Interesting jobs in Chemistry
As, strictly speaking, a Chemistry blogger I was thinking it was about time I wrote a post actually to do with my subject and I have been thus doing a bit of digging into finding some of the most interesting jobs you can get with a chemistry degree. One of the massive perks of this subject is not just that you are learning the fundamentals of how the world works, but how varied the prospects are. You obviously gain those all-important transferrable skills, like in maths, communication and organisation (having to juggle two lab reports a week should get its own section on your CV!) to name but a few, however there are so many more jobs to discover which aren’t Research and Development, or chemistry teacher, which mean equally you don’t have to throw away three or four years of knowledge as soon as you leave Warwick.
So, without further ado, here are five job profiles you probably haven’t considered that go perfectly with a chemistry degree:
Forensic scientists analyse biological and non-biological samples like blood, hair, fibres, paint, urine for drugs and alcohol or other substances for the police. They support or negate theories based on results and thus are an integral part of crime scene investigation. On a day to day basis, you could be carrying out laboratory experiment, serving as a witness in a court of law, using spectroscopic tests like IR and mass spectrometry and preparing reports- although, sadly, the more skilled the job, the less likely you will actually be visiting the crime scene. So this seems like a good shout for people who enjoy labs but with a bit more relevance and are good communicators. Education-wise it is not often necessary to have a degree in Forensic Science, as generally they have requirements in lab hours and these courses sometimes don’t fulfil that. Luckily, though, our course is SATURATED with labs! Although if you are definitely looking to go down this route, a postgraduate qualification of some kind will be useful as it is quite a competitive career choice. ‘Forensic scientist’ is an umbrella term for lots of different variations of job relating to the title like toxicologists, pathologists and engineers, so if you are interested talk to Charlie Cunningham, the career God, for advice.
Surprisingly enough, the best journalists generally don’t have a degree in journalism, they have a degree in the subject they are writing about, and therefore science journalism is a definite viable career path. Perfect for people who enjoy writing, talking and the research side of chemistry but don’t have much desire to get their hands dirty in a lab. The job market is niche, however if you find yourself enjoying the Key Skills module or writing for the Boar but don’t want to give up science for good after university, this could be the one for you. A science writer will research, write and edit scientific news, articles and features for publications, journals and the general media. The Chemistry degree is perfect because you get to grips with understanding scientific information and terminology, even the same as those in more physical or biological fields. It is a job that will require a lot of self-motivation, as making it in the media is not as simple as a few online applications and work may begin quite freelance; putting forward ideas for articles to science editors and getting ‘on the books’ as a regular writer for organisations. This means you could be working in an office or from home, or of course going to the scenes of action, making the work varied. If this seems like something you could be interested in, experience is vital so get writing for one of the many Warwick publications or a student blog ( 😉 ).
Sounds pretty boring, right? Can’t really go from forensic scientist to something which sounds how an office chair and lonely desk plant looks, but this is actually a pretty damn competitive job, mostly because of the old $$$$$MONEYZ$$$$$, but probably a bit because it’s interesting too! A patent is a grant by the state of a limited-term right to control the exploitation of an invention and a patent attorney help inventors and companies obtain a patent for their work and advise their clients on patent infringement and other things relating to intellectual property (IP) rights. General patent attorneys can work with inventors, barristers, scientists, and pretty much anyone has made anything! But the specialism you gain in chemistry and knowledge of the area gives you a great footing in working with scientific inventions. Newly qualified patent attorneys are looking at salaries between £50,000 and £60,000, rising to between £70,000 and £85,000 with experience and eventually could be earning over £250,000 a year if you make it to the head of department. Heart. Eyes. Whilst the way to get into patent law is with a science or engineering degree, you need to show interest in law and have some relevant experience. Many law firms do offer internships in patent law, so keep your eyes peeled for the deadlines.
Quality Assurance Chemist
This is another job with a bit more of a tangible output to the lab work, which involves testing the quality of new products from multiple companies so they can slap a seal of approval sticker on the side of their packaging from an agency like the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and can go on to sell it and make millions- so it’s pretty important! The specific job falls under the term ‘Analytical Chemist’ which can encompass any technical lab job. A quality assurance chemist can be testing acidity, sugar or water content of food, or even completing minor equipment repairs and ensuring workplace safety. Additionally, this sort of work is essential to the drug discovery process in determining the quality and stability of drugs or studying their physical or chemical properties. Techniques you recognise will be used as part of the job, from something as simple as pH paper or burettes for titrations, to gas chromatography, so your degree and Warwick’s sparkly labs will already have provided you with many of the necessary skills for the job. Obviously, more experience will really help you on the way, and if you are interested, book a meeting with Mr Future, Charlie Cunningham, for some pointers!
Now I don’t know much about politics, but Margaret Thatcher completed her Bachelors of Chemistry at Somerville College, Oxford and look where she ended up! Thatcher became president of Oxford’s equivalent of Conservative Society, and ultimately got her position through her unwavering drive, but this didn’t mean she didn’t have a string of Research and Development jobs in the meantime, including one for J. Lyons and co. developing emulsifiers for ice cream whilst preparing her political campaign! Chemistry really keeps your options open, you never know where you may go…
Need some more ideas? The RSC has a load of job profiles to give you some #careergoals online to get you thinking.
Have a good week!