Chemists get to ask some great questions, from “If I set this on fire what will happen?” to “If I combine these elements together in the right way can I create something totally new”? And it’s all part of the job.
Yep, as long as their question has a purpose! (And they follow the health and safety guidelines...)
What do chemists do?
Chemists conduct experiments to study how elements work in different conditions, test how they mix, and work out what they are made up of right down to the tiniest particle.
The results can be groundbreaking, colourful, explosive, or almost impossible to see.
Chemists use their experiments and knowledge to develop medicines, foods, fabrics and other materials, from neon lights to shatterproof glass.
They also use it to understand the world around us, from why leaves change colour to discovering invisible pollutants in the air.
'Chemists get to do some seriously cool stuff – and it's all part of the job!'
Chemistry is everywhere!
Pick up a can of soft drink and you’ll find chemistry everywhere, from the metal can you’re holding, to the paint used to cover it and the liquid inside.
Just breathe in and out and you’re performing a chemical reaction, which is a little scary, but pretty great too…
What skills will I get from studying chemistry?
All that questioning and experimentation can be really handy when it comes to building a whole range of skills for work.
Chemistry helps you to develop research, problem solving and analytical skills. It helps to you challenge ideas and show how you worked things out through logic and step-by-step reasoning. Chemistry often requires teamwork and communication skills too, which is great for project management.
What careers is chemistry good for?
Chemistry will help you get ahead in most STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers and more besides.
Chemistry is an important subject for careers in: medicine, environmental science, engineering, toxicology, developing consumer products, metallurgy (studying how metals behave), space exploration, developing perfumes and cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, software development and research.
Don't believe us? Check out our interviews with people who all studied chemistry at A-level or beyond and went on to have fantastically varied careers:
For more information on careers in chemistry, take a look at out post Five Exciting Career Choices for Chemistry Students.
What subjects does chemistry go with?
Chemistry will help in your study of other sciences and technical subjects including: maths, physics, biology, engineering, IT, psychology, geography and geology. But study it alongside a modern language or an essay subject like history at A-level and you will have even more options for courses and careers.
What degrees and other qualifications do I need chemistry for?
In our Why Study Maths article, we mentioned the gang of four – which includes maths, physics, chemistry and biology.
For degrees in medicine or geology, for example, you will usually need two out of these four subjects at A-level. Chemistry is often highly recommended, especially for the life sciences, which study living organisms, like us...
Chemistry is usually required for degree courses in: biochemistry, chemistry (yes, it’s true…) chemical engineering, dentistry, dietetics (studies in food and nutrition) and pharmacy.
It is often needed or recommended for: biology, medicine, other types of engineering, geography, environmental sciences, materials science, physiotherapy, nursing, sports science, psychology, zoology and veterinary science.
Where can I find out more?
Take a look at our article on related subjects:
On other websites:
- Royal Society of Chemistry – Courses & Careers