Chemistry

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There are lots of starting points for choosing a career and using your subject is just one of them. You are not restricted to the career ideas below and you may wish to consider additional factors which are important to you for your future career using our Understand yourself and your options section.

Remember too that the vast majority of graduate jobs are open to graduates of any subject and so your options are much broader than the examples given below.

Firstly, have a think about what ‘using your subject’ means to you and what you’re really looking for. Do you want to apply your subject-specific knowledge or skills to the real world? Or maybe you want to continue to practice and develop these skills? Maybe it’s a broader interest in your subject that you want to keep alive by working in a relevant type of organisation?

Using your subject can help provide you with some focus for your career research, but the broader your interests the more career options you will have open to you. Use our resources below to stimulate your thinking.

Generating career ideas with Chemistry

Using the resources below you can start to create your own list of career ideas to research

  • Look at what alumni from your department have done using the DLHE data we collect and through the University of Sheffield alumni page on LinkedIn.
  • Search for and contact alumni in your subject through our Graduate case studies database.
  • Browse the career ideas for Chemistry graduates on Prospects and TargetJobs but keep in mind that these are not a comprehensive list of all the careers related to your subject.
  • Brainstorm ideas and do some initial investigation to find out about research, organisations, start ups, government bodies and freelancers connected to your subject. Our Information resources - Occupations section is a good place to start.

Some career ideas for Chemistry graduates

Scientific researcher - researchers work in a variety of organisations and agencies, in academia, public and private sectors. The role involves collecting and analysing information and data in a range of different fields (everything from health, finance, government policy and consumer preferences) and presenting that information to other colleagues or clients via written reports, presentations or digital communication. Roles often specialise either in quantitative (working with statistics) or qualitative (analysing non-numerical data) research and provide information that helps colleagues or clients make political, social and economic decisions.

Analytical chemist - analytical chemists work in laboratories to analyse, discover and develop new scientific products such as medicines, by conducting careful/precise experimental research using specialist analytical techniques. You will understand and comply with health and safety and quality testing regulations as these are crucial to ensure the safety of future new drug users. Other related job titles include experimental chemist, cancer researcher, forensic scientist, lab technician, quality control (QC) chemist.

Research and development/formulation chemist - R&D chemists help discover, invent and develop new pharmaceuticals/medicines as well as petrochemicals, houseful goods, toiletries, foods and lifestyle/sports products and materials - including plastics and polymers. R&D chemists apply their advanced technical laboratory skills as well as keep accurate up to date lab records and present findings/reports to their colleagues. You could work in a wide range of different industries in different countries; fluency in another language is useful working for a global pharma company.

Environmental scientist/consultant - undertake environmental impact assessments/research and offers expert advice to both commercial and public sector organisations on issues such as waste management, flood risk, renewable energy, utility companies’ compliance with environmental legislation and regulations. This can involve data collection and analysis, conducting field surveys and using software-modelling packages and then producing detailed technical reports, which you then present to clients considering suitability of new developments e.g. housing, power stations, wind farms in relation to potential impacts on the environment.

NHS clinical scientist trainee – chemistry graduates aiming to become managers in an NHS healthcare science team setting will be provided with on-the-job training and a Masters qualification once obtained a place on the UK NHS’ Clinical Scientist Training Programme (STP). Chemists can specialise in areas including clinical pharmaceutical science, clinical biochemistry and clinical bioinformatics - some roles are more hands-on/patient-facing; others are more lab or research focused such as Technician or Healthcare Science Associate.

Chemistry teacher - teachers usually work with pupils aged 11-18 years old. You will design and deliver engaging Chemistry ‘GCSE’ and ‘A’ level lessons, monitor your pupils’ progress, and prepare classes for external exams in line with national curricula. You will show patience, an interest in young people and an ability to establish a positive learning environment, up-to-date scientific subject knowledge and excellent teamwork, organisational and communication skills. Teaching in further education colleges is also an option but fewer opportunities exist.

Science communicator/writer - science writers prepare and deliver professional presentations on science-related topics often to non-experts or the general public as well as professionals in other disciplines. You may work in a variety of roles including HE schools outreach, scientific events management, public relations roles with learned societies, or education officer roles in science museums. Some larger charities offer roles in science policy, public engagement and communication. There are some specialist publishing roles editing scientific journals or designing marketing for new scientific products and services.

Patent attorney/examiner - patent attorneys use their intellectual property legal knowledge to lead individual inventors or companies through the required process to obtain a patent, draft the patent and then act to enforce inventors' rights if patents are infringed. They work for a firm of patent agents, very large industrial organisations or government bodies. Patent examiners, working for the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) or the European Patent Office (EPO) are responsible for checking an invention is new, clear and inventive, not merely an adjustment to something already existing.

For more detailed specific job profiles/job options look on:

For general Occupational Information across all sectors, see our own resources under Explore occupations

For information about further/higher study options and decision making see Thinking about further study

Subject specific resources