Careers in Math & Chemistry

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A necessary evil for some people, math is vital in a number of careers. Math skills are unquestionably important in jobs dealing with finance and statistics, but they are also necessary in many occupations centered around chemistry. Chemists, materials scientists, chemical engineers, biochemists, biophysicists and chemical technicians all use both math and chemistry in their work.

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Chemists and materials scientists typically work in basic or applied research, where they use math to measure materials and substances, calculate weights or perform statistical analysis. Basic research, as the term implies, is an investigation into basic principles of the properties, composition and structure of matter, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Applied research is used to develop new materials, alloys or products. Although a bachelor’s degree might be sufficient for an entry-level job, independent researchers must have a minimum of a master’s degree and might need a Ph.D for certain jobs. Job prospects are projected to be lower -- at 6 percent growth from 2012 to 2022 -- than the average of 11 percent for all occupations, according to the BLS. Chemists earned $77,740 and materials scientists took home $91,160 in 2013, according to the BLS.

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Biochemistry research may be ideal for a math and chemistry whiz. Biochemists and biophysicists focus their research on protein, hormones, DNA and other biologically related molecules. They use math for calculating probabilities in genetic applications, measurements and statistics. A bachelor’s degree will do for entry-level positions, but biochemists and biophysicists need a doctorate to perform research. The growth rate for these professions is projected to be 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. Salaries are comparable to those of materials scientists; the BLS reports the average annual salary was $91,640 in 2013.

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Once research scientists have completed their work, chemical engineers pick up the task, using chemistry, biology, physics and math to solve problems. An engineer's focus is on process and equipment design; production and supervision of production processes; product manufacturing; and the treatment or disposal of byproducts. An engineer uses math to calculate stress, build machinery or analyze production runs. A bachelor’s degree in the field is the minimum educational requirement, according to the BLS. Some states require chemical engineers to be licensed, and certification may improve chances for promotion. Chemical engineering is a relatively small field and the BLS projects a small growth rate -- only 4 percent from 2012 to 2022. Salaries are good, however, with an average annual salary of $140,430 in 2013, according to the BLS.

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Not all careers in math and chemistry require advanced education. Chemical technicians work under research scientists or engineers. Technicians use math to calculate weights and measures, and complete statistical analyses. They might conduct experiments designed by a scientist or run production processes designed by a chemical engineer. An associate degree or two years of post-secondary training is typically required, and many chemical technicians receive extensive on-the-job training. The growth rate for this occupation is projected to be 9 percent from 2012 to 2022, and the BLS notes that chemical technicians earned an average annual salary of $46,590 in 2013.

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