Studying chemistry doesn't restrict you to a career in a laboratory, it can lead to many different careers across a wide range of sectors
Jobs directly related to your degree include:
- Academic researcher
- Analytical chemist
- Chemical engineer
- Clinical scientist, biochemistry
- Forensic scientist
- Research scientist (physical sciences)
- Scientific laboratory technician
Jobs where your degree would be useful include:
- Civil service fast streamer
- Environmental consultant
- Higher education lecturer
- Management consultant
- Nuclear engineer
- Patent attorney
- Radiation protection practitioner
- 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.
Relevant work experience can give you an insight into your career options and will strengthen any future job applications.
If you haven't done an industrial placement as part of your degree, try searching for chemical companies in your local area to see if they offer a formal scheme. If they don't, you can still try applying speculatively for a chemistry-related work experience opportunity.
It can be difficult to find work experience in a lab, so you may need to widen your search. Even if your experience is in another area, such as marketing or administration, it will still be useful for understanding 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'll also find opportunities with employers in other sectors, including the food and drink industry, utilities and research, health and medical organisations, the government and scientific research organisations and agencies.
You could also be employed in schools, colleges and universities, as well as by computer software development companies, environment consultancies and water companies.
Skills for your CV
A chemistry degree allows you to develop excellent laboratory techniques but as it overlaps with other degrees, it also gives you skills that are useful in the areas of biology and medicine, physics and engineering, and geology and earth science.
Chemistry is also studied in an environmental and social context, so you can gain awareness of its ethical implications and issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability.
As well as developing strong mathematical/numerical ability, a chemistry degree gives you transferable skills, including:
- analysis and problem solving
- time management and organisation
- written and oral communication
- monitoring/maintaining records and data
- 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 during their degree, 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 you'll develop more advanced theoretical knowledge and practical sector-specific skills.
What do chemistry graduates do?
More than half of chemistry graduates went into employment six months after university. 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||3.9|
|Type of work||Percentage|
|Technicians and other professionals||19.9|
|Business, HR and financial||15.8|
|Retail, catering and bar work||11.9|
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.