If you want to know the difference between titanium and titration, perhaps
a degree in chemistry is for you.
Chemistry grads find work in various employment sectors, from school settings
to environmental protection agencies.
Though there are many subspecialties in chemistry, you don't have
to decide right away what you want to focus on. The field is wide open at
the undergraduate level -- students do not need to specialize during their
first few terms.
If you want to work as a chemist, you'll usually have to take further
studies after your undergrad degree. A master's degree usually takes two
years and a PhD takes another four years after that.
Keep in mind that research and development jobs require a PhD. The
minimum requirement for entry-level positions (quality control, analytical
testing or assisting senior chemists) is usually a bachelor's degree.
Many colleges offer two- to three-year programs which give you a diploma
or an associate's degree. Plus, some colleges offer university transfer credits.
These courses may prepare you for some entry-level positions, or they can
be a cheaper way to do the first two years of an undergrad degree. Check the
individual college websites for more information on accreditation or transfers.
At the end of your program, you will have developed the capabilities of critical
and independent thinking, which should get your foot in the door of many
employers. Or you can seek higher-level degrees in other professional areas
such as medicine or law, says John D'Auria, a nuclear chemistry professor.
Computer skills are vital. "[Chemists] will be expected to prepare
lab reports on computers; use computers to control instrumentation and collect
data; as well as utilize the Internet for other tasks," says Anthony Andrews.
He is director of the forensic chemistry program at Ohio University.
Take all the advanced science, physics and mathematics courses you can,
says Andrews. "Many students have problems with the math involved, long before
they have problems with the chemistry."
Andrews advises students to take on anything that can help them learn about
chemistry. This could include science fairs and science clubs, as well
as reading up on chemistry-related topics in your spare time.
The extra costs students face include books, lab coats and safety glasses.
Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Chemists
and Materials Scientists
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