Chemist Career Path
How To Become a ChemistChemists develop beneficial compounds for pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, and other industrial and medical organizations. While a formal education is an absolute must, a chemist needs skills you can't learn in the classroom. Successful chemists excel at problem-solving, time management, and communication. Typically a chemist works with a team, so it helps to be outgoing and empathetic. Finding a mentor in the field will give you insight into a chemist's workday. They can also guide you as you take the following steps on your way to pursuing a career as a chemist.
Pursue a degree.
While an associate's degree may qualify you for a technician job, you'll need at least a Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry to become a full-fledged chemist. Biochemistry and engineering are other majors that can lead to a chemist career. Your coursework should include general chemistry, organic chemistry, computer science, and mathematics. If you're interested in research or teaching, you'll want to complete a master's degree and doctorate. In graduate school, you'll choose a specialization, so by the time you complete your bachelor's degree, you'll need to decide which career in chemistry you want to pursue.
What type of degree should you pursue to become a Chemist?
86% of people working as a Chemist earned a Bachelor's Degree
What skills do you need to be a Chemist?
- Written Communication
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Attention To Detail
Participate in research projects.
Many professors offer their students the opportunity to assist with research projects, expand their knowledge, and gain practical experience. As you enter your junior or senior year of college, seek out research opportunities and ensure that your professors know that you're interested in participating. Experience as a research assistant will make you stand out if you apply to graduate school and attract potential employers' attention.
Apply for internships.
Several chemist internships are available to students completing their bachelor's degree or entering graduate school, many with significant companies in the field. An internship gives you even more practical experience, and interning at a leading company is a great way to grow your professional network. Plus, it isn't uncommon for an internship to lead to a permanent position with the company.
Apply for chemist jobs.
After completing your degree and gaining experience through research projects and internships, it's time to start applying for chemist jobs. Remember, you may only qualify for entry-level positions when you first begin applying, especially if you only have a bachelor's degree. Don't get discouraged, though, because an entry-level job is a great way to get acclimated to the workplace and work your way up to a higher position. If you have a master's degree or doctorate degree, you could qualify for a management position.
Join a professional organization.
Chemistry is an ever-evolving field, so it's vital to stay updated on developments and never stop learning. Joining a professional organization like the American Chemical Society will give you access to all sorts of educational resources that will help you advance your career. These organizations also hold conferences and other events, allowing members to expand their professional network.
Total Pay Trajectory
Chemist Career Path
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