If you are fascinated by chemistry and enjoy experimenting, this job could be ideal for you. Chemists study the make-up of chemicals and materials. They also investigate how they interact and behave under different conditions.
To be a chemist, you will need to have an enquiring mind and be keen to explore and solve problems.
You will also need an interest in technology and have good spoken and written communication skills so that you can record and share your findings.
To work as a chemist you would usually need a BSc (Hons) degree and sometimes a postgraduate qualification as well
As a chemist, you would use your knowledge to develop products and processes in a wide range of areas, for example:
• saving lives through development of new medicines
• analysing the environment and investigating climate change
• protecting health by keeping water supplies clean
• creating new products and controlling quality in the food industry
• finding ways to dispose of industrial waste safely
• inventing new artificial fibres and plastics
• diagnosing and treating illness and disease in the healthcare sector
• analysing forensic evidence in criminal investigations
• teaching, lecturing and academic research.
Whatever industry you worked in, you would follow complex procedures and use sophisticated hi-tech equipment. Your day-to-day tasks would include:
• designing and conducting laboratory experiments
• making observations and noting results
• writing reports and presenting your findings.
You can find opportunities with a wide range of employers including the NHS, public health laboratories, research institutes and government agencies. As a chemist working in industry, you could be involved in research and development, patent work, health and safety or forensic science.
You could also use your scientific knowledge in other areas such as teaching and the media.
Jobs are advertised in the local and national press, in scientific journals and by specialist recruitment agencies. You may also find the following websites useful for vacancies and general reading:
• New Scientist
• Chemistry World
• Jobs In Science
• Jobcentre Plus job search
• NHS Careers
You will usually need a degree in chemistry, applied or analytical chemistry, biochemistry or a related scientific subject. Many employers will also want you to have a relevant postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MChem, MSci, MPhil or PhD.
Some universities now offer an extended degree which leads directly to a postgraduate qualification such as MChem or MSci. These courses incorporate more independent research and are designed to lead directly into professional practice or onto further postgraduate study. See the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) website for more course choice information.
• Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) (courses)
To do a science-based degree, you will usually need five GCSEs (A-C) including science, English and maths, plus at least two A levels including biology and preferably chemistry. If you do not have a background in science, you may be able to do a one-year foundation or access to Higher Education course.
You should check exact entry requirements with individual course providers as other qualifications may be accepted.
Having some work experience may improve your chances of finding employment. It could be possible to gain experience whilst at university either as part of the course or by directly approaching employers. See the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) website for more information.
• Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
You may be able to start your career as a laboratory technician. You will usually need four or more GCSEs (A-C) for this. Many employers look for people with higher qualifications such as A levels, a Level 3 Diploma or an HNC/HND in a science based subject.
Once you start work you could study for a relevant degree on a part-time basis.
For more information about a career in science, see the Future Morph website.
• Future Morph
You will be given relevant on the job training. This may include laboratory techniques, IT software, and health and safety regulations. You may also receive management training if you have supervisory responsibilities.
Your employer may encourage you to work towards a postgraduate qualification or membership/fellowship of a professional body if not already held. For example, all public analysts, food analysts and agricultural analysts need to achieve the Mastership in Chemical Analysis (MChemA). This is a Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) qualification.
As an experienced chemist with in-depth knowledge of your specialist area, you may meet the requirements of Chartered Chemist (CChem) or Chartered Scientist (CSci) status. See the following website pages for more information.
• Royal Society of Chemistry
• Royal Society of Chemistry
The average pay for a Chemist is Rs 193,405 per year. Most people with this job move on to other positions after 10 years in this field. A skill in Quality Assurance / Quality Control is associated with high pay for this job.