Building a Career in Chemistry After Graduation

by Ana Felce

Students choosing to major in chemistry have the opportunity to pursue a wide array of career opportunities. Think about it—chemistry is the study of matter, which makes up everything we touch. Accordingly, you’ll find there are many options to apply this study when it comes to building a career in chemistry after graduation. Here are a few different sectors in which you can use your degree to effect positive change.

Research and Development

When thinking about what careers a chemistry major can pursue, one of the first industries that comes to mind is manufacturing. But what kind of work would you find, exactly? In the development of new products or technologies, companies look for chemists to help with innovative research.

Almost every industry—from food and drink, oil, energy, and even cosmetics—relies on the work of chemists to keep the production process running smoothly. Chemical engineers and analytical chemists study chemical combinations and how these components interact with others. They focus on quality control, environmental studies, and policy reform to help ensure the products we use on a daily basis are both safe and functional.

If you’re curious about the way the world works, then a job as a research scientist might be the right fit. In this case, you’ll interact with researchers across different disciplines to conduct experiments in an effort to better understand the universe. As a research scientist, you can work in anything from astronomy to geology, materials science, or even meteorology. Combining a chemistry degree with another major can help you become a leader in a specialized field.

Medicine and Forensics

If you love science and have an interest in the medical field, but don’t want to be a doctor, studying chemistry can open the door to other pathways within health care. You might want to consider a pharmaceutical career, helping discover, develop, and market medicine. Or maybe you’re interested in studying diseases and working on development of new cures. If so, you may want to pursue work as a clinical scientist or medical researcher.

Another option—forensic scientist. If you’ve ever seen the television show CSI, you might think you know all about a day in the life of a forensic scientist. Unfortunately, the job isn’t quite how Hollywood makes it out to be—but it’s still a fascinating job that serves a very important role in bringing criminals to justice. You may work in the field gathering evidence, or play an important role behind the scenes conducting laboratory analysis. Employers in this field typically look for candidates with outstanding moral values, analytical skills, and knowledge of biology and chemistry.


Advancements in technology and a growing awareness of humans’ impact on the environment have created a societal demand for clean energy sources. Chemistry majors like you can make a difference in the world by leading the research that will protect the planet. As noted by Greentech Media, more and more large companies are investing in renewable energy—and they need experts in STEM fields like chemistry to innovate and discover how to both improve current green energy solutions and create new ones.

The reality is that you have many options for a career in chemistry after graduation. Having knowledge in a field that impacts every part of daily life means you can find industries that interest you, form your own path to success, and help make a difference in the world. Whether you want to continue on in research and development, medicine, or even share your knowledge as an educator, you’ll find that there’s no limit when it comes to what career you can build as a chemistry major.