Chemistry – Albright College


What is Chemistry? (from

The scientific study of matter, its properties, and interactions with other matter and with energy. Science that deals with the properties, composition, and structure of substances (elements and compounds), the reactions and transformations they undergo, and the energy released or absorbed during those processes. Often called the “central science,” chemistry is concerned with atoms as building blocks (rather than with the subatomic domain).

What is this career like?

“Many chemists and materials scientists work in research and development (R&D). In basic research, they investigate the properties, composition and structure of matter and the laws that govern the combination of elements and reactions of substances to each other. In applied R&D, these scientists create new products and processes or improve existing ones, often using knowledge gained from basic research. For example, synthetic rubber and plastics resulted from research on small molecules uniting to form large ones, a process called polymerization. R&D chemists and materials scientists use computers and a wide variety of sophisticated laboratory instrumentation for modeling, simulation and experimental analysis.

The use of computers to analyze complex data has allowed chemists and materials scientists to practice combinatorial chemistry. This technique makes and tests large quantities of chemical compounds simultaneously to find those with certain desired properties. Combinatorial chemistry has allowed chemists to produce thousands of compounds more quickly and inexpensively than was formerly possible, and has assisted in the sequencing of human genes. Specialty chemists, such as medicinal and organic chemists, work with life scientists to translate this knowledge into new drugs.

Developments in the field of chemistry that involve life sciences will expand, resulting in more interaction among biologists, engineers, computer specialists and chemists.

Chemists also work in production and quality control in chemical manufacturing plants. They prepare instructions for plant workers that specify ingredients, mixing times and temperatures for each stage in the process. They also monitor automated processes to ensure proper product yield and test samples of raw materials or finished products to ensure that they meet industry and government standards, including regulations governing pollution. Chemists report and document test results and analyze those results in hopes of improving existing theories or developing new test methods.”

Related Career Titles (from

Agricultural Scientist Cytotechnologist Occupational Safety Spec.
Assayer Environ. Health Specialist Perfumer
Biochemist Fire Protection Engineer Pharmaceutical Sales Rep
Brewer Lab Assistant Food Scientist Technician Physician
Cepalometric Analyst Forensic Chemist Planner
Chemical Oceanographer Genetic Counselor Plastics Engineer
Chemistry Technologist High School Teacher Product Tester
Clarifying Plant Operator Hospital Administrator Quality Assurance Mgr.
College Professor Hydrologist Risk Manager
Color Development Chem. Industrial Hygienist Science Lab Technician
Crime Lab Analyst Molecular Biologist Soil Scientist
System Analyst Tissue Technologist Toxicologist
Underwater Technician Vector Control Assistant Veterinarian
Wastewater Treatment Chem Water Purification Chemist Yeast Culture Developer
Anesthesiologist Chemistry Professor Clinical Specialist
Computer Software Eng. Co-op Extension Agent Dentist
Entomologist Environmental Engineer EPA Inspector
FDA Inspector General Surgery Resident Hydrogeologist
Industrial/Institutional Buyer Lawyer Medical Technologist
Metallurgist Museum Curator Nurse
Occupational Health Spec. Optometrist Patent Agent
Pharmacist Product Development Mgr Psychiatrist
Radiologist Scientific Photographer Senior Report Writer
Specification Writer Water Scientist

Learn more about the occupations listed above by going to

How do you get ready? 

  • 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. 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-tech scientific 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 Major Skills (from

Developing theories Science and math ability
Conduct research Perseverance
Attending to data Analytical skills
Curiosity Follow-through skills
Utilizing formulas Perform experiments
Process data Observation and decision making
Work independently and in groups Technological skills
Oral and written communication Remain objective

What about the future?

“Employment of chemists and materials scientists is projected to grow 3 percent from 2014 to 2024, slower than the average for all occupations. Many chemists and materials scientists are employed in manufacturing industries that are projected to decline. Employment of chemists is projected to grow 3 percent as they continue to be needed in scientific research and development (R&D) and to monitor the quality of products and processes. Employment of materials scientists is projected to grow 3 percent as demand increases for cheaper, safer, and better quality materials for a variety of purposes, such as electronics, energy, and transportation.”

Learn more about the employment outlook of chemists and other careers by going to

Available at Albright College Career Development’s Resource Library

  • Great Jobs for Chemistry Majors, by Mark Rowh
  • Career Opportunities in Science, by Susan Echaore-McDavid
  • Careers for Competitive Spirits and Other Peak Performers, by Jan Goldberg
  • Careers for Environmental Types and Others Who Respect the Earth, by Jane Kinney and Michael Fasulo
  • Careers for Geniuses and Other Gifted Types, by Jan Goldberg
  • Careers for Introverts and Other Solitary Types, Blythe Camenson
  • Careers for Scientific Types and Others With Inquiring Minds, by Jan Goldberg
  • Opportunities in Chemistry Careers, by John H. Woodburn
  • Opportunities in Energy Careers, by John H. Woodburn
  • Opportunities in Environmental Careers, by Odom Fanning
  • Opportunities in Forensic Science Careers, by Blythe Camenson
  • Opportunities in Medical Technology Careers, by Karen Karni
  • Opportunities in Pharmacy Careers, by Fred Gable
  • Opportunities in Research and Development Careers, by Jan Goldberg
  • Opportunities in Science Technician Careers, by JoAnn Chirico
  • The Complete Guide to Environmental Careers in the 21st Century, The Environmental Careers Organization

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