What could I do with a chemistry major?
Our chemistry majors go on to work in a wide variety of fields, including the energy, food, and pharmaceutical industries. Quite a few of our students enter the health professions. Many go into the chemical industry and work in manufacturing, product development, quality control, or testing; some remain as "bench" chemists while others opt for management positions. Some of our graduates go into teaching at the high school or college level. Others may enter government positions or choose careers in law or public policy. For more information on career options or specific job openings for chemists, see the American Chemical Society site on career opportunities.
What are typical salaries of chemists?
The salaries of chemists are quite variable depending on their education, number of years experience, employer, and even the area of the country in which they work. The American Chemical Society's annual salary survey is a good place to start. Unemployment in the chemistry field remains lower than the national average. Over the last ten years, at any given time about 2% of chemists were unemployed while the figures for non-chemists ranged from 4 to 8 %.
Will I need an advanced degree?
That depends on what you want to do. In industry, many of the routine chemical procedures are performed by bachelor level chemists, while Ph.D. level chemists often direct the research. Becoming a physician requires a medical degree, becoming a lawyer requires a law degree, and teaching at the college level requires a Ph.D. But our students who pursue jobs immediately after graduation from Cornell find interesting jobs with real opportunities for advancement. Some of these students go on to earn graduate degrees later in their careers.
How do I choose a graduate school?
Think about your preferences for specialty and location, and talk with your Cornell advisor. The American Chemical Society (ACS) has two helpful sites. One is a general resource for planning your graduate career. More particularly, the ACS maintains a Directory of Graduate Research which covers all the chemistry (and related) graduate programs in the United States and Canada. This directory is available online and can be searched free of charge.