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Related Skills

Graduates with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry are skilled at critical thinking, synthesizing complex ideas, and analyzing technical data and information. The degree opens many doors and leads to exciting, varied, and even unconventional careers.

Being Successful in the Field

  • Undergraduate degree sufficient for entry-level positions such as lab coordinator,research assistant, product testing or analysis, technical sales, or service representative.
  • Maintain high grade point average and secure strong recommendations for graduate school.
  • Master's degree sufficient for most applied research positions, industrial work, and some community college teaching.
  • Find research opportunities with professors and other experts in the field to gain experience.
  • Ph.D. degree required for university teaching and advanced positions in management and research and development. Postdoctoral experience is preferred for research positions in industry, universities, and government.
  • Advanced degrees help speed career advancement.
  • Develop strong computer, mathematics, and science skills/knowledge.
  • Obtain part-time, volunteer, co-op, internship, or summer experience.
  • Obtain practical experience using various laboratory equipment and high-techscientific equipment and data.
  • Complete an undergraduate research project.
  • Consider electives in computer science, engineering, business, public speaking, and writing.
  • Join related student professional organizations.

Related Fields

Many scientific, technical, engineering, manufacturing, legal, medical, and environmental industries rely on the expertise of a chemist. Chemists are involved in making products safer, better, and less expensive. They develop ways to monitor natural and man-made chemicals in the environment, and look for ways to prevent and clean up pollution. They use science to solve and deter crimes, to protect homeland security, and to craft legislative policy. All employment sectors hire chemists; academic institutions, private industries, the military, and governmental agencies all need chemists!

Unemployment rates among chemists are typically well below the national average, and starting salaries are higher than for most other sciences. For the latest information about the job market and information about starting salaries, visit the American Chemical Society website.

Following is a sampling of the types of careers a chemist might choose:

  • Agricultural chemist
  • Biomedical/Cancer researcher
  • Chemical safety officer
  • Chemical sales representative
  • Chemistry professor
  • Dentist
  • Drug discovery researcher
  • Environmental attorney
  • FBI Agent
  • Food scientist
  • Forensic scientist
  • High school teacher
  • Materials chemist
  • Patent examiner
  • Pharmaceutical sales representative
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician
  • Polymer chemist
  • Quality assurance chemist
  • Technical writer
  • Veterinarian
  • Water quality chemist

Career Industry Liaison

Name Office Email Phone
Debbie Ungson-Walbert  208 Bone Student Center  (309) 438-2200 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Shawn Hitchcock  Science Laboratory Building 317  (309) 438-7854