related jobs. The 10 top chemistry careers are in pharmaceuticals and medicine, manufacturing, research and service industries.
In a biochemistry career, you study the chemistry of living organisms to learn about growth, development and genetics. Research and development work in this profession requires a doctorate degree. A bachelor’s or master’s degree can get you an entry level job. The median annual salary for a biochemist is $79,390, according to the BLS.
Chemist and Material Scientist
Chemists and materials scientists study how to make life better through improved products, materials and process. To become a chemist or material scientist, you need a master's or doctorate degree to be competitive in a slow market. However, the annual medial salary for chemists is $68,320 and $84,720 for material scientists, according to the BLS.
You can use your chemistry expertise to educate others in a post-secondary environment, such as a college or university. A Ph.D. is preferred for educators at the college level. As an educator, you are responsible for overseeing the complete learning experience for your students. The average annual salary for established educators is $71,140, according to the BLS.
Chemical engineering combines principles of chemistry and engineering to solve problems. Chemical engineers can work in manufacturing environments, the petroleum industry or the food and drug industry. The growth rate is slower than average, but the median annual salary for a well-established chemical engineer is $90,300, according to the BLS.
Chemical Plant Operator
Chemical production facilities hire chemical plant operators to prepare and operate process equipment. As a chemical plant operator, you are responsible for metering raw materials, controlling and monitoring production process. A high school degree and chemical or manufacturing experience is required for this job. The median annual salary is $54,270, according to the BLS.
You can work as a chemistry technician with a two-year associate degree. Job duties include calibration and technical support of analytical equipment used in chemical analysis. Work is typically performed in industrial laboratory environments such as water treatment or chemical manufacturing plants. The median annual salary is $42,040, according to the BLS.
Environmental Scientist and Specialists
Finding solutions to protect the environment is the focus of environmental scientists and specialists. You use your chemistry knowledge to find ways to reduce the adverse effect of pollution. A bachelor’s degree is needed to enter this profession. The average annual salary is $61,700, according to the BLS.
Forensic Science Technician
Chemical analysis performed in laboratories is one job duty as a forensic science technician. Forensic science technicians help with crime investigations by collecting and analyzing evidence. Performing laboratory work will require you to have a bachelor’s degree. The median annual wage for this competitive career is $51,570, according to the BLS.
Manufacturing Quality Control Manager
Manufacturing facilities have quality control labs to manage product quality. As a quality control manager, you oversee quality assurance programs, including analytical methods and procedures. The annual median salary for this job is $89,190, according to the BLS.
Chemistry plays an import role in the pharmaceutical industry as medical scientist research and study ways to improve or create new drug therapies for serious illnesses such as diabetes and cancer. A master’s or Ph.D. degree is required. The median annual salary for some medical scientists is $73,700, according to the BLS.
- California State University - San Marcos: What is Chemistry?
- American Chemical Society: Careers in Chemistry - Career Descriptions
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Biochemists and Biophysicists
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemists and Material Scientists
- O*Net Online: Summary Report for Chemistry Teachers, Postsecondary
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemical Engineers
- US News University Directory: Chemical Plant and System Operators
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemical Technicians
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Environmental Scientists and Specialists
- Bureau of Labor and Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Forensic Science Technicians
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