Polymers are large molecules that are either naturally occurring, such as starch and leather, or manufactured, such as polyethylene. Because polymers are present in so many items -- ranging from food to footwear and from medicine to military applications -- the study of polymers opens the door to a range of employment opportunities.
Organizations Needing Polymer Science Expertise
Job opportunities for polymer scientists exist at companies that manufacture or research chemicals, resins, synthetic rubber, artificial fibers, paints, coatings, plastics and adhesives. Research and development organizations, educational institutions, petroleum companies and medical products companies also have a call for polymer scientists. Government organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and military institutions like the Air Force, Army and Navy provide additional career options. Some polymer scientists form their own consulting companies.
Specific jobs for those with polymer science backgrounds include research scientist, research chemist, analytic chemist, materials engineer, development engineer, process engineer and polymer chemist. Research fellowships and university faculty positions are also options for PhD holders. A polymer science background, combined with appropriate business and leadership skills and work experience, can lead to senior management roles. These roles range from head of the research department to president and CEO of the entire organization.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes polymer scientists within a larger group called materials scientists. Within the materials scientists group, May 2013 data gathered by the BLS showed the largest number of jobs occurring in scientific research and development services, colleges and universities, and basic chemical manufacturing. The annual mean wage for materials scientists was $91,160 as of May 2013. Employment is expected to grow 6 percent from 2012 to 2022, below the average for all occupations.
- American Chemical Society: Career Pathways
- NC State University: Polymer and Color Chemistry (PCC)
- North Dakota State University: Coatings and Polymeric Metals
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chemists and Materials Scientists: Job Outlook
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013: 19-2032 Materials Scientists
- University of Akron Department of Polymer Engineering: Distinguished Alumni Award - Past Recipients
- University of Akron Department of Polymer Science: Job Openings
- University of Southern Mississippi: Macrogalleria
- University of Southern Mississippi: School of Polymers and High Performance Materials: Jobs for Graduates
- University of Southern Mississippi: Macrogalleria Level One
- Photo Credit raeva/iStock/Getty Images
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