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What branch of Chemistry should I specialize in and what jobs are available for each?

I love Chemistry and I know I want to major in it, but I don't know what branch I want to go into specifically. I know there's analytical chemistry, biochemistry, organic chemistry, and inorganic chemistry. What kinds of jobs do each of these branches include and which branches will have the most job opportunities in the future? Thank you in advance!

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Keidra’s Answer

Hi Meridee! This is very cliche, but its all up to your interests. In each of those traditional sectors, you can have a variety of roles: lab tech, Chemist, scientist, formulator,etx. They all also include a ton of Analytical Chemistry work, so if you wanted a safe option to never have to deal with unemployment Analytical Chemists have it good as they are a versatile bunch. Keep in mind, you may need a graduate degree if you wanted to do more exciting work! If you only want to get paid, become a chemical engineer. but whatever you do, DONT WORK FOR INDEPENDENT ENVIRONMENTAL LABS!!

Now, allow me to blow your mind! There are many more opportunities for chemists than before that cross with other professions! Do you like teaching? Be a Chemistry Professor or Teacher. Like food, beverage or beer? Be a food scientist or brewmaster. Like law? You can work as Chemical Patent Researcher/Lawyer. How about computers? Computational chemist or cheminformatican! Like repairing things? Chemical Field Service Engineers! Playing with batteries? Look at Electrochemical scientists. There's so many unique Chemistry jobs available, and yes you can go the traditional route but find that subset of something that you enjoy doing. I work in a company that does a subset of organic chemistry, but I'm not a Research Chemist and I know I wouldn't enjoy it. Rather, I'm an Analytical Chemist who specializes in Vibrational Spectroscopy. And much more than that? I specialize in chemometrics and quality engineering because I love my statistics! Hope that helps.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! This was super helpful! Meridee
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Sarah’s Answer

I echo what Keidra says about chemistry opening so many doors. Friends from my chemistry degree course have gone onto be accountants, researchers, analysts, patent attorneys to name a few. I would suggest keeping your options as open as possible and, if you have to specialize, look at areas such as climate/clean energy, personalized health/medicine and computing-related topics. I took some software modules in my degree and actually now wish I had kept my knowledge in that area up to date as there are a lot of roles where it's useful.

I believe that science and technology is critical to saving our planet and we need more diverse minds working in STEM to solve the world's most pressing problems. I feel so strongly about it that I did a TEDx talk on the topic which is here in case it's of interest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mulAuJFcxQQ

Best of luck whatever path you choose.
Sarah
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! The TEDx talk is fascinating. Meridee
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Matthew’s Answer

1) Join the American Chemical Society, student membership is $25
https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/membership.htm
Another professional organization is the Biophysical Society. Join a few, see what appeals to your interests. If you get into a career you hate, it probably won't last long.

2) be active and go to the meetings. Meet the people who will hire you. Most professional societies during their annual meetings, offer activities that are geared for students, like job interviews or career coaching. They interview you. You interview them. You show up on your nickel, means they will know you are serious. If you get a job in academia, you will be expected to go to these meetings.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I will join the Society today! Meridee
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Larry’s Answer

Hi there! as a former undergraduate advisor in chemistry I can tell you that a 4-year degree will touch on most areas of chemistry if the school has an ACS certfied chemistry degree. In your research on the courses needed at different colleges check to see what you need to take. The normal sequence would be general chemistry, organic, analytical (quantitative analysis), physical, some biochemistry and inorganic (could be 2nd year or final year or both). By your senior year you should have a pretty good feel for what you like.

Larry recommends the following next steps:

find out what your college has for undergraduate research programs. Some professors will pay you for summer research, usually after completing analytical.
Specialization would be best done in an MS or PhD program
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! I'm very interested in doing as much research as possible in college. Meridee
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