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Career in Chemistry Fields


WHAT IS CHEMISTRY?

Chemistry is the branch of science concerned with the substances of which matter is composed, the investigation of their properties and reactions, and the use of such reactions to form new substances.

Chemistry is the study of matter, its properties, how and why substances combine or separate to form other substances, and how substances interact with energy.

Anyone who studies chemistry is a chemist. Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which substances react with each other. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.


BRANCHES OF CHEMISTRY

There are five main branches of chemistry, each of which has many areas of study.

Analytical chemistry uses qualitative and quantitative observation to identify and measure the physical and chemical properties of substances. In a sense, all chemistry is analytical.

Physical chemistry combines chemistry with physics. Physical chemists study how matter and energy interact. Thermodynamics and quantum mechanics are two of the important branches of physical chemistry.

Organic chemistry specifically studies compounds that contain the element carbon. Carbon has many unique properties that allow it to form complex chemical bonds and very large molecules. Organic chemistry is known as the “Chemistry of Life” because all of the molecules that make up living tissue have carbon as part of their makeup.

Inorganic chemistry studies materials such as metals and gases that do not have carbon as part of their makeup.

Biochemistry is the study of chemical processes that occur within living organisms.


FIELDS OF STUDY IN CHEMISTRY

Within these broad categories are countless fields of study, many of which have important effects on our daily life. Chemists improve many products; from the food we eat and the clothing we wear to the materials with which we build our homes. Chemistry helps to protect our environment and searches for new sources of energy.

Analytical chemists- determine the structure, composition, and nature of substances, by examining and identifying their various elements or compounds. They also study the relationships and interactions between the parts of compounds. Some analytical chemists specialize in developing new methods of analysis and new techniques for carrying out their work. Their research has a wide range of applications, including food safety, pharmaceuticals, and pollution control.

Inorganic chemists- study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that do not contain carbon, such as metals. They work to understand the behavior and the characteristics of inorganic substances. Inorganic chemists figure out how these materials can be modified, separated, or used in products, such as ceramics and superconductors.

Medicinal chemists- research and develop chemical compounds that can be used as pharmaceutical drugs. They work on teams with other scientists and engineers to create and test new drug products. They also help develop new and improved manufacturing processes to produce new drugs on a large scale effectively.

Organic chemists- study the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules that contain carbon. They also design and make new organic substances that have unique properties and applications. These compounds have, in turn, been used to develop many commercial products, such as pharmaceutical drugs and plastics.

Physical chemists- study the fundamental characteristics of how matter behaves on a molecular and atomic level and how chemical reactions occur. Based on their analyses, physical chemists may develop new theories, such as how complex structures are formed. Physical chemists often work closely with materials scientists, to research and develop potential uses for new materials.

Theoretical chemists- investigate theoretical methods that can predict the outcomes of chemical experiments. Theoretical chemistry encompasses a variety of specializations itself, though most specializations incorporate advanced computation and programming. Some examples of theoretical chemists are computational chemists, mathematical chemists, and chemical informaticians.

Food chemists- Food chemists improve the quality, safety, storage and taste of our food. Food chemists may work for private industry to develop new products or improve processing. They may also work for government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration to inspect food products and handlers to protect us from contamination or harmful practices. Food chemists test products to supply information used for the nutrition labels or to determine how packaging and storage affects the safety and quality of the food. Flavorists work with chemicals to change the taste of food. Chemists may also work on other ways to improve sensory appeal, such as enhancing color, odor or texture.

Environmental chemists- Environmental chemists study how chemicals interact with the natural environment. Environmental chemistry is an interdisciplinary study that involves both analytical chemistry and an understanding of environmental science. Environmental chemists must first understand the chemicals and chemical reactions present in natural processes in the soil water and air. Sampling and analysis can then determine if human activities have contaminated the environment or caused harmful reactions to affect it.

Agricultural chemists- Agricultural chemistry is concerned with the substances and chemical reactions that are involved with the production, protection and use of crops and livestock. It is a highly interdisciplinary field that relies on ties to many other sciences. Agricultural chemists may work with the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration or for private industry. Agricultural chemists develop fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides necessary for large-scale crop production. They must also monitor how these products are used and their impacts on the environment. Nutritional supplements are developed to increase the productivity of meat and dairy herds.

Agricultural biotechnology is a fast-growing focus for many agricultural chemists. Genetically manipulating crops to be resistant to the herbicides used to control weeds in the fields requires detailed understanding of both the plants and the chemicals at the molecular level. Biochemists must understand genetics, chemistry and business needs to develop crops that are easier to transport or that have a longer shelf life.

Chemical engineers- Chemical engineers research and develop new materials or processes that involve chemical reactions. Chemical engineering combines a background in chemistry with engineering and economics concepts to solve technological problems. Chemical engineering jobs fall into two main groups: industrial applications and development of new products.

Industries require chemical engineers to devise new ways to make the manufacturing of their products easier and more cost effective. Chemical engineers are involved in designing and operating processing plants, develop safety procedures for handling dangerous materials, and supervise the manufacture of nearly every product we use. Chemical engineers work to develop new products and processes in every field from pharmaceuticals to fuels and computer components.

Geochemist- Geochemists combine chemistry and geology to study the makeup and interaction between substances found in the Earth. Geochemists may spend more time in field studies than other types of chemists. They may travel to remote abandoned mines to collect samples and perform rough field evaluations, and then follow a stream through its watershed to evaluate how contaminants are moving through the system. Petroleum geochemists are employed by oil and gas companies to help find new energy reserves. They may also work on pipelines and oil rigs to prevent chemical reactions that could cause explosions or spills.

Forensic chemist- Forensic chemists capture and analyze the physical evidence left behind at a crime scene to help determine the identities of the people involved as well as to answer other vital questions regarding how and why the crime was carried out. Forensic chemists use a wide variety of analyzation methods, such as chromatography, spectrometry and spectroscopy.


WHAT IS THE WORK ENVIRONMENT AND SCHEDULE OF A MATHEMATICIAN LIKE?

Chemists and materials scientists typically work in laboratories and offices, where they conduct experiments and analyze their results. In addition to laboratories, materials scientists work with engineers and processing specialists in industrial manufacturing facilities. Some chemists also work in these facilities and usually are responsible for monitoring the environmental conditions at the plant. Chemists and materials scientists, who work for manufacturing companies, may have to travel occasionally, especially if their company has multiple facilities.

Chemists and materials scientists typically work on research teams. They need to be able to work well with others towards a common goal. Many serve in a leadership capacity and need to be able to motivate and direct other team members.

Chemists and materials scientists can be exposed to health or safety hazards when handling certain chemicals, but there is little risk if proper procedures are followed.

Chemists and materials scientists typically work full time and keep regular hours.


KNOWLEDGE AREAS THAT NEED TO BE ACQUIRED

  • Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

  • Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

  • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.


SKILLS:

  • Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.

  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.

  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.

  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.

  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.

  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

  • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.

  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.

  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

  • Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.


ABILITIES:

  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.

  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.

  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.

  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.

  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).

  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand

  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.

  • Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.

  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.

  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.

  • Fluency of Ideas — The ability to come up with a number of ideas about a topic (the number of ideas is important, not their quality, correctness, or creativity).

  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.

  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.

  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.

  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.

  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.

  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.


WORK ACTIVITIES:

  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.

  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.

  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.

  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.

  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.

  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.

  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.

  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.

  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.

  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.

  • Repairing and Maintaining Electronic Equipment — Servicing, repairing, calibrating, regulating, fine-tuning, or testing machines, devices, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of electrical or electronic (not mechanical) principles.

  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.

  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).

  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.

  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.

  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.

  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.

  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.


DETAILED WORK ACTIVITIES:

  • Analyze chemical compounds or substances.

  • Test quality of materials or finished products.

  • Maintain laboratory or technical equipment.

  • Prepare compounds or solutions for products or testing.

  • Monitor operational procedures in technical environments to ensure conformance to standards.

  • Establish standards for products, processes, or procedures.

  • Prepare scientific or technical reports or presentations.

  • Collaborate on research activities with scientists or technical specialists.

  • Develop new or advanced products or production methods.

  • Supervise scientific or technical personnel.

  • Manage scientific or technical project resources.

  • Research methods to improve food products.


PERSONALITY:

Work Styles-

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.

  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.

  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.

  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.

  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.

  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.

  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.

  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.

  • Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.

Work Values-

  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

Interest-

  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

Chemists and materials scientists need at least a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or a related field. However, a master’s degree or Ph.D. is needed for many research jobs and may also require significant levels of work experience. Chemists and materials scientists with PhDs and postdoctoral experience typically lead basic and applied research teams.

Undergraduate chemistry majors typically are required to take courses in analytical, organic, inorganic, and physical chemistry. In addition to chemistry coursework, they also take classes in mathematics, biological sciences, and physics. Computer science courses are essential, because chemists and materials scientists need computer skills to perform modeling and simulation tasks, manage and manipulate databases, and to operate computerized laboratory equipment.

Laboratory experience, either at a college or university, or through internships, fellowships, or work-study programs in industry, is also useful.

Graduate students studying chemistry commonly specialize in a subfield, such as analytical chemistry or inorganic chemistry.


PAYSCALE

The average salary as a chemist in India is Rs. 4,20,000.


Freshers can start with the salary of Rs 25,000-50,000 per month.

The higher the degree and the experience, higher the salary.


JOB OUTLOOK

The career prospects in the field has been steadily increasing with more and more use of information technology in the field of molecular biology. Job prospects are in all sectors of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and biomedical sciences, in research institutions, hospitals and industry. Some of the specific career areas that fall within the scope of bioinformatics include sequence assembly, database design and maintenance, sequence analysis, proteomics (the study of protein, particularly their structure , functions), pharmacogenomics, pharmacology, clinical pharmacologist, informatics developer, computational chemist, bio analytics and analytics etc.

The study of chemistry leads to a variety of careers and professions. Some enter medical, dental, veterinary, or other health professions, while others go for engineering, business, and environment science. Technical writing or sales in chemical marketing are other occupations in which a chemistry background is helpful. B.Sc. (Chem.) are employed in the companies that manufacture practically everything organic- drugs, food, cosmetics, textile, or chemicals. Food processing and pharmaceutical industries employ chemistry graduates as technical assistants. Chemistry graduates can also get jobs in quality control, analysis and testing, or in technical sales and services. Master's degree holders in chemistry generally find employment in one of three areas; Industry, Government, and Education. In industry, they may undertake research and development, quality control sales and technical service, technical or general management. They increasingly work in marketing. They may sell and provide technical information on chemical products and services. In addition, the government departments like water, soil conservation, forensic science, customs, industrial safety departments employ them in scientific analysis, research, policy development and administration. To do research, or to teach in colleges and universities, a Ph.D. is generally needed. You may work as a biochemist, biotechnologist, chemical engineer, food scientist, forensic scientist, environmental scientist, mining engineer petroleum engineer, Research Scientist, High school teacher, Quality control chemist, Chemist, Quality assurance, Quality manager, Laboratory assistant, Operations manager, Quality control inspector, Research Manager, etc.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

What is some good advice for Chemistry Students?

  1. The best way to learn chemistry is to come to each lecture having already read and studied the material that is going to be presented that day. This method of learning is known as the 'Flipped Classroom', sometimes referred to as 'Class Reversed', and it is a growing trend for teaching many subjects in schools and colleges nationwide.

  2. First focus on gaining understanding of fundamental concepts. Once you have a sound understanding of the fundamentals, you can spend time memorizing the details.

  3. Taking good notes, and then reviewing those notes, will help you to determine what you do and don't understand.

  4. A key to learning and studying chemistry is practice. Completing practice problems, solving equations, working formulas, etc. should be a core feature of your daily study routine.

  5. Take every opportunity presented to work in the lab.

  6. Use Flashcards

  7. Using a well-organized study group is a great way to tackle learning any challenging subject, including chemistry.

  8. When studying chemistry, break the material down into smaller pieces that you can master.

  9. Focus on Your Work, Not Your Grade. If you will focus on learning chemistry, your grade will follow.

  10. Jump in With Both Feet.

What is it like being a Chemist?

A chemist gets to transform mundane, everyday stuff into incredible things. Some discover cures for AIDS, a few keep check of the ozone activity and there are chemists who help create utilities that make life easier by implementing concepts such as induction, hydration and malleability.

Studying chemistry can make you a great problem solver in any career. The analytic skills honed studying advanced chemistry would even benefit you as a CEO. Chemistry is also fun and is universal. Chemistry has the envious job of creating new patterns from nothingness. With chemistry, you get to see how the universe of patterns works. Make that: the multiverse of every possible universe of patterns. When you make a discovery, there is nothing like it. When you prove a hypothesis or complete an experiment, it is as if you’ve bypassed all the noise of everyday life and peeked into a locked treasure box.


Is it worth it to study Chemistry?

Chemistry is intellectually satisfying, flexible, respectful and collaborative. It is an ever-learning subject. It helps you grow and discover. It also provides you with well-paid jobs. Indian chemists are far well known because of the strong education system.


Are Chemists happy?

Chemists rate their happiness above average. They are among the top 27% of careers in the happy and satisfaction scale. They rate their jobs to be intellectually satisfying, flexible, respectful and collaborative. It is an ever-learning subject. They root their happiness to the ability to make a choice at living a laid back or an ‘on your toes’ life or switch and balance the two.


Should I become a Chemist?

Chemistry is a great major especially if you're the type that wants to understand the physical mechanisms of the world. Chemistry is oftentimes considered the “central science” because it is often used to link physical sciences and the life sciences. Thus, if you are passionate about it, go for it. Get your facts straight and further you go!


What are Chemists like?

Chemists are intelligent and logical people. They are passionate and proud. They are innovative, creative and hard working. Chemists are people who are genuinely curious and intellectual. They mostly like taking things literally and analyze everything they come across. They are very interested in the mechanism and not the looks. They are creative and critical. They usually like to work in their own pace and space. They are observant, innovative and persistent. They hold high integrity and put a lot of effort to achieve or conclude to some result.


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