Studying chemistry opens doors to a range of sectors and opportunities, 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
- Nuclear engineer
- 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 already done so, take a few minutes to answer the Job Match questions to find out what careers would suit you.
If you haven't done an industrial placement as part of your degree, getting some relevant work experience is a good way of gaining an insight into your options. Finding chemistry-related experience in a lab can be difficult, so you may need to widen your search.
Research chemical companies in your local area and if they don't offer a formal scheme, try sending a speculative CV asking for work shadowing or short-term work experience. If they don't have opportunities directly related to chemistry, see if you can get some work experience in another area of the company, for example administration or marketing. This will give you an insight into the company and how chemistry is applied in the workplace
Volunteering is another 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. There may also be opportunities at your local hospital to work in a pathology lab.
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:
- plastics and polymers;
However, you will also find opportunities with employers in many different sectors, including the food and drink industry, utilities and research, health and medical organisations, government, and scientific research organisations and agencies.
Chemistry graduates are also employed in schools, colleges and universities, as well as by computer software development companies, environment consultancies and water companies.
Skills for your CV
As well as developing excellent laboratory techniques, you gain specific knowledge in the traditional fields of chemistry. As chemistry overlaps with other subjects, you pick up skills that are useful in biology and medicine, physics and engineering, and geology and earth science.
Chemistry is also studied in an environmental and social context, so you gain awareness of its ethical implications and issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability.
As well as developing strong mathematical/numerical ability, you have transferable skills, including:
- analysis and problem-solving;
- time management and organisation;
- written and oral communication;
- monitoring/maintaining records and data;
- team work;
- research and presentation;
- IT and technology.
Many chemistry graduates undertake further study at Masters or PhD level to increase their knowledge of one of the branches studied at undergraduate level, such as organic, inorganic, physical or analytical chemistry. You may also specialise in areas of applied chemistry, such as cheminformatics or biochemistry, or 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 you with more advanced theoretical knowledge and practical sector-specific skills.
What do chemistry graduates do?
Almost a third of chemistry graduates go on to further study after graduation. The top job held by graduates working in the UK is laboratory technician.
Three of the top ten jobs are related to chemistry and include chemists, research/development chemists and analytical chemists.
|Working and studying||3.5|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Technicians and other professionals||18.6|
|Business, HR and financial||15.7|
|Retail, catering and bar work||10.4|
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.