A career with substance; in association with fish4 jobs Careers in chemistry If you have an enquiring mind and the ability to analyse results, a career as a chemist may appeal. Emma Thompson lit her Bunsen burner to find out more.
What does a career as a chemist involve?
As a chemist, you would study the make-up of chemicals and materials, and how they interact and behave under different physical conditions. You would use this knowledge to develop products and processes in a wide range of industries.
You could work in many different areas, including: developing medicines in the pharmaceutical industry; analysing oceans and investigating climate change; keeping the water supply clean; creating new products and controlling quality in the food industry; creating plastics and artificial fibres in the polymer industry; diagnosing and treating illness and disease in the healthcare sector; analysing forensic evidence in criminal investigations; or 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; and writing reports and presenting your findings.
What personal skills do you need?
You would need to have an enquiring mind, as well as clear and logical thinking plus good problem-solving skills and excellent communication skills.
A methodical, analytical approach to your work is needed, as well as the ability to work with and lead a team of professionals plus the ability to interpret statistics and use relevant computer packages.
What training do you need?
Most employers will expect you to have a degree in chemistry, applied or analytical chemistry, biochemistry or a related scientific subject, and possibly a relevant postgraduate qualification such as an MSc, MPhil or PhD.
You may be able to start as a technician in a chemistry lab, needing at least four GCSEs (A-C) including science, English and maths. However, many lab technicians have higher qualifications.
What are the opportunities for career progression?
If you do not already have a postgraduate qualification or membership/ fellowship of a professional body, your employer may encourage you to work towards this.
As an experienced chemist with indepth knowledge of your specialist area, you may meet the requirements of Chartered Chemist (CChem) or Chartered Scientist (CSci) status.
You could also work towards NVQ Level 5 in Analytical Chemistry.
What is the salary?
Trainee graduate chemists earn between pounds 18,000 and pounds 22,000 a year; with experience, between pounds 25,000 and pounds 35,000; or with postgraduate or professional qualifications, reaching pounds 50,000.
SEMTA (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance), www.semta.org.uk
Royal Society of Chemistry, www.rsc.org
Details are provided for information only. Jobs not necessarily available.
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