Careers in Chemistry & Physics

Biotechnologist

Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to make commercially viable products. Biotechnology is a quickly developing field, which integrates knowledge from biochemistry, chemistry, microbiology, and chemical engineering. The biotechnology industry is primarily focused on pharmaceutical drugs, nutrition, agricultural chemicals and environmental protection. Biotechnologists generally work in a laboratory atmosphere and are involved in various aspects of research and development. Most biotechnologists work for small, innovative biotechnology companies, however many large scientific corporations have recently added biotechnology divisions.  

Biochemist

Biochemistry combines biology with chemistry in an attempt to understand the chemistry of living things. Biochemists study complex biological systems in the areas of medicine, agriculture, veterinary science and environmental science. Biochemists use scientific methods to test novel research ideas, develop new products and develop new processes. Biochemists typically work in research laboratories in private companies, public companies, academia or government agencies. 

Chemical Educator

Chemical educators include middle school teachers, high school teachers, community college instructors and college/university professors. Chemical educators in middle school, high school and at community colleges typically give lectures, conduct discussions, supervise labs, lead field trips, grade papers, and meet with students and parents outside class. Professors at colleges/universities typically teach chemistry courses, perform research, publish scholarly work, and spend time reviewing professional journals and keeping up to date with scientific developments.  

Scientific Sales & Marketing

Scientific sales and marketing personnel are involved in business planning, product development, market development and sales of products. Many chemists with an interest in business work in sales and marketing in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industry. When working in scientific sales and marketing, it is important to be able to bridge the technical and scientific side of the business. People with outgoing personalities, who have an interest in science, are well suited for scientific sales and marketing positions. 

Environmental Chemist

Environmental chemistry is the study of the effects of chemicals on the natural environment. Environmental chemists use a wide range of other scientific disciplines, including biology, geology, ecology, sedimentology, mineralogy, math, and engineering to understand the effect of chemicals on nature. Environmental chemists may be involved in analytical testing, product development, safety and regulatory issues, public policy, law, or business. The chemical industry and government agencies employ most environmental chemists. 

Food and Flavor Chemists

Food chemistry is the study of the chemical interactions of food components. While food science involves chemistry, biology, physics, biochemistry, microbiology, nutrition, and engineering, the major component of food science is chemistry. Food and flavor chemists focus on the science of developing, processing, packaging, preserving, storing, and distributing foods and beverages. Most food scientists work in a laboratory setting, which includes standard scientific equipment, as well as common equipment found in the typical household kitchen. Food scientists are employed by the food industry, as well as government agencies. 

Forensic Chemists

Forensic science is application of science to law. A forensic chemist is a scientist who analyzes evidence from crime scenes. Evidence may include hair samples, bodily fluids, paint chips or glass fragments. The analysis of forensic evidence uses tools from many disciplines, including chemistry, biology, materials science, and genetics. Forensic chemists generally work in government labs, but spend a significant amount of time preparing and giving testimony in court.  

Medicinal Chemist

Medicinal chemistry is the design, synthesis and development of pharmaceutical drugs. Medical chemists typically work in pharmaceutical companies with biologists, toxicologists, computation chemists, pharmacologists and microbiologists to develop new chemical entities that have medicinal value. Opportunities for medicinal chemists also exist in academia and in government agencies. 

Polymer Chemist

Polymer chemistry involves the study and synthesis of macromolecules. A polymer is a repeating chain of small molecules joined together to form a macromolecule. Polymer chemists study the molecular structure of a macromolecule to understand functional characteristics, in order to develop advanced polymer materials. Polymer chemists are employed in industry, government, and academia in areas such as adhesives, coatings, synthetic fibers, packaging, automotive, aircraft, aerospace and biomedical devices. 

Science Writer

The science industry employs writers to prepare written material such as magazine articles, scientific bulletins, government grants, technical manuals, press releases and advertisements. Science writers typically work in one of four career areas: science journalism, public communications, technical writing or editing. Many science writers are self-employed or work part-time, providing services for private companies, government agencies, and professional societies on specific projects.  

Agricultural Chemist

Agricultural chemistry is the study of chemical changes involved in the production of crops and livestock. Agricultural chemists attempt to understand the impact of chemicals in the food stream and advise farmers, the government, and the agricultural industry on the effective and safe use of chemicals to improve and expand production of food. Agricultural chemists are typically employed in government agencies, academia and companies, which produce products related to food.  

Chemical Information Specialists

Chemical information specialists manage and organize scientific information for researchers, students and other professionals. The scientific information includes scientific journals, trade journals, papers, and patents. Career opportunities include being a scientific librarian, a technical information specialist, a market research consultant, a technical publisher, a software developer, or a computer programmer. Academia, libraries, chemical companies, market research firms, and management consulting firms typically employ chemical information specialists.