The Department of Chemistry at the University of Illinois
Chemistry as a Career
Most chemists by necessity are specialists both in interest and in occupation. The majority of chemists are engaged in research and development in private industry. They may work on applied research projects developing new products, or they may be engaged in theoretical research discovering new facts that may eventually lead to new products. Many chemists are employed as administrators of these research projects or as executives in industry and government. Advanced jobs and executive positions usually require graduate study and most often a doctorate; many industries, however, offer rotational training programs as part of their employment program. Chemists may be found in a wide variety of private firms, including those manufacturing food, petroleum, paper, electrical equipment, metals, pharmaceuticals, and chemicals. Others are employed by private research firms and the federal government's departments of defense, health, agriculture, and interior. Some chemists work as marketing experts, salespeople, technical representatives, consultants, and technical writers for private industry. Although an advanced degree may be advantageous for these positions, many are open to graduates with the bachelor's degree.
A large number of chemists are employed as teachers and researchers. Usually a doctorate is required to be a faculty member at a college or university. Often university professors work on projects supported by funds from the government or from private industry. Students with a bachelor's degree in teaching of chemistry can find openings in secondary schools.
Currently, the demand for chemists is good at all levels. Starting salaries range from an average of $41,000 for those with a bachelor's degree to an average of $81,000 for those with doctoral degrees. Given that there are fewer students entering the chemical fields, it is expected that there will be a healthy demand for those graduating in the chemical sciences in the foreseeable future.
For more information about career opportunities for Chemistry students, please contact the SCS Career Counseling and Placement Services Office.
SCS Career Services Office
105 Noyes Laboratory