What Can I Do With a Chemistry Degree

Analytical

Areas

  • Research
  • Development
  • Analysis and Testing
  • Consulting
  • Environmental
  • Forensics

Employers

  • Federal, state, and local government
  • Federal agencies including National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • Manufacturing firms including textile, petroleum, food, electronics, glass, paper, packaging, machinery, cosmetics, paint, drug, and chemical industries
  • Industrial production and inspection agencies
  • Research laboratories and organizations
  • Environmental protection organizations
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Familiarize yourself with federal, state, and local government job application processes.
Gain experience in a laboratory setting.
Develop proficiency with high-tech scientific equipment.
Take electives in your area of interest.

Biochemical

Areas

  • Research
  • Development
  • Analysis and Testing
  • Consulting
  • Quality Control
  • Medical
  • Environmental
  • Industrial Health & Safety
  • Hospital Administration

Employers

  • Research laboratories and organizations
  • Pharmaceutical and medical research firms
  • Biotechnology firms
  • Plant and animal breeders and growers
  • Food processors
  • Industrial production and inspection agencies
  • Environmental protection organizations
  • Federal, state and local government, such as the Centers for Disease Control
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Take additional courses in biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, cytology, and physiology. Develop excellent laboratory and computer skills.
Get involved with undergraduate research with professors. Join related professional organizations. Complete a related internship with an organization in the area of your interest.

Organic

Areas

  • Research
  • Development
  • Analysis and Testing
  • Quality Control
  • Consulting

Employers

  • Industries related to petroleum, coal, wood products, plastics, textiles, and food
  • Manufacturing firms developing new synthetic materials and new production processes
  • Research organizations
  • Federal and state government
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Gain additional laboratory and research experience through internships and summer jobs. Get involved with undergraduate research with professors.

Geochemistry

Areas

  • Environmental Remediation
  • Research & Development
  • Analysis & Testing

Employers

  • Research laboratories and organizations
  • Industries involved in mining, electronics, and synthetic materials
  • Federal and state government
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Take geology & environmental science electives.

Inorganic

Areas

  • Research
  • Analysis and Testing
  • Quality Control
  • Consulting

Employers

  • Environmental organizations
  • Water processing plants
  • Natural resources organizations

Strategies

Choose appropriate coursework to specialize in an area. Develop additional laboratory skills and experience.

Polymer Chemistry

Areas

  • Analysis & Testing
  • Research & Development

Employers

  • Industries involving textiles and plastics

Strategies

Gain research experience through internships, part-time employment, and summer jobs.

Physical

Areas

  • Research
  • Development
  • Analysis and Testing
  • Quality Control
  • Consulting

Employers

  • Research laboratories and organizations
  • Industries involving electrical, nuclear, gas, heat, or light energy
  • Federal government
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Take related courses in social sciences and economics. Develop strong mathematical background.

Education

Areas

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Administration

Employers

  • Private and public secondary schools
  • Colleges and universities

Strategies

Obtain certification/licensing for teaching in public schools. Acquire a master's degree for community college teaching and a Ph.D. for colleges and universities.
Take courses in public speaking.

Business

Areas

  • Technical Sales/Marketing
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Management
  • Consulting
  • Industrial Quality Control
  • Research & Development

Employers

  • Manufacturing firms
  • Drug stores
  • Medical/Pharmaceutical supply companies
  • Industries including textiles, petroleum, food, electronics, glass, paper, packaging, machinery, cosmetics, paint, drugs, and chemicals.
  • Agricultural product companies
  • Environmental management organizations
  • Waste management firms

Strategies

Obtain a minor in business. Develop strong verbal and written communication, interpersonal, and organizational skills. Hold leadership positions in campus organizations. Join related student organizations, e.g., American Marketing Association, Financial Management Association, Public Relations Student Society of America, etc.

Technical Writing

Areas

  • Writing
  • Editing

Employers

  • Research product development departments and organizations
  • Publishing firms including books, scientific and research journals, technical press, large newspapers, and wire services
  • Internet sites

Strategies

Take advanced technical writing courses. Develop word processing and desktop publishing skills.

Law

Areas

  • Patent Law
  • Legislation and Lobbying

Employers

  • Manufacturing firms
  • Research and development firms
  • Law firms
  • Private practice
  • Environmental agencies

Strategies

Obtain law degree to become an attorney.

Information Specialists/Technical Libraries

Areas

Employers

  • Special libraries
  • Research organizations
  • Colleges and universities
  • Large manufacturing firms, especially chemicals and pharmaceuticals

Strategies

Obtain master's degree in library and information science. Develop computer retrieval skills. Join Special Libraries Association, Chemistry Division.

General Information

  • Undergraduate degree sufficient for entry-level positions such as lab coordinator, research assistant, product testing or analysis, technical sales, or service representative.
  • Maintain high grade point average and secure strong recommendations for graduate school.
  • Master's degree sufficient for most applied research positions, industrial work, and some community college teaching.
  • Find research opportunities with professors and other experts in the field to gain experience.
  • Ph.D. degree required for university teaching and advanced positions in management and research and development. Postdoctoral experience is preferred for research positions in industry, universities, and government.
  • Advanced degrees help speed career advancement.
  • Develop strong computer, mathematics, and science skills/knowledge.
  • Obtain part-time, volunteer, co-op, internship, or summer experience.
  • Obtain practical experience using various laboratory equipment and high-tech scientific equipment and data.
  • Complete an undergraduate research project.
  • Consider electives in computer science, engineering, business, public speaking, and writing.
  • Join related student professional organizations.

Prepared by the Career Planning staff of Career Services at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. (1995, Revised 2000, 2005) UTK is an EEO/AA/Title VI/Title IX/Section 504/ADA/ADEA Employer