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Readers Respond: Working as a Chemist

Responses: 140



For those of you who lament your career choice, have any of you with B.S.'s in Chem made any effort to branch off into Chemical Engineering or Patent Law? I'm honestly just asking because I want to know if this is or isn't do-able. It would require a higher degree, but if it affords you a better career with better benefits and opportunities, why not just put the extra time into more school? The field can't be a complete dead end, can it?
—Guest Guest MathChem

Science and Engineering is a DEAD END

I'm working on an OChem PhD. The job market is horrible and has become worse for the past decade. My lab can't find jobs or post-docs, and this is a top institution on the west coast. Some people have went home unemployed or taken jobs that don't require a bachelors or their training. Everyone regrets coming into science, wishing they had spent their undergrad years partying with the business students instead of slaving in a lab. Science and engineering are seriously dead ends. Don't believe the salary statistics, it's bull. What they don't tell you is that it is taking 7-8 years for PhD and 2-6 years for post-doc because of the lack of jobs. They don't count all that in the statistics. Undergrads that have majored in STEM and left for finance and consulting have done well. As long as they don't touch a PhD program. They are respected and well paid. If you got the brains to do science, plz go elsewhere. I'm happy when I see one of our undergrads leave science, one less whiny victim.
—Guest OChemist

Chemist is not practical

Chemistry is too abstract and not very practical. You are trained at the graduate level to do research such as method development, compounds formulation. Not alot of companies out there looking for research chemists. Alot of smaller company only want low level, ie. college grads, to do the grunt works in the Analytical services industry. They want ppl to just do routine dilutions, sample prep, and instrument maintenance. The pay for these kind of jobs is maximum 18 dollars. 80% of chem grads with BSc or MSc will be stuck doing this jobs. Alot of chemists i know leave the field after few years. I hope employers will change their attitude towards chemists and offer some decent salaries. At this rate chemistry is gonna disappear entirely. maybe then, they can get the Chem. Eng. to work for for the same peanuts they are offering to the chemists now.
—Guest Another Chemist


I hate it. I went to school, did well, published a lot, earned a Ph.D all the while hoping I would quit being treated like a dog. It didn't happen. I was lied to my whole career. To heck with Chemistry.
—Guest geeze


DON'T DO IT!!! The pay is the HORRIBLE! I know high school drop outs that drive fork lifts at the company I work for that make like $10/hr more than I do as a chemist!!! I only make $15/hr w/ my masters degree and 4 years of experience and I get ZERO benefits!!! Sometimes at night I cry myself to sleep.
—Guest Crying Chemist

I make more money than most...

at about 45,000 USD/year, and 50,000 USD/year after bonus, but I still hate it. I live in the NYC area and this kind of money is abysmal for this area. I live in an area where there is at least one murder per week, because it is all I can afford! I'm currently back in grad school while working full time, pursing my MS/MBA combine degree. If you have any interest in supporting yourself, DO NOT PURSUE CHEMISTRY, especially at the B.Sc. level.
—Guest Regretful Chemist

Don't believe all comments

I see people saying they can't find any good jobs or getting less paying jobs. But, I want to say that it all depance on the location. I would suggest going to TX, NM, AZ, etc area to find jobs with this degree. The cost of living is very less there and you can make a decent money
—Guest NM

.. whaaat?

.. wow... reading all these responses makes me feel like crying. All my life Ive wanted to become a chemist.. its the only thing I ever had an interest in. I found this site while searching for scholarships. I feel so lost now.. but im glad i found this. It probably saved me from making a big mistake.
—Guest Crushed

Not a viable career anymore

I just want to add to the chorus and say that science is not a viable career in this country anymore. I mean why go to college to get a job that is worse than what you could have gotten with a GED. I have and MSc. and am headed back to school next fall to get another MSc though in accounting. I finally decided that I would like health insurance and $40k+. A science degree is a sure bet to end up defaulting on your student loans. Not worth it.
—Guest Hector

Life is What You Make It

One could find shortcomings in any field. Some MDs make less than $100K/yr after malpractice insurance while other make high $100s or more. I worked at a chemical company while going to school for my BS in Biology and Chemistry. I learned the field and got a great job offer from another company right after I graduated due to my experience. Also, having a chemist background doesn't mean you have to be a low end chemist forever...it can give you a firm foundation to transition into sales, r&d management or many other higher positions if $ isn't good enough. The challenge is up to the individual. You must pick your prospects and put your efforts toward fields and specialties that are more geared toward where you want to eventually be. Like everything, there are no absolute guarantees in life, but I think one can be much worse off than having a BS or MS in chemistry when filled with ambition and intangible street and business sense.


Chemistry is dying. Its not what it was 20 years ago. In order to get a good job at the bs or ms level you NEED TO KNOW SOMEONE. I have a B.S in chem. The major is hard, yet the pay off is weak. If your smart enough to do chemistry, then switch to chemical engineering, you'll make much more money, be in the same type of field(almost) and its only slightly harder. Federal buerau of labor puts chemists as a profession to grow much slower than average thru 2018, about 3%. Chem Eng is actually worse at -2 growth, but the starting salary is like 30-40% more. If your so set on chemistry, do biochemistry, its much easier and biochemist jobs are expected to grow much more. It will make getting into med or pharm or dental school easier too because youll do the bio classes required. Why the poor jobs and pay, all these chemistry jobs are being moved overseas. Good luck. Ill be going back to school soon for a second b.s. in engineering.
—Guest Mike


I am in my final semester of Chemical technology at a college. I was excited to graduate and start work to eventually live a comfortable life but after reading all those negatory responses, I am beginning to hate this field with out even having a job yet... I also have a friend who is always showing me links and pages such as this one where there are so many negative responces with such pay rates of 12$/hr.. COMMON MANNN
—Guest E to the D Y

Life is ruined

I am 30 have an MSc. and earn $15 an hour without any benefits. Chemistry is the worst. I regret the day I ever took a science class. I pray every day for a career change. Meanwhile I am boned.
—Guest ruined

my life sucks

I am an applied chemist and my life sucks. I studied applied chemistry from one of the top university in my country. But now i cant find ny jobs. chemistry is useless, i hate chemistry, I hate applied chemistry, I wish i could go back & change my major to IT.
—Guest ahmed

Poor Career Choice

I spent 4 years completing my B.Sc. and another 2 years for M.Sc. During my graduate studies i spent an average of 50h/week researching. After graduation, i make 18dollar/h with no benefit. An economic major who has a B.A, spent half the amount of time in school, now making 50k/year. I don't know about you guys...but the effort to reward ratio is seriously skewed for chemistry.
—Guest Chemist
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