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gregpawin:
I was wondering if anyone knew or could share some stories about what they did once they got their degree and the current or previous job market at the time.  What kinds of fields were avaliable to you and intense zeal for chemistry aside, might have better off financially doing something else (ie. pharmacy, law, etc).  It would be of great help of to us chemists in training.

gregpawin:
Lemme just first start the first one.  First of all, I guess I would consider myself a physical chemist based on the research I do but I hear bad stuff about becoming a physical chemist.  

According to a doctorate student friend of mine, he was approached by so many people telling him not to go down the PhD in chemistry route.  They told him to go to pharmacy school immediately.  He told me stories of how his other friend went to go work for some kind of organic chemistry lab and now drives a lot of imported sport cars. But my friend lamented on the boredom synthesis gives him.  He described his previous work in the field as just doing the same reaction and changing every possible variable (temperature, reactant ratio, heating time, etc) to get maximum yields for a reaction.

I don't want to get trapped in something I don't like, but at the same time I don't want to be gloriously overqualified and underpaid for everything I do.

jdurg:
Well, I graduated from school in May of 2002 with a B.S. in Forensic Chemistry from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.  Upon graduation, there was absolutely nothing in terms of jobs available.  While forensic chemistry sounds like an incredible career field, the number of available jobs in the field are incredibly small.  Most of the jobs go to people in the millitary or law enforcement fields as they have familiarity with the laws and regulations.  Getting a job with no experience in law enforcement or millitary service really puts you at a disadvantage.  I think having Forensics as a secondary major is a good thing to have, but having it be your primary major isn't going to help you too much in the job market.  

I also had problems with the job market upon graduation because my expertise in organic chemistry is not that great.  I know a great deal about the analysis of trace samples and some toxicology, but organic synthesis is still pretty foreign to me.  A lot of the chemistry job market is in organic synthesis and biological chemistry.  Organic synthesis plays a huge part in the pharmaceutical research fields and in drug discovery.  Those are where the high paying jobs are at the moment.

If your love of chemistry is in working with chemicals and whatnot, then perhaps the chemical engineering field is for you.  That field tends to have a few more jobs open as well as some high paying positions.  

I currently work for a Clinical Research Organization as a Data Processor.  Sadly, the salary of around $12.00 an hour is nothing compared to what I was hoping for when I entered college.  My chemistry and toxicology knowledge does come in handy every now and then, and it will allow me to have an easier time moving up in the company.  Sadly, however, it's nothing like what I wanted to do when I went to college.  My element collection is what I use to keep me in the "chemical field" and this website is a big plus as it allows me to still use my knowledge every now and then.  My dream job is to work with the synthesis of explosive compounds and the forensic analysis of blast sites, but that's an incredibly difficult field to get into and my being a type I diabetic makes that even tougher.  

gregpawin:
Gosh that sucks.  I think forensics is one of the most exciting of chemisty careers since they get a lot of their fame from crime shows where forensics experts show without a shadow of a doubt who the guilty party is.  But I remember taking a seminar on chemistry careers and a forensics guy came in and told us about the importance of the work that they do but said that unfortunately they were not hiring at the moment.  I think this is due to the general state that most government jobs are in.  Most states are pretty strapped lately (*achem* politics) and don't have the resources to hire new people.

jdurg:

--- Quote from: gregpawin on April 02, 2004, 06:24:23 PM ---Gosh that sucks.  I think forensics is one of the most exciting of chemisty careers since they get a lot of their fame from crime shows where forensics experts show without a shadow of a doubt who the guilty party is.  But I remember taking a seminar on chemistry careers and a forensics guy came in and told us about the importance of the work that they do but said that unfortunately they were not hiring at the moment.  I think this is due to the general state that most government jobs are in.  Most states are pretty strapped lately (*achem* politics) and don't have the resources to hire new people.

--- End quote ---

One MAJOR thing that people overlook is the fact that the stuff on TV is simply televsion.  The real forensics field is not glitzy and glamorous, and is pretty much the same thing over and over and over again.  It's generally just the running of drug screenings, immunoassay and chromatographic analysis, etc. etc.  The vast majority of your work is on negative samples, or calibration of your machines.  The media tries to portray the forensics field as this "exciting new career path" where you are constantly cracking unsolved cases and making exciting discoveries.  Heh.  That's simply not how it is.   :P  Unfortuneately, this glamorization of forensics has caused people to start majoring in it left and right, and switching careers so that they can be a part of it.  As a result, there are no jobs in the field and any that open up are either horrendous in terms of salary, or are quickly filled.  So for me, shows like CSI and the various other crime shows have prevented me from getting a job in what I majored in.   :(

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