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Career Opportunities in Chemistry

After obtaining an undergraduate degree in chemistry, many options are available.

The U.S. chemical industry is huge and employs a large number of B.S. chemists. The most common type of position is as an analytical chemist to monitor the composition of chemicals that are purchased and produced. In addition it is increasingly important to monitor the composition of effluent gases and water. For example, Clarksville's zinc plant, which produces about 110,000 tons of zinc per year employs about a half dozen BS chemists to meet its analytical needs. It employs no Ph.D. chemists because it does not have a chemical research and development laboratory. Companies that have a large product line of organic and inorganic chemicals typically have centralized research and development laboratories which employ Ph.D., M.S. and B.S. chemists. Production facilities of these companies will also employ M.S. or B.S. analytical chemists. Pharmaceutical companies employ chemists of all educational levels.

Independent laboratories.
Small companies that have a chemical component often use independent laboratories to perform analytical work rather than maintaining a lab themselves. Nashville has several such labs that utilize a wide variety of analytical methods. These labs hire all educational levels of chemists.

Government laboratories.
States as well as the U.S. government typically maintain numerous laboratories which employ all educational levels of chemists. For example, Tennessee uses chemists in the TBI forensics labs, in the agricultural labs, and in the environmental labs.

B.S. chemistry majors with appropriate education courses can teach in high schools. M.S. or Ph.D. chemistry majors teach in community colleges. Ph.D. chemistry majors are qualified to teach in colleges and universities.

Graduate school.
Many of our majors have continued their education in chemistry graduate schools. Most elect to attend Ph.D. granting institutions and are awarded teaching assistantships. The teaching assistantships are typically about $18,000 per academic year. Our graduates have received teaching assistantships and attended Vanderbilt University, the University of Tennessee, the University of North Carolina, Washington University, Ohio State University, the University of Louisville, the University of Georgia and others. Out-of-state charges are always waived.

Medical and dental professional schools.
Students who wish to go to medical and dental school must have an undergraduate degree. Many of those who enter these professional schools have a B.S. in chemistry.

More information.
Many chemistry companies have web sites from which much can be learned about career opportunities in chemistry as well as about chemistry. Web addresses are often on product labels. Some examples are listed below. If you find others that are very helpful, let us know and we may add them to our list.

Additionally, the American Chemical Society (ACS) maintains career services web pages which have information about careers in chemistry. You may also wish to post your resume with ACS or similar sites. Another useful chemistry job search engine is: http://www.chemjobs.net/

If you would like to discuss career opportunities in chemistry in more detail, feel free to contact one of the chemistry department faculty members.