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Chemists study chemicals and materials and how they behave under different conditions.
1. Entry requirements
You’ll usually need a degree accredited by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) in:
- applied or analytical chemistry
Many employers will also want you to have a relevant postgraduate qualification.
Most universities now offer both BSc (Bachelor of Science) and MChem/MSci (Master of Chemistry/Science) degree programmes. The entry requirements for the MChem/MSci courses are usually a little higher.
You may also be able to get into this career through a foundation degree, HNC/HND or higher apprenticeship.
You could also start your career as a laboratory technician and study for a relevant qualification part-time.
A Future in Chemistry has information about careers in chemistry.
Future Morph has information on careers in science.
2. Skills required
- scientific, numerical and technical skills
- a logical approach to solving problems
- the ability to analyse data
- the ability to make decisions
- excellent spoken and written communication skills
3. What you'll do
Depending on your role, you could be:
- inventing and developing new medicines and products
- investigating environmental issues
- diagnosing and treating illness and disease
- analysing forensic evidence
- teaching, lecturing and carrying out academic research
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- designing and conducting laboratory experiments
- making observations and noting results
- writing reports and presenting your findings
You may also supervise the work of support staff such as laboratory technicians, and carry out other administrative work.
Starter: £18,000 to £24,000
Experienced: £25,000 to £40,000
Highly Experienced: Over £50,000
These figures are a guide.
5. Working hours, patterns and environment
You'll usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, with occasional evenings and weekends. You may need to work shifts or be on an on-call rota.
Much of your work will take place in a laboratory.
Some travelling may be involved, for fieldwork or going to meetings and conferences.
6. Career path and progression
You'll usually be able to find work 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 move into teaching or a career in the media.
As an experienced chemist you could work towards chartered status like Chartered Chemist (CChem) and Chartered Scientist (CSci).
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Last updated: 11 September 2018