A degree in chemistry offers the opportunity for a challenging and rewarding career. Chemistry is the central science; it connects on one side with physics and mathematics, on another with earth and environmental sciences, and on yet another with biology and medicine. It is a fundamental driver in the business and commerce sector of our society. If you plan to work in the chemical industry or to teach chemistry, a chemistry background is clearly important. A significant knowledge of chemistry, however, is often required in professions such as molecular biology and biotechnology, hazardous waste management, art conservation, and forensic science. A growing number of chemists are finding employment in industrial hygiene, environmental health and safety, or occupational health and safety. Hospitals and medical research institutes employ a large number of chemists. Another area to consider is science journalism, as there is a great need for science expertise in the news media.
Federal, state, and local governments also hire large numbers of chemists for a variety of needs. For example, environmental agencies employ chemists to analyze air, water, and soil samples for pollutants. Transportation departments employ chemists to develop better road surfaces. Health and law enforcement agencies employ chemists as investigators and forensic experts. Chemists in the federal government often work on environment issues, quality control, national defense, basic and applied research, and consulting. Chemists and biochemists are in continual demand. Here are a few examples:
- Chemist in a crime laboratory at a state police department
- Environmental chemist
- Quality control chemist
- Research chemist
- Sales representative
- Research technician
- High School chemistry teacher
- Technical writer
Starting salaries for beginning full-time chemists are dependent upon location, type of employer, and level of education. Missouri State University chemistry alumni have been employed in a wide variety of positions.
A bachelor's degree in chemistry is an ideal pre-medicine degree. Medical schools do not require a particular college major, but a chemistry background will be helpful in biochemistry, endocrinology, physiology, microbiology, and pharmacology.
Chemistry is also an excellent major for students planning careers in other health professions such as dentistry, optometry, pharmacy and veterinary medicine. Many students have found that having a chemical background gives them a distinct advantage in medical or dental school. All schools of dentistry, medicine, pharmacy and optometry require chemistry for admission. Almost every medical school requires one year of general chemistry and one year of organic chemistry, both with laboratories. Many dental and optometry schools also have the same requirements.