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Chemistry Overview - Preparation - Specialty Areas - Co-ops and Internships - Employment - Earnings - Profiles of Chemists - Career Path Forecast -Professional Organizations

Specialty Areas
- Agricultural Chemistry
- Analytical Chemistry
- Biochemistry
- Biotechnology
- Catalysis
- Chemical Education
- Chemical Engineering
- Chemical Information
- Chemical Sales and Marketing
- Chemical Technology
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry
- Consulting
- Consumer Products Development
- Environmental Chemistry
- Food and Flavor Chemistry
- Forensic Chemistry
- Geochemistry
- Hazardous Waste Management
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Materials Science
- Medicinal Chemistry
- Oil and Petroleum
- Organic Chemistry
- Physical Chemistry
- Polymer Chemistry
- Pulp and Paper Chemistry
- R&D Management
- Science Writing
- Textile Chemistry
- Water Chemistry

Inorganic Chemistry
Inorganic chemistry is the study of the synthesis and behavior of inorganic and organometallic compounds. It has applications in every aspect of the chemical industry including catalysis, materials science, pigments, surfactants, coatings, medicine, fuel, and agriculture. Inorganic chemists are employed in fields as diverse as the mining and microchip industries, environmental science, and education. Their work is based on understanding the behavior and the analogues for inorganic elements, and how these materials can be modified, separated or used often in product applications. It includes developing methods to recover metals from waste streams; employment as analytical chemists specializing in analysis of mined ores; performing research on the use of inorganic chemicals for treating soil. Many inorganic chemists go into industry, but they are also at universities and in government labs. Inorganic chemists who work in government say their time is increasingly spent writing grant proposals and competing for a small pool of research money. Inorganic chemists compare their jobs to those of materials scientists and physicists. All three fields explore the relationship between physical properties and functions, but inorganic chemistry is the most keenly focused on these properties at the molecular level.

Materials Science
Materials science is an applied science concerned with the relationship between the structure and properties of materials. Chemists who work in the field study how different combinations of molecules and materials result in different properties. They use this knowledge to synthesize new materials with special properties. Materials science is one of the hottest career areas in science, but to think of it as a single career is misleading. Perhaps one reason for its popularity is that it unites applications from many scientific disciplines that contribute to the development of new materials. Chemists play a predominant role in materials science because chemistry provides information about the structure and composition of materials as well as the processes to apply and synthesize them. Materials science overlaps to a large extent with polymer science resulting in many new polymeric materials being developed in this century. Materials scientists are employed by companies whose products are made of metals, ceramics, and rubber, for example; they work in the coatings (developing new varieties of paint) and biologics industries (designing materials that are compatible with human tissues for prosthetics and implants). Other applications of materials science include studies of superconducting materials, graphite materials, integrated-circuit chips, and fuel cells. Materials science is so interdisciplinary that preparation in a number of related areas is important. 

Medicinal Chemistry
Medicinal chemistry is the application of chemical research techniques to the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. During the early stages of medicinal chemistry development, scientists were primarily concerned with the isolation of medicinal agents found in plants. Today, scientists in this field are also equally concerned with the creation of new synthetic drug compounds. Medicinal chemistry is almost always geared toward drug discovery and development. Medicinal chemistry research is an important area of research that is performed in many university labs. Medicinal chemists apply their chemistry training to the process of synthesizing new pharmaceuticals. They also work on improving the process by which other pharmaceuticals are made. Most chemists work with a team of scientists from different disciplines, including biologists, toxicologists, pharmacologists, theoretical chemists, microbiologists, and biopharmacists. Together this team uses sophisticated analytical techniques to synthesize and test new drug products and to develop the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly means of production.

Oil and Petroleum Chemistry
The oil and petroleum industry offers chemists and chemical engineers a broad range of work opportunities over a wide area of chemistry. For example, specialists in chemometrics rely on statistical and computer expertise to put lab instruments online at a refinery. Working with delicate machines can be a challenging assignment anywhere, but in a refinery they must operate under hostile conditions--including temperature extremes, vibrations from surrounding equipment, continuous operation, and locations that make monitoring difficult. With crude oil being the raw material for polymer production, there are positions for polymer chemists throughout the field. Since these positions are also defined by the demands of a business environment, most polymer chemists work on projects with real-world applications rather than do "research for its own sake." Many in the industry view polymers as a growing field in which many questions are unanswered and many areas still untested.

Organic Chemistry
Organic chemistry is that branch of chemistry that deals with the structure, properties, and reactions of com-pounds that contain carbon. It is a highly creative science. Chemists in general, and organic chemists in particular, can create new molecules never before proposed, which, if carefully designed, may have important proper-ties for the betterment of the human experience. Organic chemistry is the largest chemistry discipline in both total numbers and annual Ph.D. graduates. those industries that depend on research and development (R&D), working on projects from fundamental discovery to highly applied product development. The foundation of the pharmaceutical industry is its large pool of highly skilled organic chemists. For example, nature may provide a molecule such as a complex anti-biotic, an antitumor agent, or a replacement for a hormone such as insulin; organic chemists determine the structure of this newly discovered molecule and then modify it to enhance the desired activity and specificity of action, while decreasing undesired side effects. Indeed, organic chemists have produced a wonderful myriad of highly successful products to fight human diseases. Nearly all modern pharmaceutical agents are first designed, synthesized, and optimized by organic chemists working in collaboration with biologists.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the American Chemical Society and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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