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What can I do with my degree?: Chemistry

Studying chemistry allows you to develop subject-specific and transferable skills which are valued by all employers, meaning your future career doesn't have to be in a lab…

Job options

Jobs directly related to your degree include:

Jobs where your degree would be useful include:

Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here. To find out what jobs would suit you, log in to My Prospects.

Work experience

If you haven't undertaken an industrial placement as an undergraduate, obtaining some relevant work experience is a valuable way of gaining an insight into your options and building your CV. If your chosen company does not offer a formal scheme, try sending a speculative CV asking for work shadowing or short-term work experience. As many manufacturing and scientific companies are global, there may also be opportunities to work and gain experience overseas.

Volunteering is another excellent way of enhancing your CV. Although you may not find many opportunities that directly relate to your chemistry degree, there are many schemes that focus on related areas such as the environment, sustainability, ethics and medicine.

Search for placements and find out more about work experience and internships.

Typical employers

The main employers of chemistry graduates are in the chemical and related industries, such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, petrochemicals, toiletries, plastics and polymers. However, those who studied chemistry may enter many different sectors including the food and drink industry, utilities and research, health and medical organisations and scientific research organisations and agencies.

Find information on employers in science and pharmaceuticals, engineering and manufacturing, teaching and education, and other job sectors.

Skills for your CV

As well as developing excellent laboratory techniques, you'll gain specific knowledge in the traditional fields of chemistry. As chemistry overlaps with other subjects, you'll pick up skills that are useful in biology and medicine, physics and engineering, and geology and earth science.

Chemistry's also studied in an environmental and social context, so you'll gain awareness of its ethical implications and issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability.

As well as developing strong mathematical/numerical ability, you'll have transferable skills, including:

  • analysis and problem-solving;
  • time management and organisation;
  • written and oral communication;
  • monitoring/maintaining records and data;
  • teamwork;
  • IT and technology.

Further study

Many chemistry graduates undertake further study to increase their knowledge of one of the branches studied at undergraduate level, such as organic chemistry or analytical chemistry. Some specialise in areas of applied chemistry, such as cheminformatics or biochemistry. Others develop knowledge in an area where chemistry graduates may be in demand, for example, forensic nanotechnology and forensic investigation.

Further study is highly valued by employers, particularly within scientific and technical fields, as it equips graduates with more advanced theoretical knowledge and practical sector-specific skills.

For information on funding opportunities for further study, see Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) .

For more information on further study and to find a course that interests you, see postgraduate study in the UK and search postgraduate courses.

What do chemistry graduates do?

Half of all chemistry graduates are in employment. A high proportion go straight into further study after graduating, with around a third being in full-time further study. Of those in employment 9% are working as laboratory technicians.

Graduate destinations for chemistry
Destinations Percentage
Employed 50.1%
Further study 33.1%
Working and studying 4.4%
Unemployed 8.2%
Other 4.2%
Types of work entered in the UK
Science 21.6%
Technicians and other professionals 17.5%
Business, HR and financial 12.3%
Retail, catering and bar work 11.7%
Other 36.9%

For a detailed breakdown of what chemistry graduates are doing six months after graduation, see What Do Graduates Do?  

Graduate destinations data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.


Further information

Written by AGCAS editors
May 2014

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