Find out what a career in chemistry could mean for a child in your care
Chemistry 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.
The contribution (direct, indirect and induced) of chemistry-using professionals to UK GDP was estimated to be £87 billion in 2019. And there are estimated to have been 275,000 chemistry-using jobs in the UK in 2019, with a further 425,000 jobs supported by this workforce throughout the UK economy.
It is one of a group of chemical sciences which includes:
Jobs, sectors and locations of chemistry-using professionals
Chemists work in almost any field you can think of, including:
Whatever their plans for the future, having a chemistry qualification could really help. For some careers a chemistry qualification is essential.
A chemistry qualification teaches a wide range of skills that are valued by both scientific and non-scientific employers. These skills include:
In choosing any career, it is important to take into account the economic trends across the world, the UK and locally. It is no good training for something where there’s no demand. We live in a changing world and the individual 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, processes and demand for new medicines and medical devices continues to increase. Chemistry is also a global field so there will be plenty of opportunities to work abroad.
The Parental Guidance website has useful information on labour market trends. You may want to watch the short video Shift happens, which is a graphic illustration of how the world is changing. For a glimpse of the jobs of the future take a look at The future of work.
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.
There are various university degrees available so it’s important to explore the different courses available. However, it is important that they choose the right university and course for them. There is no single ‘best’ course. The Royal Society of Chemistry accredits university courses so you can be assured they meet the specific requirements and contain a high level of chemistry.
If university isn’t suitable there are also work-based options where they can gain workplace experience to kickstart their career in 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 undergraduate chemistry degrees.