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.
|Full-time employment in the UK||42.8|
|Part-time employment in the UK||7.2|
|Working and studying||4.0|
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|
|Business, HR and finance professionals||15.8|
|Retail, catering, waiting and bar staff||11.9|
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:
|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.
Get science, research and development related careers advice.