Careers in Chemistry

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Looking for an entry level job or internship in chemistry? This is an overview of how to approach the search and a list of companies that might have relevant entry level and internship opportunities.

When I was little my dad and I would make rock candy. We’d heat sugary water, pour the liquid in a cup, place a pencil on top with little strings dangling down into the liquid, and wait forever (or a couple days). Excitedly each day, I’d check to see if it had crystallized yet. The best day was when my gorgeous edible rocks were ready for consumption! Making rock candy is about as close as I’ll ever come to being a Chemist– and without their knowledge I’d never have learned it was possible. Chemists search for and use new knowledge about chemicals to improve the way we live.

Chemistry Careers

Photo Credit: Flickr user stevendepolo

Chemist Career Guide Overview

  1. What a chemist does
  2. A typical day for a chemist
  3. Salary and career ladders for a chemist
  4. Best locations for a chemist
  5. Pros and cons to being a chemist
  6. What you need to know to be a chemist
  7. Things you should do to get started as a chemist

What a Chemist Does

A chemist studies the composition of matter and its properties such as density and acidity. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study and measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. They use this knowledge to learn the composition and properties of unfamiliar substances, as well as to reproduce and synthesize large quantities of useful naturally occurring substances and create new artificial substances.
By doing this, they develop products, such as synthetic fibers, drugs and cosmetics, and processes, including oil refining and petrochemical processing, that reduce energy use and pollution.

Chemists may specialize in any number of subdisciplines of chemistry such as analytical, organic, inorganic, physical, theoretical, macromolecular, medical, and materials chemistry.

A Typical Day for a Chemist

A typical day for a chemist might include:

  • setting up and running reactions
  • writing up what you’re trying to accomplish
  • doing a lot of numerical calculation about the reactions
  • figuring out why what happened did happen
  • meetings with other members of the research group and professors
  • brainstorming about what happened during the week with projects and where you can go from there
  • teaching duties

Salary and Career Ladders for a Chemist

The average chemist makes between $30,000-$69,000 each year. In 2009 chemists earned a median annual salary of $68,220. After being a chemist, you can grow into many roles including: Senior Chemist ($48,000-$108,000 on avergae per year), Analytical Chemist ($33,000-$80,000 on average per year), or Research Chemist ($34,000-$97,000 on average per year).

Best Locations for a chemist

These locations are hot spots for chemists:

  • Irvine, California
  • San Diego, California
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Houston, Texas
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Richmond, Virginia

Chemists are often in demand in towns containing research universities, government labs, or pharmaceutical centers.

Pros and Cons to Being a Chemist

Pros
  • You can work independently or in a group
  • You get to learn more about the world around us
  • You can pursue an idea in depth
Cons
  • The number of jobs in the field growing at a lower number than other fields through 2018
  • Lots of education is required

What You Need to Know to be a Chemist

To be a Chemist you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, which will involve courses in science and mathematics. You might also need a master’s degree, or increasingly even a Ph.D. Beyond that, you should be detail-oriented, curious and enjoy working with your hands, building scientific apparatus, performing laboratory experiments, and computer modeling.

Chemistry Resources

If a career as a chemist still sounds like your cup of tea, here are a few things you should do to get started.

Required Reading

Blogs and Websites

Networking Opportunities for a Chemist

Job Search Resources for Chemists

Careers Related to Chemistry

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Companies with Entry Level Jobs and Internships in Chemistry

Firecracker Logo

Firecracker - Firecracker is a Cambridge, MA based company that has built the “most advanced learning platform for the next generation of Physicians.”

See the complete Firecracker profile


Chemical Education Foundation Logo

Chemical Education Foundation - The Chemical Education Foundation is an Arlington, VA based non-profit that “is committed to enhancing science education among every generation."

See the complete Chemical Education Foundation profile


Liquidia Technologies Logo

Liquidia Technologies - Liquidia Technolgoies is a Research Triangle Park, NC based biotech company that has some great entry level job opportunities.

See the complete Liquidia Technologies profile


Chemical Heritage Foundation Logo

Chemical Heritage Foundation - The Chemical Heritage Foundation is all about fostering "an understanding of chemistry’s impact on society," and they offer some exciting job opportunities.

See the complete Chemical Heritage Foundation profile


Forensic Fluids Laboratories Logo

Forensic Fluids Laboratories - If you’re fascinated by forensics and drug testing, you should check out jobs at Forensic Fluids Laboratories.

See the complete Forensic Fluids Laboratories profile


Nestle Purina Logo

Nestle Purina - The Nestle Purina Management Trainee Program offers a variety of opportunities in three locations: Jefferson, WI; Davenport, IA; and Bloomfield, MO.

See the complete Nestle Purina profile


Novomer Logo

Novomer - If you’re impressed, check out jobs at Novomer. Right now they’re looking for a Research Technician in the Ithaca R&D lab

See the complete Novomer profile


Intellectual Ventures Logo

Intellectual Ventures - If you’ve always been fascinated by invention and you think that you have the intellect, then you should check out Intellectual Ventures’ Jobs page.

See the complete Intellectual Ventures profile


Green Seal - If Washington, DC based Green Seal meets your personal standards, you may want to think about a job with them.

See the complete Green Seal profile


Bureau of Engraving and Printing - If you don't believe the saying that "money can't make you happy," then you might be well suited for a job with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

See the complete Bureau of Engraving and Printing profile


New York Structural Biology Center - The New York Structural Biology Center is offering entry-level jobs as a Technician for new college grads who majored in Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

See the complete New York Structural Biology Center profile


Burt’s Bees - Located in Durham, NC, Burt's Bees manufactures eco-friendly personal care products and would be a great place to work if you're environmentally conscious.

See the complete Burt’s Bees profile


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