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…
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Analytical chemist
- Chemical engineer
- Healthcare scientist, clinical biochemistry
- Forensic scientist
- Research scientist (physical sciences)
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Chartered certified accountant
- Environmental consultant
- Higher education lecturer
- Patent attorney
- Science writer
- Secondary school teacher
Remember that many employers accept applications from graduates with any degree subject, so don't restrict your thinking to the jobs listed here.
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.
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.
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;
- IT and technology.
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. Find out about Masters degrees and search postgraduate courses.
For information on funding opportunities for further study, see Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).
What do chemistry graduates do?
More than half of all chemistry graduates are in employment six months after graduation. A high proportion go straight into further study after graduating, with around a third being in full-time further study.
The top four occupations held by chemistry graduates employed in the UK are directly related to their degrees.
|Working and studying||4.3|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Technicians and other professionals||19|
|Business, HR and financial||14.6|
|Retail, catering and bar work||9.1|
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.
Find out more
- Chemistry World - Chemistry news and jobs.
- Cogent Skills - Includes careers and qualifications information.
- New Scientist - Science news and jobs.
- Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) - Largest organisation in Europe for advancing the chemical sciences. Includes careers, study and funding information.
- SEMTA - Includes careers and qualifications information.