Why Major in Chemistry?
(From the booklet Planning for a Career in Industry, published by the American Chemical Society, Committee on Professional Training.)
A background in chemistry is a powerful springboard to launch you into your career. Chemistry is the central science. It connects on one side with physics and mathematics, on another with earth and environmental sciences, and on still another with biology and medicine. A person with a bachelor's-level education in chemistry is prepared to assume a wide variety of positions in industry, education, or public service. It is obvious that a chemistry background is important if you plan to work in the chemical industry or to teach chemistry. It may be less obvious that a significant knowledge of chemistry is often required in professions such as molecular biology and biotechnology, hazardous waste management, art conservation, and forensic science. Many bachelor's-level chemistry graduates begin their careers working "at the bench" in a laboratory or in quality or process control in the factory. However, their background can make them strong candidates to move into sales, marketing, or management. In addition, an undergraduate chemistry degree may be effectively combined with advanced work in other fields, leading, for example, into work in the patent field (possibly with a law degree) or into higher management (sometimes with an M.B.A.).
It is often observed that today's graduate, unlike the graduate of a generation ago, should anticipate not a single position with one employer or in one industry, but rather may careers. You will be well prepared for this future if, in your college years, you take advantage of the opportunity to become broadly educated, to learn to be flexible and to work on a tea, and to be a creative problem solver. Knowledge and skills gained in your college courses may be directly applicable in your first job, but science and technology change at a rapid pace. You will keep up and stay ahead if you graduate with skills and self-discipline to pursue a lifetime of learning.