I’ve got my degree – now what? Ed. 2

Edition 2 – Chemistry

Welcome back to the next edition of “I’ve got my degree – now what?” As a little recap, this series will look at a different degree subject in each edition and deep dive into what careers you can go into upon graduating, the industries, and types of companies that are hiring in those fields.

The second in our series will look at…Chemistry! Although having a specific degree doesn’t mean you have to pursue a career in that field, you’d probably want to know what you can do with all of that specific knowledge you’ve acquired. So, without further ado, here are some of the career paths you can take with your Chemistry degree.

  1. Forensic Scientist

Ever watched any crime show and you see the people in white suits checking out the crime scene? Well those are forensic scientists – they provide scientific evidence to the court of law in criminal or civil cases by presenting contact trace material associated with a crime. This includes body fluids, hair, clothing fibres, paint or glass fragments, tyre marks or even substances that may have been used to start fires. Although you tend to stick to typical office hours, as crimes can happen at any moment, you may be asked to work evenings and weekends on occasion. Be warned, competition is high, so it may be worthwhile completing a master’s qualification to give you an edge. Depending on the country you work in, forensic scientists may be employed by police departments or commercial companies that are hired for their services. 

  1. Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants work on areas such as the effects of new developments on the environment, pollution, the effects of agriculture or leisure activities ecosystems, impact of climate change and waste management. With the ever increasing desire to become more sustainable and conscious of the human impact on our environment, careers in this field are expected to continue to grow over the coming years. The first two years of consultancy are usually spent on-site gaining experience, but as you get extra training you may also be able to gain membership to professional bodies in the industry such as Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), or Geological Society. 

  1. Pharmacologist

As a pharmacologist you’ll investigate how drugs interact with biological systems, whether that’s in humans or in animals. You may carry out in vitro or in vivo research to predict what effect certain drugs might have on the subject. A major part of this role is researching drug discovery and development, which in time like these with the pandemic still looming over many of us is a vital service. Potential employers include pharmaceutical and biosciences organisations such as AstraZeneca or GSK, academic departments within universities, government and environmental agencies, the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) where work is carried out on patents.

  1. Toxicologist

Toxicologists use analytical and scientific techniques to investigate the potential adverse effects of chemicals, biological substances, materials and radiation, can have on human and animal life. You may work in a number of different areas such as clinical settings, consumer, industrial, forensic, occupational or academic. Graduates can expect to earn between £20,000 and £30,000, but there is a lot of room for earning growth as you gain experience. There is scope to specialise in an area for example, aquatic systems, food safety or within pharmacology.

  1. Radiation protection practitioner

Radiation protection practitioners measure and monitor radiation, assess risks and ensure workplaces, the general public and the wider environment is safe. In this position you will give advice on possible hazards of ionising radiations (x-rays for example) as well as radioactive material. You could be giving advice to meet legal requirements or help improve workspace or tooling design. The NHS have an exciting programme for those keen to pursue this career –  he NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) is open to graduates who hold a minimum 2:1 in a science or engineering subject, or a 2:2 with a relevant Masters or PhD and it trains you to work in a senior scientist role in a variety of areas within radiation protection. 

  1. Nuclear engineer

Nuclear engineers conduct research on nuclear engineering projects or apply principles and theory of nuclear science to problems concerned with release, control, and use of nuclear energy and nuclear waste disposal. They are tasked with designing, building, running or decommissioning nuclear power stations. You would typically do the following:

  • Design or develop nuclear equipment, such as reactor cores and radiation shielding
  • Direct operating or maintenance activities of nuclear power plants
  • Write operational instructions for handling and disposing of nuclear waste
  • Monitor nuclear facility operations to ensure they are in line with safety regulations and laws
  • Testing methods of using nuclear material, reclaiming nuclear fuel, or disposing of nuclear waste
  • Examine nuclear accidents and design preventive measures

Due to the levels of security and technical knowledge required to complete this job, salaries are often quite generous, with the opportunity to earn a six-figure salary at senior management level. 

  1. Analytical chemist

As an analytical chemist, you’ll use a range of methods to investigate the chemical structure and nature of substances, with the aim of identifying and understanding how it behaves in different conditions. The exact role can very as there are a wealth of organisations you can be employed in, including:

  • Publicly funded research councils
  • Hospitals
  • Public health laboratories
  • Environmental agencies
  • Consultancies
  • Testing companies
  • Private companies e.g food, materials, polymers, pharmaceutical
  1. Research scientist

And finally, if you love the fundamentals of chemistry and really got into the lab work at uni, why not become a research scientist? As a research scientist in the physical sciences you’ll design and conduct experiments to collect physical evidence of natural phenomena, which is then analysed to develop practical applications. If you choose more theoretical research, you will  use thought experiments to increase knowledge of your subject. The exact nature of the work depends on whether you are employed in industry or in an academic setting, but much of the work tends to be laboratory based. If you aren’t sure which industry to specifically work in, there are a large number of different areas you could be researching, including:

  • aerospace
  • biosciences
  • chemicals
  • defence
  • energy
  • environment
  • consumer products
  • pharmaceuticals

We hope this has been helpful and given you a few ideas to explore. Ready to start looking for jobs? Then head on over to our platform here.