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Experiment with chemicals to come up with useful products.

Salary Range

$54,960 - $101,460

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

What does a Chemist do?

Imagine yourself in a lab, playing the role of the mad scientist. Beakers with green goo bubbling inside sit atop Bunsen burners. You add one more test tube of liquid and poof! Dinner appears.

Well, not quite, but you get the picture. You might not be able to concoct dinner, but as a chemist, you use chemical combinations to create a host of other substances that we use every day.

Chemists’ careful measurements and note-taking not only result in useful products like medications, foods, and fuel, but also set the groundwork for further experimentation. As with all fields of science, a chemist’s chosen area requires research to provide an encyclopedic database to grow on. Different chemical combinations produce different results, with different possibilities. In this field, your research tells us which combination creates a toxic byproduct, and which produces a more favorable one, such as energy.

The atoms you study make up everything in our world–plastic, paint, wood, humans. You name it, and it is made up of atoms. That means virtually limitless opportunities in the field. You could work to create cleaner oil production techniques, discover new fibers for clothes and linens, or produce higher yields of agricultural products.

So, if you memorized your Periodic Table of the Elements even before you could identify the fifty states, you’ve got the brains for the job. Now all you need is some specialized training and you’re off to find a job in pharmacology, forensics, product development, or teaching.