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26 Jobs that Require Chemistry

Colorful chemicals and test tubes on the Periodic Table of Elements.

Perhaps you love chemistry, achieve excellent grades in all your chemistry exams, and are considering studying it at university. It is important to consider how you can earn a living doing something you love. You need to contemplate all the opportunities to use chemistry in various professions and choose one that suits you best.

Chemistry jobs:

  • Pharmacist
  • Metallurgist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Pathologist
  • Forensic scientist
  • Horticulturist
  • Farmer
  • Veterinarian
  • Doctor
  • Geneticist
  • Virologist
  • Molecular Gastronomist
  • Archeologist
  • Organic chemist
  • Nuclear chemist
  • Water chemist
  • Chemistry teacher
  • Geochemist
  • Oceanographer

When you look through this list of jobs that use chemistry, always keep in mind that you must enjoy the nature of the job and the environment in which you will work. It takes pleasure in both aspects to make you a happy worker. Chemistry is a fascinating subject and plays an essential role in the functioning of our bodies, the cycle of life on earth, and almost every living or non-living interaction that occurs.

Pharmacist

A couple of pharmacists checking the stock of medicines.

Chemistry is critical knowledge if you want to go into the field of pharmacy. Pharmacists must understand the interactions of chemicals in medicine and how that impacts the body. Although most pharmacists do not mix their formulations these days, they must have a thorough knowledge of the drugs they supply.

Some pharmacists work at formularies where they compound the medicines.  Others work at big pharmaceutical companies where new drugs are developed. These two pharmacy jobs use chemistry in practice every day.

If you choose to study pharmacy at university, you will need to study chemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, biochemistry, and chemical pharmacokinetics. These subjects relate to

  1. the way the human body’s chemistry works
  2. the interaction with pharmaceuticals
  3. how medicine is dispersed, used, and eliminated from the body
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If you do not want the responsibility of being a pharmacist, you can opt to be a pharmacological assistant.

Metallurgist

A metallurgist working with melted metals at high temperatures.

A metallurgist is someone who studies metals and metal alloys. They are involved in

  • the extraction process of metal and the production of alloys
  • testing the strength and properties of metals or alloys
  • producing useful objects from metal

This critical job allows us to advance in scientific discovery and safely use the many devices we have access to. Your school subjects should include chemistry to assist in securing a place in a metallurgy engineering course.

At university, you will study varying chemistry subjects throughout the degree. Several different colleges and universities offer metallurgical engineering courses.

Chemical Engineer

A chemical engineer working with a blue crystalline material.

Chemical engineers are sometimes referred to as materials engineers or materials scientists. Chemistry is a cornerstone in this profession and will form a large part of your studies. Chemical or materials engineers develop new materials and advise on how these materials can be used to create products.

They can be involved in many different products. For example

  1. developing new bricks
  2. safe paint for the inside of your microwave
  3. electrical conductors
  4. creating rubber that allows for more robust car tires to be produced
  5. improving the durability of tarmac roads
  6. designing a coffee cup that does not burn your fingers
  7. developing transparent burglar bars

Chemical engineering is a varied field with a lot of scopes for you to explore areas of chemistry you may not have even thought of.

Pathologist

This is a pathologist preparing a microscope slide for examination.

A pathologist is a medical healthcare specialist responsible for examining bodies, tissues, and cells. You will not find pathologists at your hospital bedside as their work is done in laboratories. Pathologists also test for bacterial, viral, and fungal infections in living organisms.

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They play a critical role in disease diagnosis and monitoring of body functioning. Pathologists submit biological samples to various chemicals and observe the results. Pathologists are also responsible for completing postmortems. They must understand the biochemical processes in the body and the chemical reactions which cause decomposition.

Pathologists are assisted by pathology or laboratory technicians who also work daily with chemistry and the body.

Forensic Scientist

This is a forensic scientist collecting blood sample from crime scene.

Forensic science has become a well-known field of study with the advent of crime television programs and movies. It is fascinating if a somewhat macabre occupation that requires a sound understanding of chemistry. Forensic scientists often have a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry with some specialized courses in forensics.

Forensic scientists can work in the field and in the laboratory, which helps to provide variety in the job.

Horticulturist

This is a young horticulturist taking care of oregano seedlings.

Chemistry does not immediately spring to mind when you think of horticulture. Horticulture falls into agricultural sciences as it addresses the best way to grow, produce, process, store, and ship fruit, vegetables, and flowers.

Chemistry plays a vital role in understanding the chemical processes in plants and facilitating the maximum growth and production of plants. Processing fruit, vegetables, and flowers involve using chemistry to extend shelf life and prevent decay.

Farmer

This is a farmer inspecting the quality of the crops in the farm.

A farmer must be a jack-of-all-trades, and chemistry is no exception to the knowledge base needed in farming. Farmer’s use chemistry to

  1. fertilize and manage crops
  2. manage pest infestations with the correct use of pesticides
  3. monitor the quality of their water
  4. understand the mechanisms of rusting and other processes on farm machines
  5. produce and store food products
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Veterinarian

This is a veterinarian checking the dog with a stethoscope.

If you want to combine chemistry with a love of animals, this would be a good career choice for you. Veterinarians must understand biochemistry and pharmaceutical chemistry to do their jobs.

Animals cannot speak to report problems, and veterinarians are often called on to diagnose conditions in which they must observe the animal’s environment for clues. Chemical reactions in the environment may be causing the problem, and veterinarians must have enough knowledge to spot these issues.

Animals may be exposed to or ingest toxic substances. The vet must understand the chemical mechanism of the poison and the biochemical response to treat the animal efficiently.

Medical Doctor

A medical doctor uses chemistry every day to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients.  Most medical degree courses include at least one year of general chemistry studies. Other chemistry subjects include biochemistry, pharmaceutical chemistry, and pharmacokinetics.

A Neurologist studying the CT Scan results of a patient.

Neurologists must understand brain chemistry as every electrical signal in the brain is a result of neurochemical transmitters.

This is an anesthetist preparing the patient for surgery.

Anesthetists must carefully balance pharmaceutical chemistry and the interaction with the brain and other vital body functions to keep patients adequately anesthetized and alive throughout the surgery.

Geneticist

This is a close look at a couple of geneticists working with a plant specimen in the laboratory.

Geneticists use different aspects of chemistry in their investigation into genetics. They must understand biochemistry and the use of chemicals to isolate and test tissues, cells, and genetic material. There is a complex field of study known as chemical genetics.

Geneticists can work in diverse fields such as agriculture and medicine. They are also employed by pharmaceutical companies, crop and livestock research companies, and even some government agricultural departments.

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Virologist

This is a close look at a Virologist working with vaccines and blood.

A virologist is someone that studies viruses. Viruses still flummox doctors, veterinarians, and horticulturalists as they are challenging to manage, and treatment is often only symptomatic. Virologists are essential in the fight against viruses.

Virologists work in laboratories and use chemicals to isolate, identify and study viruses. They can be involved in the development of vaccines, which requires an in-depth knowledge of chemistry and biochemistry.

Molecular Gastronomist

A close look at the process of molecular cuisine.

Molecular gastronomy employs physics and chemistry to study the culinary processes and their effect on food. For example, why a souffle rises or mayonnaise thickens.

Molecular gastronomy has given rise to molecular cuisine, which has become a novelty with new dishes created from alternative culinary methods. There are even restaurants that only do this form of cuisine. Solid knowledge of chemistry could allow you to open a restaurant or become famous as a molecular gastronomist.

Molecular cuisine is creative, alternative, and often mind-blowing. Some examples are

  1. creating an apple that tastes like meat
  2. creating apple caviar
  3. making beer that tastes smoky
  4. making a tomato mousse that appears to be a whole tomato

Archeologist

These are Archeologists working at a dig site.

Archeologists are not usually linked with chemistry in our minds. Archeology uses carbon dating and other techniques to determine the age and composition of artifacts. Archeologists must have chemistry knowledge to understand which methods to use and how to use them.

Decay and deterioration result from chemical processes. As a result, archeologists need to understand these processes to fill in the missing parts of their discoveries.

Organic Chemist

A close look at an organic chemist working closely with plants in the lab.

Organic chemistry is the study of matter that contains carbon. Organic chemists evaluate and dissect material that contains carbon. They aim to manipulate organic material to create valuable products or influence change in other products. Archeologists and organic chemists will often work closely together when examining artifacts.

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Organic chemistry can create new compounds that are better, safer, and more durable for use than previously used materials. Some products that organic chemists may work on are:

  1. Medicines, bandages, sterilizing procedures
  2. Agrichemicals
  3. Dyes
  4. Plastics
  5. Cosmetics
  6. Rubber
  7. Food
  8. Biofuels

Nuclear Chemist

This is a nuclear chemist collecting radioactive samples.

Nuclear chemists work with only the nucleus of an atom. They must have detailed knowledge of radiation chemistry and radiation biology. Their work can involve radiation disposal, developing radiation treatment programs for cancer, and using radioactive tracers in substances.

Another example of work done by nuclear chemists is nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy which is used to study the chemical, biological and physical properties of matter.

Water Chemist

This is a Water Chemist collecting water samples from the river.

Water chemists are critical for the health and well-being of life on earth. They study the chemicals present in water. This has significant implications for health and sanitation. Water chemists are instrumental in:

  1. ensuring we have clean drinking water
  2. detecting harmful pathogens in water and designing water rehabilitation programs
  3. Assisting governments and municipalities to establish rules to govern waste disposal so that rivers and groundwater are not polluted.

Chemistry Teacher

This is a close look at a chemistry teacher doing an experiment with her students.

If you have a major in chemistry and are passionate about passing on your knowledge, you could choose to be a chemistry teacher. Teaching could be at a school or college level. You would probably need to add a teaching diploma to your chemistry qualification.

Many people in the western world do not value teachers as they should. Teaching chemistry can make an invaluable contribution to the world. You could inspire students to love chemistry, and one of them could be the next Marie Curie.

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Encouraging future generations in scientific endeavors is an admirable and necessary role.

Geochemist

This is a geochemist collecting data in the field.

A geochemist studies the chemical compounds present in the earth’s crust. They examine the composition of the chemicals and chemical movement through water relocation and geological events such as volcanoes or earthquakes.

Geochemistry uses organic and inorganic chemistry to investigate minerals and fossil fuels. An essential subject in the coursework for geochemistry is analytical chemistry.  

Geochemists can have jobs that:

  1. Help mining companies decide where to find deposits of oil or minerals
  2. Assist with appropriate places to dispose of waste
  3. Design programs to clean up toxic waste dumps
  4. Predict geological events such as earthquakes

Geochemists are highly qualified people that typically have a master’s degree or doctorate.

Oceanographer

This is an oceanographer studying the coral reef.

Oceanographers study everything in the ocean, including:

  1. Coral reefs
  2. Marine ecosystems
  3. Currents and water circulation
  4. The geology of the seabed

All life forms are essentially made up of chemical interactions, and all life forms interact chemically with their environment. When that environment is salty, such as the ocean, there are even more chemical interactions.

Other Jobs That Use Chemistry

This is the perfume maker in the workshop making perfumes.

Many other jobs use chemistry, and providing an exhaustive list would be beyond the scope of this article. Some others to consider are:

  1. Toxicology – the study of poisons, drugs, and alcohol in blood and tissues.
  2. Laboratory technicians can work in laboratories doing a whole host of different chemical testing and assist with research.
  3. Biomedical engineers grow organs and skin for transplants.
  4. Quality control chemists that check the quality of products used in production lines.
  5. Crime scene cleaners use chemicals to remove stains.
  6. Laundromat operators use chemicals to dry clean clothes and eliminate stains.
  7. Perfume makers combine chemical elements to create scents.
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Conclusion

Chemistry is a valuable field of study that can provide you with the opportunity to apply for many different job types. If you are considering a career and would like to use chemistry in your job, you can choose one of the many jobs mentioned here and train specifically for that job.

You can also do a general Bachelor Of Science degree with a chemistry major and consider the job opportunities when you have completed your studies.

References:

University of Washington School of Pharmacy: Curriculum

Universities: Best Metallurgical Engineering colleges in the U.S. 2021

Prospects: Metallurgist

ACS Chemistry for Life: Geochemistry

The Recipe: Science & Food: 20 Awesome Dishes Made With Molecular Gastronomy

Indeed: Top Chemistry Degree Jobs