MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: What type of benefits does a job as a chemist offer?

Date: Fri Jan 15 08:33:03 1999
Posted By: Ruth Weiner, Faculty, Transportation of Radioactive Materials, Chem and Radiological Risk Assessment, Sandia National Laboratories
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 916245689.Ch

The main benefit, if you are interested in chemistry, is that it is fun and the work that you do usually has a lot of variety. Other benefits depend on how much education you get before going out into the workplace. You really can't do much as a chemist without an undergraduate college degree, preferably a B. S. with an American Chemical Society-approved major (the college can tell you if their major meets these standards). With a B. S., you can almost always get a job as an analytical chemist or laboratory technician, either in private industry or in some government or research laboratory. The available jobs cover a very wide range of subjects, from product analysis to making new chemicals (synthetic chemistry) to doping food and drug analysis to hospital laboratory work. A specialized B. S. degree in forensic chemistry is offered by a few universities; this is a field where you work with law enforcement to help solve crimes, and it is fascinating. Current starting salaries for this kind of job are from $24,000/year to perhaps $40,000. A M. S. in chemistry doesn't get you much, but in chemical engineering you have a number of interesting jobs available, mostly in product chemistry and chemical synthesis. With a Ph. D., you may get a position directing a research or analytical laboratory or teaching chemistry in a university. You need a Ph. D. for university or college teaching. Studying chemistry gives you insights into a lot of environmental problems, helps you understand controversies surrounding food preservation, "organic" farming, air and water pollution, water treatment, and even cooking.

My "reference" is almost 40 years of teaching chemistry at Grade 10-12, undergraduate, and graduate level, and career counseling thousands of college students. I organized forensic chemistry and environmental chemistry major programs and helped Florida International Univ get ACS accreditation.

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