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 ScientistCytotechnologistOccupational Safety Spec.
AssayerEnviron. Health SpecialistPerfumer
BiochemistFire Protection EngineerPharmaceutical Sales Rep
Brewer Lab AssistantFood Scientist TechnicianPhysician
Cepalometric AnalystForensic ChemistPlanner
Chemical OceanographerGenetic CounselorPlastics Engineer
Chemistry TechnologistHigh School TeacherProduct Tester
Clarifying Plant OperatorHospital AdministratorQuality Assurance Mgr.
College ProfessorHydrologistRisk Manager
Color Development Chem.Industrial HygienistScience Lab Technician
Crime Lab AnalystMolecular BiologistSoil Scientist
System AnalystTissue TechnologistToxicologist
Underwater TechnicianVector Control AssistantVeterinarian
Wastewater Treatment ChemWater Purification ChemistYeast Culture Developer
AnesthesiologistChemistry ProfessorClinical Specialist
Computer Software Eng.Co-op Extension AgentDentist
EntomologistEnvironmental EngineerEPA Inspector
FDA InspectorGeneral Surgery ResidentHydrogeologist
Industrial/Institutional BuyerLawyerMedical Technologist
MetallurgistMuseum CuratorNurse
Occupational Health Spec.OptometristPatent Agent
PharmacistProduct Development MgrPsychiatrist
RadiologistScientific PhotographerSenior Report Writer
Specification WriterWater 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 theoriesScience and math ability
Conduct researchPerseverance
Attending to dataAnalytical skills
CuriosityFollow-through skills
Utilizing formulasPerform experiments
Process dataObservation and decision making
Work independently and in groupsTechnological skills
Oral and written communicationRemain 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

Links to Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by Albright College Experiential Learning and Career Development Center.

Job and Internship Search Links

Professional Association Links

Miscellaneous Links