Careers in Chemistry

What does a chemist do? Unlike a lot of other fields where careers paths are more obvious, many students and the public at large are unaware of what chemists do with their degrees. This is at least partially due to the fact that chemists do so many different things. Understanding chemistry prepares students for careers in medicine, patent law, and many diverse industries, such as those listed below:

  • Health Sciences (examples: drug design (pharmaceuticals) -- medicinal, nutritional and physiological studies, materials for artificial limbs and organs)
  • Computer / Electronics industry (examples: Materials for liquid crystal displays, processing and micromachining of semiconductors)
  • Auto Industry (examples: emissions testing, fuel cell research)
  • Food industry (examples: nutritional testing, development of flavor enhancers and preservatives)
  • Environmental (examples: Measurements of contaminated sites, Development of new sampling and measuring devices, Studying environmental source and fate of
  • toxins)
  • Design and Application of New Plastics (examples: Fibers for textiles and carpets, construction materials, toys, household, etc.

See also:  American Chemical Society Careers  - This page has information on different types of chemistry-related careers, skills required, salary information, plus helpful areas for job seekers (resume help, etc.) and a nation-wide job posting site.


Employment Statistics

Employment of Chemists by Industry

(source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Research and Testing Laboratories   17.8%
Pharmaceuticals (Drugs)   17.2%
Basic Chemicals   8.0%
Education / Outreach   7.4%
Instrument Development   6.1%
Food Products   4.9%
Management Services   4.9%
Soaps / Hygiene / Cleaning Products   4.1%
Polymers / Materials   3.7%
Public Util. / Transportation   2.5%
Paints   2.2%
Textiles   2.2%
Paper   1.5%
Agric./Timber/Mining/Drilling   1.5%
Petroleum Refining   1.2%
Agricultural Chemicals   0.6%
OTHER   14%

UST Chemistry Graduates

Jobs of Some UST Chemistry Alumni:

  • Brewing Group manager at Anheuser-Busch
  • Developer of new biodegradable plastics at Cargill
  • Forensic scientist with the Minneapolis Police Department
  • Developing food ingredients from fermentation processes at General Mills
  • Designer of novel compounds for photographic, agrochemical, and clinical diagnostic applications at Kodak.
  • Member of the technical team that implants pacemaker devices for Medtronic.
  • Adhesives and coatings developer at H.B. Fuller
  • Professor and Dean of Biomedical Sciences at U of Texas Health Science Center

Where have recent chemistry graduates gone after graduation?

  • 30% to graduate schools (All with full tuition scholarships + stipend)
  • 30% to medical or professional schools

Employment with companies such as 3M, Eli Lilly, General Mills, Cargill, Dow, EcoLab, H.B. Fuller, Cima, IBM, Kodak, and more.