Information for parents or guardians to support children thinking about a future in chemistry
So you are supporting a child interested in chemistry and you want to help them make the right choices. Here are some pointers.
Chemistry itself is the science of matter at the very basic level of molecules and atoms. Chemists study what substances are made of, how they interact and their role in living things.
It is one of a group of chemical sciences which includes:
Chemistry is also the basis of other related disciplines such as chemical engineering.
Chemists work in almost any field you can think of, including:
Have a look around the career options area of the site for more ideas.
A chemistry qualification delivers skills that are valued by employers across a broad range of sectors, including non-scientific fields. Whether or not the person you are supporting goes on to a career in chemistry, they will benefit from skills which include:
Chemistry is a complicated subject, which requires a large body of knowledge. To study it at university a chemistry A-level (or equivalent) is required, which means studying it at GCSE (or equivalent), either alone or as part of science. It’s not a subject a person can pick up. If the child you are supporting doesn’t want to go to university at 18, there are other work-based routes available to pursue a career using chemistry.
Maths is a good subject to study alongside chemistry, as a good understanding of maths will help the study of chemistry. Maths is a requirement for some chemistry degrees.
At School - our guide to chemistry qualifications for post-16 students contains helpful advice and information to help you and the child you support decide which qualifications might suit them best.
After School - if they want to continue to study chemistry beyond school, there are a range of options at 18, such as a degree or work-based studies. Our After School guide will help them explore what’s best. Remember, though, that it is important that they choose the right university or course for them. There is no single ‘best’ course. The Royal Society of Chemistry also accredits university chemistry courses so you can be assured they meet the specific requirements and contain a high level of chemistry.
In choosing any career, it’s important to take into account the economic trends, in the world, the UK and locally. It’s no good training for something where there’s no demand. We live in a changing world and the child you are supporting may be a few years away from the world of work. Choosing chemistry as a career, though, will stand them in good stead. There will always be a demand for chemical scientists worldwide because chemistry forms the basis of so many materials and processes in the modern world.
Chemistry is also a global field so there will be plenty of opportunities to work abroad.
For a glimpse of the jobs of the future take a look at The future of work.
Encourage them to enjoy chemistry outside lessons and exams. Here are some ideas:
Salaries have increased in line with inflation, and while the gender pay gap persists, it is at its lowest-ever level
More than 360 degree programmes at over 60 universities are currently accredited by our well-established and respected accreditation system.
Industry leaders have called on the government and education bodies to help school pupils discover chemistry career paths