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Chemistry Careers

Career Paths in Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry

After receiving bachelor’s degrees, most chemistry majors either begin graduate study or seek employment as chemists or medicinal chemists. Roughly equal numbers of UB chemistry graduates follow each of these paths. Approximately half of the students going to graduate school pursue the doctoral degree in chemistry. Others study medicine, law, education, or management.

Traditional careers in chemistry include teaching in high schools, teaching and conducting research at colleges and universities, and conducting research in industry and government labs. Chemists are employed in many industries, including pharmaceuticals, manufacturing (chemicals, plastics, food, paper, polymers, paints and coatings, adhesives, detergents, etc.), petroleum and energy, semiconductors, construction and metallurgical materials, and the automotive industry. Many chemists work in local, state, and federal government research, forensics, or analytical laboratories and at agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Armed Forces, and the State Department.

An ever-growing number of chemists are employed in non-traditional careers. Chemists have skills in problem-solving, analysis of data, and technical communication, and knowledge of core concepts in science. These skills are valuable in careers ranging from computing and information science to patent law to marketing to informing public policy.

The following references and links provide more information on careers in chemistry and medicinal chemistry:

  1. University at Buffalo’s undergraduate course catalog:
    Chemistry Careers and Further Study
    Medicinal Chemistry Careers and Further Study
  1. The American Chemical Society’s careers website
  2. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook
  3. Nontraditional Careers for Chemists: New Formulas in Chemistry; Lisa Balbes, Oxford University Press, 2007.