Careers in chemistry

A degree in chemistry opens doors to a wide variety of employment opportunities. The range of available jobs is considerable and covers many different types of chemistry and industries such as nanotechnology, large scale chemical plants, the drinks and pharmaceutical industries or teaching.

Your skills will also be in demand in other areas. A study of chemistry helps you develop logical thought and numerical skills and the ability to write accurate and concise reports. As a result, our chemists are in demand in national and local government, in hospitals and in education at all levels.

Opportunities include, but are not limited to:

  • Analytical Chemist
  • Accountant/ Auditor
  • Chemical Engineer
  • Chemical Development Engineer
  • Lecturer
  • Environmental Chemist
  • Forensic Researcher
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Patent Agent
  • Purification Scientist
  • Toxicologist

Career opportunities in the UK and overseas

Our chemistry graduates compete very successfully for jobs in all branches of the chemical industry, both in the UK and overseas.

Our graduates are working in a range of interesting positions such as:

  • analytical chemists
  • chemical engineers
  • forensic examiners
  • forensic researchers
  • police officers
  • project engineers
  • development chemists
  • laboratory technicians
  • technical associates
  • research analysts
  • chemistry teachers

Our Chemistry International Alumni are almost 4,000 strong, working all over the world, in locations including:

  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Hong Kong
  • Middle East
  • USA
There are also major opportunities for chemists in non-chemical areas. Studying chemistry helps develop your logical thought, problem-solving and numeric skills, and the ability to write accurate and concise reports – all important for a range of jobs. Many Strathclyde chemistry graduates have found interesting and rewarding careers in areas such banking, finance, recruitment, marketing and the civil service.

How much will I earn?

The average salary of graduates in full-time work is £19,000. Senior chemists with management responsibilities could earn over £50,000.*

*Information is intended only as a guide.

Recent research has shown that chemistry graduates are better paid over a lifetime than graduates of almost any other discipline. They earn on average £60,000, €75,000 or $97,000 more than other most other graduates over a working lifetime, and around £190,000, €242,000 or $302,000 more than those with two or more A levels (but no degree). [Data taken from The Economic Benefits of Higher Education Qualifications, PricewaterhouseCoopers]

Hear from employers

Dr Salvatore La Rosa R&D Senior Director, Children’s Tumour Foundation, New York, USA

As a modern, non-profit Medical Foundation, we are looking for enthusiastic team players with a sound understanding of science, the drug discovery process and how the pharmaceutical industry is working. But we also look for a great communicator, presenter, project manager and negotiator.

"The non-profit sector is really specialising and creating a complete new demand for highly skilled individuals who are multi-faceted and very flexible. A chemistry graduate has a clear advantage over many other graduate students because, along with a solid knowledge of science, comes a strong problem-solving mindset which is the base upon which all the other valuable skillsets are built.

"The University of Strathclyde has proven over the years to have the right environment to create well-rounded graduates. This could be just the start of a wonderful career. Today you may get involved with the grant managing system, use your chemistry knowledge to actively scout for molecules useful to your cause, and convince a group of researchers to collaborate. Tomorrow you might be involved in the due-diligence process of an innovative oncology small molecule start-up, to managing an academic/industry mixed project, to presenting to a community of patients about your programs."

Dr David Kennedy R&D Director, Outside Innovation, Reckitt-Benckiser, Berkshire, England

“As a chemistry graduate at RB you will quickly see the application of your degree skills in real life situations.

"We look for graduates that aren’t just technically competent but that are also business-savvy and have strong interpersonal skills, so that they can leverage their technical knowledge to drive business growth and improve the lives of our consumers.

"A degree in chemistry is a great starting point for a career within RB because it gives you a very strong technical and problem-solving base, but the journey does not stop there, you’ll continue to grow with RB and develop the new skills you need to be successful. The environment is fast paced and we need graduates who can quickly adapt and apply their knowledge in different ways to solve consumer or technical challenges to drive a dynamic and global business to greater heights.”

Dr Michael Lynch Senior Researcher, Solid State, Servier, Orleans, France

Our up-to one year placements give students the opportunity to work in their chosen field and experience first-hand what the industry has to offer.

"With full support from the university, students are able to work with highly regarded firms and gain confidence working in real life situations. Additionally, students will have the chance to improve team-working skills and enhance their creativity as well as the opportunity to work with a variety of cultures."

Graduate destinations

Our graduates go on to work in a wide range of industries and organisations, including:

  • biotech and life sciences
  • food and drink
  • energy, environment and water
  • teaching and education
  • forensic science and police

Some of our recent graduate employers:

Chemistry Career