Chemistry is one of the most incredible fields of study today. For thousands of years, alchemists attempted to turn lead into gold. Spells, incantations, and ground-up leaves were the most trusted medication. Over the past 150 years the field of chemistry has (literally) exploded, causing waves of change in every aspect of society.
If you love chemistry, you are incredibly lucky. Your timing couldn’t be better for an exciting, fulfilling, world-altering career. Chemistry touches every aspect of human life today, from how we live, work, heal, fly, and even travel into space.
If you love chemistry, you can explore the possibilities in a high school STEM summer program or a pre-college summer program like the ones at the University of Connecticut or the Boston Leadership Institute. Or, you can take a STEM course at a community college. And you can think about careers such as these:
1. Chemical Engineer
I remember how exciting it was to get out the Bunsen burner, mix a few clear liquids, and then watch as the beaker turned blue and a precipitate fell to the bottom. Drying and weighing the precipitate, we figured out exactly which atoms it was made of.
If you enjoyed your lab days as much as I did, then you may enjoy working as a chemical engineer. Instead of following a set lab procedure, you’ll be able to design your own molecules and actually create them.
You’re able to design pharmaceuticals to help people overcome disease, build fuel cells for ever-more-efficient vehicles, and even build nanotechnology machines. Check out the summer program at Northern Illinois University if you’re especially interested in nanotechnology.
2. Environmental Chemist
Want to protect the earth and get outside the office to enjoy nature? As an environmental chemist you can do both. You’ll be in charge of monitoring chemicals in the air, water, and ground. You’ll be the first to know if a factory is polluting the local lake, or if pesticides from a nearby farm are destroying the surrounding ecosystem.
If you love chemistry, enjoy being outdoors and are always bugging your friends to recycle and compost, then you may love a career as an environmental chemist. Test it out in a summer environmental program like the one at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
If you love chemistry and biology, a career as a geneticist may be a perfect fit for you. Career opportunities exist in medicine, agriculture, law enforcement, and industry.
You can use your knowledge to help patients understand their possible reactions to drugs and treatment. You’ll help uncover potentially harmful genetic diseases that would otherwise remain hidden. Scientists have even modified bacteria to produce human insulin!
As knowledge of chemistry and biology increases, the field of genetics is only becoming more and more exciting. You can check it out in a summer program like the College Preparation Program at Northwestern University.
Get started early!
If you love chemistry, there is no better time to build a career in this field. The discoveries in just the last decade, not to mention the past 50 years, have revolutionized our lives in innumerable ways and the trend is only accelerating.
Check out TeenLife’s Guide to STEM Programs for ideas on how you can explore your interest in chemistry even further.