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Readers Respond: Working as a Chemist

Responses: 242


Are you a chemist? What would you tell someone interested in becoming a chemist about your job? Please share information about your career so that someone thinking about becoming a chemist can make an informed decision.
  1. What type of chemist are you?
  2. What do you do as a chemist?
  3. What is the best/worst part of your job?
  4. What training did you need? Was it easy/difficult to find a job as a chemist?
  5. Are you happy being a chemist? Why?
  6. What advice would you give someone interested in chemist?
How Do You Like It?

Graduate in 2004

I love chemistry...Its really fun and challenging...but only in terms of theories...working in lab sucks!!!long hours sometimes until midnight depends on experiment...underpaid...but thats not the main concern...i realize my health deteriorate significantly...labwork make me dizzy...
—Guest K


Hi everyone Hope you are well.My name is Ellie ,I came from overseas to Usa around 1 year age and my background is in chemistry and I'm looking for a job and I'm interested to get a job in branch of cleaning product or home care , shampoo, liquid dish soap and somting like that but I'm not sure ,is it nessesary to have a California License or my pure chemistry license from over seas it will be enough for get these jobs, I appriciate it ,if you can help me Thank you so much . ...
—Guest ellie

my life is love for chemicals

u know madum i am obstitonous about chemistry always all of knowlage madum my almost teachers are my familier and all science knowlage i am quarling for taking knowlage of chemicals because i said to my friends chemicals is my beautiful wife so i take chemical knowlage by taking admission of science ok god is great because there is knowlage is greatest thing afer our mother and father god bless u all chemical scientists each and every day
—Guest prashant hiremath

Tough Career

Unless you do Engineering, you can literally make more money being a Professional Secretary than a Chemist. Private Industry has many layoffs, so most jobs are in Government. Fed's require higher degrees and is very competative. State employment is low wage. I've been in and out and for a 4 year degree, it's little better than being a Sociologist. Today, a 40+k career is what 25k was 20 years ago. My advice, short of Engineering in the name is to avoid Chemistry unless you have strong math skills and don't care about the world and want to work in the Petro Chemical industry. I have NEVER worked in a Chemistry job that doesn't expose you to hazards and ignore OSHA. So you have a much higher chance of cancer than in many other fields.
—Guest ChemistDude

I love it

I actually love chemistry as well as computer so i would be graduating highschool in 2 months and so i have to decide between chemistry or computer science. But in the end it doesnt matter how much you get paid or how famous you would be or how you would impress people because in the end one does a great job in the one they love most. So if you love it take it.
—Guest Wala

"chemistry man"

i'm an chemistry fan 10th pass and expert in making acids,bases,salts i love chemistry journals and spend 24/7 reading chem and doing experiments
—Guest shubhamc

Average chem student

I have a BS in Chem. But most of what I know from chemistry was learned when I was getting my 2 year chem tech degree. I got lucky and started working for a drug company earning about 16 bucks an hour as a lab tech without my BS. My GPA was low because I was already working and knew that getting the degree was the only thing that mattered. Having a high GPA was not worth the trouble. Earning a "C" in physical chem and biochem was enough for me to graduate. I moved up the ladder and became a scientist after I got my BS. To anyone frustrated in the science industry, go into sales as a Pharma Sales Rep. I got out of the lab 3 years ago after I finished up my BS in Chem and now I earn a base salary of $75,000. The path to wealth is in sales. No one outside of the lab cares how the drug was created. All the company cares about is sales numbers. All doctors care about are the worse side effects for patients. All the patients care about is the cost of the drug. Get focused!
—Guest Luck is greater than Logic


Being a chemist is a great carrier. It's depend how you use your degree. If you are degree holder in chemistry and have really great interest and knowledge in chemistry, in brief if chemistry really running in your blood then you can make millions. It,s all depend how you use your degree and knowledge.
—Guest Sunil Dutt

Its a horrible career choice.

Majoring in chemistry was a mistake. I would have been much better off staying in construction. Went back to school at 20, graduated in 4 years and I have been looking for a job in chemistry for 4 years now. I keep a record of applications which stand at 1,567. It landed me three interviews. One was a good job, better than the factory job I currently have but I didn't get it, and that job was a field type of work, not really chemistry chemistry, I was interview because of the experience on my resume not much because of the degree. The other interview was for a German company, seem like an okay company and i would have taken a 1/3 paycut if I wanted the job. The other company offered a lab technician job, a 2/3 paycut from my factory job would have been the case. None of my university friends make more than I do and I do labor at a high paying factory, that job I got while still in school. I'll probably be a manager in 10 years in part because of my BS. Do something else, believe me
—Guest Canada BC

No advancement and an uncertain future

Everything negative said here is all so tre and what I have sadly been suckered into. Don't believe te "We need more scientist" lie either, we have a huge glut of Chemist who didn't grt into medical school or failed. Don't get fired, quit, or laid-off because if you find another job, you would have to start alllll over! Nothing but carrot on a stick scam jobs that treat you like a slave with low pay, no benefits, no real life, and no respect. Being a chemist is an unstable and terrible career I regret fulfilling. You spend years and hours living in the lab, getting high grades, sucking up to professors and bosses, and wasting a huge chunk of you life fulfilling a degree that leads to nowhere. I wish I would have partied more, had a life, and chose a better major at the time like my friends who are making more money and have a family. As I watched my life deteriorated more, I put my foot down. I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in medicine. Thank God I am out!
—Guest Ex-Labserf/Chemist

whats wrong with you people ??

if you love chemestry, and you love science, how does it matter how much money you get ? i know i live in denmark and dont need the "bennefits" wich i assume is health care. but still. if you cant find a job that earns you enough money to live, then move. if you're willing to move then you should have good options. im probably going to move too the UK or australia, where there are job options as far as i hear, when i get my degree of course.
—Guest not a chemist yet

Carry on, Wage Monkeys!

Chem BS 1992. Started in chemical production for low pay, long hours, dangerous work with hazardous materials, slave driving boss and pathetic raises (10 cents per hour anyone?). Moved into management after 10 years and finally earned a living wage. Now I hire bright hopeful souls fresh out of school with their shiny Chem degrees into bait-n-switch temp-to-perm positions. Best kept secret, the BS chem grads don't earn anymore than their HS diploma counterparts! They work their tails off in a dangerous profession for lousy pay and an increased risk of cancer all for the potential that they just might get a permanent job with a company that considers them just another wage monkey makin' the donuts. Do yourself a favor and go into something useless like banking, business or finance - - it pays better, and you get vacation. Don't get me started about the ACS and their agenda to train more chemists; more chemists = cheaper labor.

How Do I Like Being a Chemist

I've been a college chemistry instructor for over 20 yrs and I love it! I too have heard the same woes about being a chemist and my question is, "How flexible are you willing to be?" Everyone with a science degree is not going to discover the cure for cancer. There are many types of employers who want chemists -- not because they know the difference between a beaker and a flask but because we possess analytical reasoning skills that many people in the general populace do not. Professionals such as: environmental scientists, regional sales managers, food scientists, forensic scientists -- and of course educators, often began as chemists. If your dreams of being the next Robert Lefkowitz (Chemistry Nobel Laureate, Duke Univ.) are not coming true, perhaps it's time for "plan b". Please, however, do no knock the science and remember why you majored in chemistry. Did you do it for fame and fortune (maybe you should get an MBA) or did you do it because it was cool and you loved the science?

not the most fulfilling work

I graduated with my B.S. in chemistry in 2008 and I was able to find a job in about 3 months. I currently make about 27 an hour, but I'm really not too thrilled with what I'm doing. I work in a manufacturing plant that runs 24/7 and I am incredibly lucky to have a day shift position as a QC technician. I work a 12 hour shift and I spend most of that shift on my feet doing mindless, repetitive tasks. Honestly, I don't get a ton of fulfillment out of what I"m doing, but I also realize that my life could be a LOT worse. Anyways, if you're going to get a BS in chemistry I would tell you to expect to work for a temp company and expect to make 10 - 15 an hour and work night shift or - worse - swing shifts. I never knew what I was getting myself into when I wanted to be a chemist.
—Guest lab tech


What's d most lucrative part of industrial chemistry? Such dat one can do and be successful in life
—Guest james

How Do You Like It?

Working as a Chemist

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