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What can I do with a degree in chemistry?

Students graduating with a degree in Chemistry have a wide world of career choices. They can choose to begin work immediately in the industry setting. They can choose to teach and research at the university level. They can opt for working with Federal or State Governmental Agencies, especially in the not-for-profit sector. Finally, many chemistry graduates choose the entrepreneurial route and start their own company or consulting business.

Here are some examples of the types of careers in each of the major fields, with links for more information:


The largest percentage of chemists have careers in Industry. Here are some of the varieties within the field:

Research and Product Development

Sales and Marketing

Quality Control/Regulatory




Careers in governmental agencies at the local, state or federal level are regarded as very stable. Agencies such as the CDC, FDA, NIH, among others look for experienced chemists with effective communication skill.

Law and Policy

Military and Law Enforcement

Environment and Health


Careers in Academia tend to focus on education of the next generation of scientists as well as conducting scientific research that adds to the overall body of scientific knowledge.

Higher Education

High School


Nonprofit organizations work to improve the overall welfare of mankind through education, charity, and humanitarian aid. Groups such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Chemists without Borders have been effective worldwide.


You may decide to start your own company once you have some experience in any one of the other fields. From contracting Research and Development services to researching intellectual property laws, the range of consulting/contracting services you can offer to other agencies is only limited by your experience and imagination.

As you can see, chemistry is a fantastic gateway degree to a large variety of potential employment opportunities. We are finding new applications for chemistry every day, and you can be a part of this exploration!

For more information, visit the American Chemical Society’s College to Career website.