Skip to main content
5 answers
Asked 274 views Translate

What are some careers related to chemistry? Are they all related to medicine?

Whenever I've researched careers related to chemistry, everything that comes up seems to be about creating drugs for medicinal purposes. Are they the only chemistry-related career paths?
#chemistry #career

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you


5 answers

Updated Translate

Christopher’s Answer

No, Chemists work in a wide array of settings, depending on several factors, including:

1) Their level of education (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, or Ph.D. level)
2) Sub-field of chemistry they specialize in (Organic, inorganic, biochemistry, etc.)
3) Career interest (Industry, academic, etc.)

While the biotech and pharmaceutical industry does employ a LOT of chemist (mostly biochemists, organic chemists, and medicinal chemists) to develop and test new drugs, other sectors who employ chemists include:

1) The Chemical industry: maybe not surprising but there are many companies (Dow Corning, DuPont, 3M, etc.) who specialize in making chemicals, so as you can imagine they employ a lot of chemists. Mostly they work on things like developing new materials (plastics, polymers, nanoparticles, coatings, paints, etc.) and chemical processes.
2) Agriculture: developing new fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals related to agriculture, as well as using chemistry to do things like test agricultural products for safety and standards of quality, products like honey, wine, beer, milk, etc. Some chemists who work in agriculture are employed by the government (USDA, FDA, etc.), some work for industry, and some for large farms, vineyards, and other agrobusinesses.
3) Energy / petroleum: this sector employs large numbers of chemists who focus on developing / employing techniques to refine petroleum and petroleum-based products as well as other fossil fuels. Green / renewable energy companies are also major employers, using chemists in roles like developing better solar cell materials, carbon capture technologies, and recycling processes.
4) The government: all levels (local, county, state, and federal) employee chemists for various roles, from food safety, water quality, to military and defense applications.
5) Academia: colleges and universities employee chemists as faculty (these are almost all Ph.D. level folks) to both tech chemistry to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to run research programs focused on making new scientific discoveries / breakthroughs.

As you can see, there are a wide array of jobs. Rather than focusing on what you don’t want to do, a better question would be what you would like to do with a chemistry degree. Once you have a better idea of the kind of job you would like to have you can ask more specific questions about the kind of training and scope of job opportunities available.
Best of luck!
Updated Translate

Michael’s Answer

To the terrific answers already given, I'd add that NASA employs plenty of chemists looking at many questions in astrochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, propulsion systems, and materials science. Additionally, there's the whole nuclear chemistry area, the chemistry of the oceans, geochemistry, the fashion industry employs textile chemists, and on and on. If you love computers, there are growing opportunities in theoretical chemistry and using artificial intelligence to advance different areas of chemistry (see Deep Mind and protein folding for example.)

Michael recommends the following next steps:

Ask yourself which of the areas (from all the answers not just mine) would you love to make a difference in. Where would it make you really proud to make a difference and be able to say 'I/We did that!'?
Updated Translate

Aaron’s Answer

You can also look at chemical engineering. Lots of paths in chemistry! Of course, it's a great path if you want to go medical although you be one in a million applicants to med school who also studied chemistry. That or biology, etc.

However, you can go into environmental and really get into contaminant tracking. You can get into food industry if you like food. For example, I knew a guy who worked for general mills and Chile banned the honey they were using so they had to come up with an edible and suitable flavor replacement. I have a friend who did chemical engineering and became a top expert in custom polymers for Dow Chemicals. Literally just experiments with plastics, etc and even made a plastic that can be used to create quick and weather resistant domes for housing.

There's a lot you can do. If there's something being made, a chemist is somewhere. You do compete with chemical engineers a lot though if you're in certain industries. With food you also compete with programs geared specifically just for that as well. Chemistry is more general so you'll need to carve your path accordingly through internships and maybe selecting specific electives along your path. However, it also depends where you live. I had a friend in Hawaii who did chemistry and their options for careers were obviously more limited than if they lived in a bigger city.
Updated Translate

Angie’s Answer

Agricultural Chemistry
Consumer Product Chemistry
Analytical Chemistry
Forensic Chemistry
Organic Chemistry
Polymer Chemistry
Pulp and Paper Chemistry
Oil and Petroleum
Food Chemistry
Hazardous Waste
Physical Chemistry
The sky's the limit where chemistry is involved. Good Luck!
Updated Translate

David’s Answer

Baikal this is great question! While I'm not a scientist, there are many other fields other than medicine to explore. Many companies could use you to develop products or services, think about organizations like Rubbermaid or BASF. These organizations can provide people with a background in chemistry the opportunity to serve in sales or operational roles. The food industry is always looking for new ways to improve products and many times that will boil down to the simple chemistry of the product. Good Luck on your hunt!