What career opportunities are there in the chemical industry?

Did you ever realise that virtually every new technology in the world is based on chemistry? Chemists play an essential role in providing solutions to society’s biggest challenges and enabling an improved quality of life. For example, their research can contribute to cure diseases, protect the environment through energy-saving applications, or even create the latest music technology.

Chemists do not only work for the chemical industry, they work in many other areas such as pharmaceuticals, construction materials, mechanics, electronics, plastics, and various service industries such as insurance, transport, local authorities, teaching and public research.

On the industry side, chemical manufacturers do not hire only chemists. Just like any other company, they deal with various professions – up to 100 different kinds of jobs in total! There are jobs for all tastes and qualifications in areas like production, research & development, logistics, marketing & sales, finance, human resources and law.

In Europe, the chemical industry employs a huge 1.3 million people in 27,000 companies. This figure rises to close to 4 million if industries that directly depend on chemistry products are taken into account, such as agriculture, food, automotive, textile and healthcare. The chemical industry is therefore a major provider of wealth and a key sector in the economy.

The European chemical industry is however facing increasing difficulties in finding qualified personnel, although its wages are usually above average. The European Union estimated that if Europe wants to remain a competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, 700,000 additional researchers or 1.2 million research-related personnel will be needed by 2010. These people are crucial for Europe’s capacity to bring new innovations to the market - but the situation is all the more challenging, as young people are less and less interested in science and scientific studies.

The various paths offered to chemistry graduates in industry are relatively unknown. Chemistry covers a very wide range of disciplines such as chemical engineering, biochemistry, materials science or environmental chemistry. New promising fields are also emerging such as biotechnology and nanotechnology; being a chemist does not necessarily mean working in a laboratory all day long. Again, there are many more opportunities that one could ever think of. A chemist can become a production, marketing or even regulatory manager, for instance. It’s very much a matter of skills and motivation! 

Related links:

http://www.metierschimie.be/ (FR)
http://www.jobschemie.be/ (NL)
http://www.lesmetiersdelachimie.com/ (FR)
http://www.letudiant.fr/metiers/chat-les-metiers-de-la-chimie.html (FR)
http://www.letudiant.fr/metiers/secteur/biologie-chimie-pharmacie.html (FR)
http://www.feelthechemistry.nl/ (NL + EN)
http://fonds.vci.de/ (DE)
http://www.chemie-im-fokus.de/start.htm (DE + EN)
http://royalsociety.org/page.asp?id=3502 (EN)
http://www.rsc.org/Education/SchoolStudents/profiles/index.asp (EN)
http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_CAREERS&node_id=87&use_sec=false&sec_url_var=region1 (EN)
(22 languages)