Employability skills

Chemistry gives you the right skills to work in any sector

Studying chemistry provides you with a whole range of useful skills and knowledge that are highly valued by employers in all sectors and in lots of different jobs. Let’s examine the additional skills you might gain through studying chemistry:

Scientific and technical knowledge

Obviously you will have specialised scientific and technical knowledge and this can be used in many jobs within science such as a research assistant or nanotoxicologist, or outside of the lab such as a patent attorney combining scientific knowledge with the specialist area of law. Having a technical or science background can be extremely attractive to employers, who may then wish to train you in another skill or discipline. Science also teaches you how and why things happen the way they do which is really useful for undertstanding the bigger picture, problem solving, influencing others and managing relationships and expectations. 

Numeracy

Essential in chemistry, this skill is valued by employers for many careers including accountancy, sales and marketing, retail and IT, to name just a few.

Handling data, software and technology 

You will have learned to understand and use computer software/models (including AI), handling, collating and analysising large amounts of data, using spreadsheets, word processing, electronic communication and maybe even coding. All these skills can be used effectively in many jobs, from management to finance and marketing, through to IT or data science. 

Communication

Your course will have enabled you to communicate through the written and spoken word with many different individuals and in teams. If you have been involved in teaching, supervising others or outreach work with schools then you will have learnt how to talk about and break down technical concepts and conversations into language that non-technical people can understand. Being able to adapt how and what you say and clearly communicate with different audiences from peers to supervisers or managers is vital in just about every sector and type of job. It is particularly valued in publishing, science communication, science policy and teaching

You will have developed advanced written and technical writing skills by writing detailed reports whilst working with fellow students and lecturers. Being able to communicate across diverse ranges of teams, project groups and abilities is a important skill in business as individuals and companies tackle increasing complex issues including sustainability managers, researcherspolicy researcherchief chemist and many more. 

Presentation skills are also important and these will have been developed as part of your course when presenting research findings. 

Logical thought processes and problem solving

You will have developed analytical thinking and problem solving skills through examining and interpreting results and making evaluations or recommendations based on limited information or data. Problem solving is an essential skill required at some level in almost all jobs including analytical chemistdiscovering new medicines and in management consultancy.

Time management and organisation are shown by planning and executing experiments, undertaking individual and team project work, and completing your dissertation, or working part-time during your studies. Through your course you will have managed your own work so self-management is another skill you will have developed. You will also display logical thinking and attention to detail through monitoring and systematically recording chemical properties, data and findings, following health and safety processes and guidelines, or arranging events. 

Project and time management

You will have planned assignments, seen them through and made conclusions. You will have managed your time through producing work to deadlines as well as working with delays or unexpected surprises. You will also have developed data-handling skills and the ability to undertake research.

Resilience could well be another skill from when you had to try again and rethink a task or experiment, or received challenging feedback or faced a difficult situation. 

You will have proved you are an independent thinker through conducting your own investigations and although you might not think it, you will have shown creativity and innovation in your work, as that is what chemistry is all about. Chemists have done things from founding their own skincare company to working with flavours and becoming a research innovation manager. There are so many options with the skills you gain through chemistry.  

Teamwork is another valuable skill gained through undertaking group project work. Also, by working through and completing your course, you will have started to develop management skills which could be developed further in a career.

This all goes to show that a chemistry degree doesn’t teach you just chemistry; the skills you will gain whilst studying are far broader and can provide a starting point for a whole range of careers.