21 Highest-Paying Jobs and Careers for Chemistry Graduates

21 Highest-Paying Jobs and Careers for Chemistry Graduates

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Have you ever wondered what you can do with a chemistry degree?

Chemistry graduates have access to a wide range of jobs and careers. However, some chemistry jobs pay more than others, this is why we have gathered the highest-paying jobs for chemistry majors.

Chemistry is a wide field. Job opportunities mostly depend on the specialization of each chemistry graduate: organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, materials science, petroleum engineering, biochemistry, etc. For that reason, we will specify the requirements for each chemistry job as well as the potential chemistry career advancements.

Let’s dive in!

1. Chemical Engineer

Salary: $47 per hour (on average).

Training time: many years.

Workload: at least 35 hours per week.

Chemical engineers develop and manufacture chemicals such as cement, detergents, gasoline, plastics, food, water treatments, and synthetics.

There are many different types of chemical engineering positions, they all require different specializations and experience. The highest-paying chemical engineering jobs are:

  1. Chemical manufacturing engineers: These engineers focus on improving and deploying manufacturing processes. It is preferred to have followed a chemistry curriculum with an emphasis on chemistry manufacturing processes.
  2. Biochemical engineers: They research and produce products that are derived from a combination of organic and lab-made materials.
  3. Environmental engineers: This job is open to environmental science graduates as well as some chemistry graduates depending on the position.
  4. Petroleum engineers: They design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. This job requires a Master’s degree in petroleum engineering as well as a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering or a related field.

Other industries that might hire chemical engineers include pharmaceuticals, healthcare, construction, petrochemicals, food processing, specialty chemicals, microelectronics, polymers, business services, and biotechnology.

Job Information

  • Salary: $47 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: many years.
  • Workload: at least 35 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, chemistry, material science, or a related field.
  • Preferred: 2 years of experience as a technician in the related field.

2. Chemistry University Professor

Salary: $45 per hour (on average).

Training time: many years.

Workload: at least 40 hours per week.

Chemistry professors are responsible for conducting original academic research, supervising doctoral students, and teaching classes to graduate and undergraduate students. In many universities, full professors also take on senior managerial roles such as academic heads of departments, board members, and other academic positions (learn more).

At the university, chemistry professors can teach many different courses: general chemistry, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, analytical chemistry. chemistry laboratories, physical chemistry, and even courses such as physics and biology.

Job Information

  • Salary: $45 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: many years.
  • Workload: at least 40 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: A chemistry doctoral degree.
  • Preferred: Previous research experience as a research assistant or research scientist.
  • Preferred: Previous teaching experience as a teaching assistant.

3. Research Chemist

Salary: $40 per hour (on average).

Training time: many years.

Workload: at least 35 hours per week.

Research chemists study chemical compounds and use this research to create and improve manufacturing processes and products, from new medical treatments to manufactured goods such as cosmetics, electrical goods, and food.

There are many different chemistry careers that can lead to a research chemist position: medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, etc.

Job Information

  • Salary: $40 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: many years.
  • Workload: at least 35 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: undergraduate or graduate chemistry degree depending on the position.
  • Preferred: a minimum of 1 year of relevant lab experience.

4. Academic Researcher

Salary: $34 per hour (on average).

Training time: many years.

Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Academic researchers apply their expertise and skills developed through study to conduct fundamental research. They publish papers in peer-reviewed, well-respected journals. Chemistry academic researchers operate within a research group at a university. Sometimes, they teach courses for students in graduate school.

The main fields of research in chemistry are organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, physical chemistry, analytical chemistry, applied chemistry, and industrial chemistry. Each field has many hot research subtopics. For example, organic chemistry can be further divided into the chemistry of the various organic functional groups such as the chemistry of the alkanes, alkenes, alkynes, etc.

Job Information

  • Salary: $34 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: many years.
  • Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: A doctoral degree in chemistry or chemical engineering.

5. Chemistry Research Assistant

Salary: $22 per hour (on average).

Training time: a few weeks.

Workload: at least 15 hours per week.

Chemistry research assistants are responsible for setting up and conducting chemical experiments, analyzing databases, using techniques such as chromatography, spectroscopy, or microscopy.

Research positions are great for career advancement as it gives the opportunity to: 

  • Gain chemistry knowledge that is not taught in the classroom.
  • Develop a mentoring relationship with a faculty member or chemical organization.
  • Earn a letter of recommendation for doctoral school.

Most of the time, research assistants are hired to help professors with their academic research. However, some chemical companies also hire chemistry graduate students to help with their applied research. In any case,  these research positions are valued by students who want to pursue an academic career or a chemistry career within a prestigious chemical company.

Job Information

  • Salary: $22 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: a few weeks.
  • Workload: at least 15 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: An undergraduate chemistry degree.
  • Preferred: Academic or work experience related to the field of research. For example, some positions might require the chemistry students to have passed specific classes and have extensive knowledge about analytical chemistry, organic chemistry, or inorganic chemistry.

6. Chemistry High School Teacher

Salary: $21 per hour (on average).

Training time: many years.

Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Chemistry high school teachers teach academic lessons and basic chemistry knowledge that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Chemistry teachers help students learn about compounds, elements, molecules, atoms, ions, and chemical reactions.

Job Information

  • Salary: $21 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: many years.
  • Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: Earn a chemistry Bachelor’s degree.
  • Required: Complete a teacher preparation program.

7. Chemical Technician

Salary: $19 per hour (on average).

Training time: a few weeks.

Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Chemical technicians perform routine technical tasks in laboratories to support scientific investigations. Their duties include setting up laboratories for scientific research, conducting lab-based experiments, recording chemical properties, and analyzing results.

A chemical technician position is might open opportunities for interesting career advancement provided that you already have a chemistry degree: analytical chemists, organic chemists, biochemists, and other chemical engineering jobs.

Job Information

  • Salary: $19 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: a few weeks.
  • Workload: at least 20 hours per week.

Requirements

  • May be required: an undergraduate degree as a chemistry major or materials science major.

8. Teaching Assistant

Salary: $12 per hour (on average).

Training time: a few days.

Workload: at least 10 hours per week.

Teaching assistants support the professor in charge of the classroom. They also assist students with homework, test preparation, and other academic duties.

There are many classes that chemistry students can help with: organic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry. Chemistry students can also assist first-year physics and mathematics classes.

Job Information

  • Salary: $12 per hour (on average).
  • Training time: a few days.
  • Workload: at least 10 hours per week.

Requirements

  • Required: In-depth knowledge about the subject.
  • May vary: Some universities only hire teaching assistants from graduate school while others hire from anyone who has passed the course exam with flying colors.
  • Preferred: Previous experience as a tutor.

If you want to get an edge over your competition, feel free to read our guide: How to Become a Teaching Assistant in College.

9-21. Less Common Jobs for Chemistry Graduates

Chemistry graduates have many career opportunities that are more or less related to chemistry. Here are some fields where chemistry majors are high in demand:

  • Pharmacologists research how chemical substances interact with the body. They work as part of a research team that is responsible for screening compounds, developing drugs, and undertaking controlled experiments and clinical trials in laboratories.
  • Materials scientists study the structure of materials. They determine ways to develop new materials with different chemical and physical properties for use in a variety of products.
  • Environmental consultants help governments and large companies with the management of environmental issues.
  • Geochemists study the composition, structure, and other physical aspects of the Earth.
  • Hazardous waste chemists develop appropriate ways to dispose of hazardous wastes.
  • Toxicologists analyze bodily fluids and tissue during autopsies to determine the presence of toxins or chemicals.
  • Forensic scientists examine evidence from crimes and prepare legal statements that summarise the results for court cases.
  • Biotechnologists study the genetic and physical characteristics of cells and organisms.
  • Nanotechnologists manipulate molecules to develop new or existing technology.
  • Water chemists collect and analyze water samples.
  • Synthetic chemists make chemicals for manufacturing and industrial use.
  • Quality control chemists measure and test materials according to industry-specific standards.
  • Oceanographers study coastal water, sea life, and oceans.

Part-Time Jobs for Chemistry Graduates

If you are looking for a part-time chemistry job, I recommend the following article:

For part-time environmental science jobs, I recommend this list:

More Information About Chemical Engineering

This article discusses how hard it is to graduate with a chemistry major:

If you think that chemical engineering might be too hard for you, have a look at: