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An education in chemistry prepares individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to identify and utilize chemical processes in a variety of contexts, including experimentation, manufacturing and pharmacology. Students will study a variety of subdivisions in chemistry as well as some other sciences, in order to better understand and build upon the field of chemistry. Students will become familiar with timings, mixtures, temperature and other factors that may affect a chemical process, and learn the methods by which to control them.
Students may pursue associate, bachelor, master and doctoral degrees in chemistry, with associate level educations limiting individuals to assistant positions in laboratory settings. A bachelor's degree will allow for entry level positions as chemists, and graduate degrees will allow greater freedom to pursue work while specializing in one of the many areas of chemistry.
Courses in a chemistry curriculum may include:
Individuals interested in finding employment in the field of chemistry will find that work opportunities will be minimal and competitive, due to a restructuring of research projects in the pharmaceutical industry. As such projects begin to partner with research universities and institutions, the demand for professional chemists is expected to decrease, though some jobs will be available through retirement, managerial positions, and government employment. Students may seek employment in a variety of locations, though most positions will be through research institutions, private manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, government facilities and test laboratories.
Chemists who pursue graduate level degrees or higher will have more employment opportunities, particularly if their area of specialization is in demand. Specialization allow scientists to focus on a particular area of interest, and to obtain a greater understanding of the processes belonging to that sub-field.
Chemistry specializations include:
- Analytical Chemistry
- Organic Chemistry
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Medicinal Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
The average wage for a chemist is nearly $69,000 per year, though individuals with graduate or doctoral educations, or those who have experience in the industry will earn more than others. Chemists may work in potentially dangerous environments, and those that do may also receive salaries in the higher end of the spectrum due to risk.