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:
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 or don’t happen, and how things interacts with each other through practical experiments. Being able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to understand what is happening is a really useful skill that is useful in problem solving, developing logical thought processes, knowing how to pitch your ideas, time and project management as well as managing relationships and expectations. These skills are valued by lots of different employers both within and outside of science.
This is an incredibly valuable skill in just about any type of work both in and out of science. From teaching to publishing to science communication to science policy where you can be talking to members of the public, young adults, politicians to people who fund research being able to communicate with different types of people is a vital skill in any type of work.
Your studies will have enabled you to communicate through written and spoken word when writing reports or technical papers or giving presentations (where you’ll also have learnt presentation skills when discussing your research). If you have been involved in group work, extracurricular activities, supervising the work of others, teaching or outreach then you will have learnt how to talk about and break down technical concepts into language that non-scientists can understand. Being able to clearly explain and adapt how and what you say with audiences and teams of different abilities and knowledge is an important skill in business as individuals and companies tackle increasing complex issues including sustainability managers, researchers, policy researcher, chief chemist and many more.
Teamwork is another valuable skill gained through undertaking group project work and collaborating with others both in-person and virtually. Science aims to solve big, complex problems and needs diverse groups of people who can quickly build productive work relationships and work together well, negotiate responsibilities or duties, persuade or influence others to see their point of view, or the value of their idea through pitching. In a team, you’ll also have had to discuss and decide what order tasks need to be completed which is prioritisation. You will also have needed to manage your own and the team’s time and resources to deliver against a deadline which is project management. By working through and completing your course, you will have started to develop management skills which could be developed further in a career. Working in a team shows lots of different skills and abilities to an employer.
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 chemist, discovering 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 a project or your dissertation, or working part-time during your studies. Through your studies, you will have managed your own workload so self-management is another skill you will have developed. You will also display logical thinking, the ability to learn new concepts and terminology quickly and attention to detail through monitoring and systematically recording chemical properties, data and findings, following health and safety processes and guidelines, or arranging events.
You will have planned experiments and 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.
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.
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.
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.