Degree subjects

What can I do with a chemistry degree?

25 Jan 2023, 13:38

Find out more about the range of graduate jobs open to you with a chemistry degree and look up the employment rates and first careers for recent graduates of this subject.

What can I do with a chemistry degree?

Chemistry students typically develop strong analytical, problem solving and time management skills, which make them highly employable in a range of professions. Many chemistry graduates go on to careers in business, science or education. This guide should help you think about the skills you have gained through studying chemistry, the jobs they can be applied to and the options available, and will give you some insight into which careers are particularly popular among chemistry students.

Skills for your CV

Specific skills you will have gained include:

  • critical and evaluative thinking
  • communication and interpersonal skills
  • research and analysis
  • good problem solving skills
  • discipline and a good work ethic.

Job roles and career areas you could work in

Chemistry graduates are in high demand in sectors that involve science and technology, including the following career areas:

You could also consider the following roles:

Our advice on different careers open to science graduates offers more ideas.

What do chemistry graduates go on to do?

Here’s what chemistry graduates who finished their degrees in 2017 were doing six months after graduating, according to the What do graduates do? report published in 2018.

Destination Percentage
Full-time employment in the UK 42.8
Part-time employment in the UK 7.2
Working overseas 1.5
Working and studying 4.0
Further study 33.2
Unemployed 6.3
Other 5.1

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Key areas of employment for fresh chemistry graduates

These are the top five areas of work taken up by 2017 chemistry graduates six months after graduation, according to the 2018 What do graduates do? report.

Areas of employment Percentage
Professionals in careers other than science, associate professionals and technicians 19.9
Science professionals 16.6
Business, HR and finance professionals 15.8
Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff 11.9
Other occupations 6.7

Source: What do graduates do? 2018

Which careers attract chemistry students?

For students of physical science subjects, energy and utilities was the most popular career choice identified by a 2020 survey of more than 71,000 undergraduates carried out by Cibyl, a research company owned by the same company as targetjobs. Just over a quarter ( 25.9% ) of students of physical sciences who participated in the survey said they were interested in this area. The most popular careers for this group, which includes those studying chemistry, physics, geology and earth science, were as follows:

Career Percentage
Energy and utilities 25.9% expressed an interest
Scientific research and development 14.3
Construction, civil engineering and surveying 13.7
Engineering, design and manufacture 11.3
Consumer goods – manufacturing and marketing 9.4

Source: Graduate Survey 2020

What salaries can chemistry graduates earn?

Want to know what graduates in your degree discipline typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided targetjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing just that.

Famous people with chemistry degrees

If none of these career options appeal, there are plenty of other paths open to you. Many people have graduated with chemistry and gone on to do very different things, including:

  • Margaret Thatcher – the former prime minister studied at the University of Oxford and then worked as a research chemist before going into politics.
  • Helen Sharman – the first woman and first British astronaut to visit the Space Station is a University of Sheffield graduate.

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