Chemistry combines theory, mathematics, and experimentation to study atoms, as well as the way they combine and react with other atoms. There are five main branches of chemistry: organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, physical chemistry, and biochemistry. There are plenty of sub-disciplines with each of these, such as metallurgy and geochemistry, as well. Chemistry degrees are offered at the associate, baccalaureate, master, and doctoral levels.
Taking a standard two years attending full time, an Associate’s in Chemistry qualifies graduates for entry-level positions in the field. Covering the introductory-level classes in chemistry, as well as mathematics such as calculus, it will give you an overview. Some institutions may even provide the chance to work in a basic laboratory setting.
Career paths for graduates with an Associate’s in Chemistry: Lab Technician, Lab Assistant, Research Associate.
This level of education will become much more hands-on and rigorous, requiring labs and an understanding of quantum mechanics. Analytical techniques, such as spectroscopy, are taught, and students may elect to take courses in specialized topics as they advance through their program, such as pharmacology, chemical kinetics, or industrial inorganic chemistry. Advanced algebra, differential equations, and multivariable calculus will also be likely candidates for the curriculum.
Baccalaureates in chemistry come in two different types of degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Chemistry or a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Chemistry. The BA will provide a more rounded education in the liberal arts, whereas the BS will be much more math and science intensive.
Career paths for graduates with a BA or BS in Chemistry include: Entry-Level Chemist, Scientist, Quality Control Chemist, Process Chemist, Analytical Laboratory Chemist, Production Chemist, Toxicologist. On average, Chemists make a salary of $73,480, though Chemists with a PhD make around $98,000 per year.
Refining your research skills during a two-year master’s program can provide the opportunity to advance in the chemistry field. Courses will likely be tailored to a concentration, which include more options within the five branches, such as Neurochemistry. If the goal is to earn a PhD, a master’s program, likely with a comprehensive thesis involving a newly-posed research question, must be completed. Master’s graduates are eligible to teach at the junior or community college level.
Graduates with a master’s degree in chemistry are qualified to work in manufacturing facilities and pharmacology firms. Career paths include: Professional Chemist, Hazardous Materials Expert, and Research Chemist, as well as more advanced status in previously-named roles.
Leadership and authority are the primary benefits of earning a PhD in Chemistry. Graduates are eligible for research positions in every discipline and sub-discipline of the field, as well as have the gravity to contribute new information through conducted research. This level of education is also the standard for teaching at the university level. Programs traditionally take anywhere between four to seven years to complete.