Career Path Forecast
According to the U.S. Department of Labor,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment
of chemists is expected to grow 2 percent over
the 2008-2018 decade, slower than the average for all occupations.
Job growth will occur in professional, scientific, and technical
services firms as manufacturing companies continue to outsource their
R&D and testing operations to these smaller, specialized firms.
Demand for chemists is
expected to be driven by biotechnology firms. Biotechnological research,
including studies of human genes, continues to offer possibilities for
the development of new drugs and products to combat illnesses and
diseases that have previously been unresponsive to treatments derived by
traditional chemical processes.
chemical manufacturing industry is expected to employ fewer chemists as
companies divest their R&D operations. To control costs, most chemical
companies, including many large pharmaceutical and biotechnology
companies, will increasingly turn to scientific R&D services firms to
perform specialized research and other work formerly done by in-house
chemists. As a result, these firms will experience healthy job growth.
Also, companies are expected to conduct an increasing amount of
manufacturing and research in lower-wage countries, further limiting
domestic employment growth. Quality control will continue to be an
important issue in chemical manufacturing and other industries that use
chemicals in their manufacturing processes.
Chemists also will be
employed to develop and improve the technologies and processes used to
produce chemicals for all purposes and to monitor and measure air and
water pollutants to ensure compliance with local, State, and Federal
environmental regulations. Environmental research will offer many new
opportunities for chemists. To satisfy public concerns and to comply
with government regulations, chemical manufacturing industries will
continue to invest billions of dollars each year in technology that
reduces pollution and cleans up existing waste sites. Research into
traditional and alternative energy sources should also lead to
employment growth among chemists.
chemists at all levels may experience competition for jobs, particularly
in declining chemical manufacturing industries. Pharmaceutical and
biotechnology firms will continue to be a primary source of chemistry
jobs, but graduates with a bachelor's degree in chemistry may also find
science-related jobs in sales, marketing, and management. Some
bachelor's degree holders become chemical technicians or technologists
or high school chemistry teachers. In addition, they may qualify for
assistant research positions at smaller research organizations.
with an advanced degree, particularly those with a Ph.D., are expected
to enjoy somewhat better opportunities. Larger pharmaceutical and
biotechnology firms provide openings for these workers at research
laboratories, and many others work in colleges and universities.
Furthermore, chemists with an advanced degree will continue to fill most
senior research and upper management positions; however, similar to
applicants in other occupations, chemist applicants face strong
competition for the limited number of upper management jobs.
In addition to job
openings resulting from employment growth, some job openings will result
from the need to replace chemists who retire or otherwise leave the
During periods of
economic recession, layoffs of chemists may occur—especially in the
industrial chemicals industry. Layoffs are less likely in the
pharmaceutical industry, where long development cycles generally
overshadow short-term economic conditions. The traditional chemical
industries, however, provide many raw materials to the automotive
manufacturing and construction industries, both of which are vulnerable
to temporary slowdowns during recessions.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
Bureau of Labor Statistics.