Chemistry is a branch of science that focuses on the properties, composition and reactions of inorganic and organic substances. A degree program in chemistry teaches students how chemical matter changes and interacts with the environment, humans, plants and animals. Career opportunities are available in a variety of areas, including law enforcement, engineering and education.
Forensic chemists analyze crime scenes and evidence using chemicals and technology in order to draw conclusions based on guilt or innocence. Forensics is an integral part of the crime-solving process, and chemists may have to present their findings in detailed reports or testify as experts in courtrooms. Prospective forensic chemists must graduate with at least a bachelor's degree in chemical forensics. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), forensic science technicians earned a median salary of $51,480 per year in 2009.
Chemical technicians are responsible for assisting chemical engineers and chemists in the processing and production of various products. Duties may include testing products, collecting samples and sanitizing laboratories. Chemical technicians may also have to set up experiments, write down the results and keep detailed records. Educational requirements of a chemical technician includes an associate degree in chemical technology. In 2009, the BLS reports that chemical technicians earned a median salary of $42,070.
Chemistry teachers teach high school students the foundational theories and principles involved in chemistry. Teachers are responsible for creating lessons plans, preparing lab experiences, delivering lectures, grading papers and evaluating student performance. Prospective chemistry teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree in chemistry and teaching certification. It's important for chemistry teachers to have strong communication skills and the patience to work with students who are having trouble with the subject. The BLS reports in 2009 that secondary school teachers earned $52,200 per year.
Chemical engineers are responsible for producing and processing chemical products in the aerospace, environmental, fuel and paper industries. In order to work in the field, chemical engineers combine the elements of chemistry and engineering, and may specialize in a particular area involving pollution control or fertilizer. While prospective chemical engineers must complete a graduate program in chemical engineering, opportunities are also available to join a professional organization, such as the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). According to the BLS, as of 2009, chemical engineer earned a median salary of $88,280 per year.
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