What can you do with your chemistry degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with a chemistry or analytical chemistry degree, and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Your study of chemistry will provide you with knowledge and skills that are valuable to employers:

  • scientific and technical understanding of organic, inorganic, analytical and physical chemistry concepts developed through lectures, laboratory work and independent research
  • laboratory skills and experience including: designing and conducting experiments; systematic sample collection and instrument calibration in preparation for analysis; monitoring and systematic recording of data and observations
  • advanced numeric and data handling skills: manipulating, interpreting and analysing experimental data 
  • verbal communication skills developed through conveying complex scientific information and delivering presentations
  • written communication skills developed through regular submission of concise, coherent laboratory reports 
  • problem solving, analytical and logical thinking with attention to detail through designing and conducting experiments in the laboratory and applying knowledge of chemical science to solve new and familiar problems
  • project management: designing and conducting scientific investigations from research and problem-recognition through to objective-setting, experimental design and execution to evaluation and conclusion
  • time management: producing laboratory reports and other assignments to competing deadlines.

Career options

Your skills and knowledge open up a whole range of different careers whether you want to be an analytical chemist or accountant. This versatile degree will equip you with a range of useful skills that are highly regarded by employers in job sectors as diverse as finance, IT and marketing. Furthermore, 70% of graduate vacancies do not require a specific degree, so if you decided you wanted to work in an apparently unrelated field, opportunities are abundant.

Approximately a third of chemistry graduates work in a laboratory and it is worth bearing in mind that your skills and knowledge can be used in a range of settings not only away from the laboratory environment but in entirely different job sectors altogether.

 

Researching your career options

With such a wide range of careers open to you as a chemistry graduate, it is important to make sure you explore and research your options thoroughly so that you can make informed decisions about your future.

The following websites provide helpful information for career research:

Royal Society of Chemistry

Prospects

TargetJobs  


Employment opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth chemistry graduates told us they were doing six months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs serve as ‘stepping stones’ to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Quality Control Analyst
  • Regulatory CMC (Chemistry Manufacturing & Control) Associate
  • Design Technician
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Quality Assurance Technician
  • Assistant Scientist
  • Development Scientist
  • Research Scientist
  • Site Chemist
  • Data Analyst
  • Chemistry Teacher
  • Sales Engineer
  • Billing Solutions Analyst
  • IT Technician
  • Finance Analyst
  • Trainee Chartered Accountant
  • PhD Researcher 
  • Sales & Marketing Director
  • Assistant Production Manager


Employers to consider

AkzoNobel

Almac

Associated British Foods

AstraZeneca

AWE

Babcock International

BASF

Bayer

Cellmark

Charles River Laboratories

Croda Europe Ltd

Environment Agency

Key Organics

Knight Scientific

NHS Jobs

Plymouth Marine Laboratory

Scymaris

South West Water

Fugro

GSK (GlaxoSmithKline)

Merck

Met Office

Novartis

Parexel

Pfizer

Procter & Gamble (P&G)

QinetiQ

Reckitt Benckiser (RB)

Roche

Sanofi

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

Syngenta

The Technology Partnership (TTP)

Torbay Pharmaceuticals

UCB Celltech

Unilever.

Further study

Further study

Some of the careers chosen by chemistry graduates will require or benefit from further study, so this should be considered carefully. The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options related to chemistry:

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation.

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme;

Find a Masters

Find a PhD

Prospects

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Skills Workshops can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Gain work experience

Undertaking work experience in your first and second years will help you stand out from the crowd when the time comes for you to complete applications for graduate employment and further study. Work experience develops valuable skills and qualities that employers are looking for and is essential for many roles. It can also help you to confirm or rule out particular career choices. Furthermore, experience in the workplace can bring you into contact with people who may be able to assist you at the beginning of your career.

You have plenty of options open to you. You could apply for a placement year, work part-time around your studies, undertake volunteering or approach organisations directly to negotiate short periods of work experience. Some organisations offer paid internships over the summer or of one year’s duration, you could research the many organisations offering summer internships, notably GSK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer. Many students also find their own paid or voluntary placements by making speculative applications to companies that interest them. In the past Plymouth chemistry students have been successful in securing paid summer research placements abroad through the IAESTE scheme

The University of Plymouth Students’ Union also offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities.


Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so definitely approach them for advice and insights into the careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.


Clubs and societies

Playing sport or being part of a society shows employers you are engaged and can seek out opportunities. It also helps you improve your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to chemistry such asChemSoc or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, all of which can help you to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.