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Graduate Chemistry Jobs

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        Helping you find a career in the chemistry industry

        There are a variety of chemistry careers available, including: laboratory technician/scientist, analytical chemist, biochemist, toxicologist, pharmacologist, and chemical engineer. Positions can either focus on pure research (usually in an academic context) or applied research (most often in a private sector position or in a public body).

        Chemistry-related positions can be found in academic research, private sector industry (pharmaceuticals, toiletries, food & drink, consumer goods, oil & gas, mining & metallurgy) and within public sector and regulatory bodies (for example the NHS, the Food Standards Agency or the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy). Chemistry roles in private sector organisations can often be found in research & development (R&D) departments.

        Careers in chemistry typically involve scientific research within laboratories, performing analysis on different materials to understand their chemical properties and potential applications within industry, to develop new drugs and chemical therapies, to test the safety of different products or to understand potential impacts of compounds at a molecular level. You may well be involved in the development of new methodologies for testing and research. Research projects can be quite long-term, requiring chemists to work in multidisciplinary teams, alongside non-scientists.

        While most careers within chemistry will involve significant practical scientific work, you may also need to prepare written reports for experts and non-experts, including in industry publications or for use in commercial decision-making (for instance reporting on the performance of a new material or pharmaceutical product to support an investment decision). Chemical engineers will also work in manufacturing and industrial sites, designing processes and technologies to support the Production process.

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        FAQs
        Skills & interests required for a career in Chemistry

        All careers in chemistry require applicants to display rigorous practical scientific skills in a laboratory context. Chemists will need to display their abilities in understanding complex data sets, interpreting and explaining statistical trends in written reports. Practical experience of organic or inorganic chemistry and its applications will be particularly important.

        It is important for applicants to be passionate about their work (in whichever field of chemistry they are considering working in), and flexible in their approaches to problem-solving. Projects across the chemistry sector can be long-term, with a number of ‘dead-ends', and their priorities can be changed midway through owing to different commercial, regulatory or medical pressures.

        Graduate schemes & other typical career progression routes in Chemistry

        Many larger employers will have a structured graduate training programme for chemistry positions (typically 18 months to 3 years in length), in which you will be given the opportunity to gain experience in a number of different functions or locations, while also deciding on a specialised area of the business in to focus on once your training finishes.

        Depending on your employer you may also receive support to complete a postgraduate degree during the course of your training or early in your career. An important aspect of a career in chemistry will be to keep up to speed with new developments in chemical research.

        If you work in a chemical engineer position, you may be given support to attain chartered engineer (CEng) status, which can be important in progressing your career in chemical engineering.

        Early on in your career as a chemist you will likely spend most of your time in a laboratory context, though as you progress into more senior roles you may find yourself in an office-based position more often. There may be opportunities for Continuous Professional Development (CPD) to gain commercial and management skills (for instance budgeting or sales), which can prove helpful in securing more senior management positions.

        Tips for getting into the field

        Speak to your careers advisor to discuss your interest in working in the chemistry field; they will be able to offer you advice and support in finding the right sort of positions and employers.

        Work experience in a laboratory environment can be very useful in helping you find a position. Many employers will offer work experience programmes, either short-term over the summer vacation, or long-term over the course of a year-long industrial placement. Speak to your university's careers department to see whether they have any partnerships with potential employers to facilitate work experience.

        Consider which area of the sector you are most interested in and speak to your university department to discuss making sure that you select the right courses and modules to support your career choice.

        How much can graduates earn in Chemistry?

        As there are a variety of positions available within chemistry, there can also be a variable range of salaries available for graduates beginning a career in the area. Typically, graduates beginning careers in chemistry can expect a salary in the range of £18,000 to £25,000, although some graduate schemes in the private sector can pay higher starting salaries. Careers in academic research can be lower-paid than in the private or public sectors.

        Often applicants with postgraduate qualifications (Ph.Ds in particular) can start on higher salaries than applicants with undergraduate degrees only.

        With a few years of experience, chemistry positions can pay between £25,000 and £40,000 per annum, and more senior roles can pay higher, although may require more management experience.

        What qualifications do I need for a career in Chemistry?

        While there are opportunities available within chemistry for applicants with only undergraduate degrees (BSc), many employers will have a preference for applicants with postgraduate qualifications (MSc, MPhil or Ph.D).

        Subjects which employers will look for can vary depending on the nature of the work they do, but typically a BSc in the following subjects will be expected: chemistry, applied chemistry, biochemistry, biochemical engineering, geochemistry, and polymer science/technology. Some employers will specify certain subjects, so make sure to check their recruitment pages before applying.

        Chemistry industry bodies

        Royal Society of Chemistry
        Advanced Chemical Engineering Worldwide (IchemE)
        British Pharmacalogical Society
        The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry
        Science Council