Skip to content

Be Bold Blog

The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason. Our blog is dedicated to helping you explore your future career possibilities and how to make the most of your college experience.

What Can You Do with a Chemistry Degree?

What do you learn in a chemistry major?

Chemistry majors gain a foundational understanding of biology, chemistry, physics and calculus. If you’re not fond of lab work you may want to choose a different degree, as chemistry students spend a lot of time participating in hands-on laboratory research and experiments.

In an undergraduate chemistry program, students can expect to learn:

  • Research methods
  • Data analytics
  • Technicality of problem solving
  • Laboratory skills
  • Precision and attention to detail
  • Synthesizing information

These skills are gained through a collection of courses that help prepare students for the workforce. Your exact curriculum will vary based on the school, but you can get a taste of what to expect by reviewing the list of courses included in the University of St. Thomas – Houston (UST) program.

UST chemistry students will take the following courses:

  • General Chemistry I and II (with lab)
  • Organic Chemistry I and II (with lab)
  • Biochemistry (with lab)
  • Analytical Chemistry (with lab)
  • Advanced Organic Chemistry (with lab)
  • Inorganic Chemistry (with lab)
  • Thermodynamics and Reaction Kinetics (with lab)
  • Scientific Communication
  • Calculus
  • General Physics (with lab)
  • University Physics (with lab)

What can you do with a chemistry degree? 5 careers to consider

Chemistry majors have many potential career paths to pursue, including some that don’t require additional education. Industries of all kinds are hiring chemistry graduates, including:

  • Manufacturing and production companies (ranging from tools, chemicals, instruments, oil and gas, to pharmaceuticals, plastics, cosmetics and agriculture)
  • Forensics laboratories
  • University laboratories
  • Government laboratories
  • High schools

Now that you know what to expect from this major, let’s explore a handful of the many jobs you can get with a chemistry degree.

1. Research Chemist

Research chemists are responsible for conducting chemical studies, analyzing data and developing new products. Research chemists work in team settings, so they need to communicate effectively and be highly technically skilled.

They often specialize in a subfield, such as analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, physical chemistry or inorganic chemistry. Depending on the subject, they may use a wide of array of tools, computer programs, lab equipment and machines in their work. The day-to-day duties of a research chemist typically include:

  • Discovering naturally occurring chemicals and/or synthesizing new ones
  • Writing reports and documentation
  • Running organic and inorganic processes
  • Managing the supply of chemicals and materials.

Research chemist education requirements: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry can be sufficient for many entry-level chemist positions, but if you want to work in a university or become a specialist, you may need an advanced chemistry degree.

2. Physician

Medical schools admit students from all kinds of academic disciplines, not just scientific ones. But it can’t be denied that, historically, a bachelor’s degree in chemistry has been one of the most popular majors for pre-med students.

There are good reasons for this – as a chemistry major, many of your core classes will serve “double duty” in that they also satisfy requirements for the pre-med track. Plus, you’ll develop excellent lab work, research and technical skills that will be come in very useful while you train to become a physician.

While there are many sub-fields for clinicians and medical doctors to choose from, the basic duties of a physician include:

  • Taking a patient’s medical history, performing physical exams and ordering tests
  • Documenting charts and patient information
  • Recommending, designing and implementing treatment plans
  • Addressing concerns or answering questions that patients have about their health and well-being

Physician education requirements: After completing a bachelor’s degree, aspiring physicians and surgeons must apply to medical school and earn either a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. It typically takes approximately seven to nine years to become a licensed and practicing doctor.

3. Pharmaceutical Chemist

Pharmaceutical chemists play a very important role in the healthcare system. They are responsible for researching, creating and testing new plant-based and synthetic drugs. Their work helps treat and cure people suffering from disease or illness, and advances modern medicine with every discovery.

Duties for these professionals include:

  • Designing and running experiments to find more uses for existing medicines
  • Developing new formulations that target specific conditions or disorders
  • Analyzing clinical trial data and assessing the safety of new drug formulations
  • Working with clinicians to figure out potential applications for new drugs based on research findings

Education requirements: A B.S. in Chemistry is sufficient for many entry-level pharmaceutical chemist positions, although many chemists also earn advanced degrees as their career progresses.

4. Pharmaceutical sales representative

If you’re great at science and consider yourself an extrovert, a job in pharmaceutical sales could be an excellent fit. Pharmaceutical sales representatives teach doctors, nurses and other medical professionals about emerging drugs and treatments. These professionals are employed by drug companies and frequently specialize in a certain class of medication (e.g., antibiotics, blood glucose regulators, anti-depressants or cardiovascular agents.)

Pharmaceutical sales reps travel often to meet healthcare providers in clinical, hospital and officing settings. An average week for a pharma sales rep might involve:

  • Understanding and explaining each drug’s chemistry, uses, potential side effects and interactions
  • Reaching out to potential new customers within their assigned sales territory
  • Networking and presenting at industry events, conferences and workshops
  • Maintaining relationships with existing customers

Education requirements: Most pharmaceutical reps hold an undergraduate degree of some kind, and a B.A. or B.S. in Chemistry is an excellent option.

5. Food Technologist

Food technologists are responsible for researching, developing and managing the production of food for both humans and animals. Much of their job revolves around ensuring substances labeled “edible” are safe to consume and compliant with strict nutritional and production standards. They may also source ingredients for food products and innovate new ways to process, store and preserve food without sacrificing nutrition or taste.

As a food technologist, you are likely to work in a laboratory or office setting at a manufacturing company. Your duties might include:

Food technologist education requirements: A Bachelor of Science in Chemistry – or in food science, biochemistry, microbiology or other appropriate area – is recommended for a career in food technology.

Launch a fascinating STEM career with a chemistry degree

The expert faculty, small classes and individualized support that UST offers creates the perfect launchpad for your career in STEM. Explore our Chemistry program for more information.

Ready to take the next step?

Related articles

About UST

The University of St. Thomas (UST) is Houston’s Catholic University, committed to the religious, ethical and intellectual traditions of Catholic higher education. For more than 70 years, we’ve been graduating students like you into successful careers in medicine, education, business, public administration and more – throughout Houston and across the globe.

Learn more about what UST has to offer.

Translate »