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Chemistry Major

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Chemistry

15,731 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
2,402 Master's Degrees Annually
#33 in Popularity
$83,850 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Chemistry Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many chemistry graduations there were in 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 15,735
Doctor’s Degree 2,965
Master’s Degree 2,402
Associate’s Degree 1,101
Basic Certificate 131
Graduate Certificate 45
Undergraduate Certificate 10

What Chemistry Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, chemistry majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Chemistry Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

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  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Chemistry - Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

Skills for Chemistry Majors

A major in chemistry prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Abilities for Chemistry Majors

As you progress with your chemistry degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

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  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Chemistry Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with chemistry:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Chemistry Professors 9.9% $79,550
Chemists 6.5% $76,890
Clinical Research Coordinators 9.9% $123,860
Environmental Restoration Planners 11.1% $71,130
Environmental Science Professors 10.1% $79,910
Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health 11.1% $71,130
Forensic Science Technicians 16.9% $58,230
Industrial Ecologists 11.1% $71,130
Natural Sciences Managers 9.9% $123,860
Physics Postsecondary Professors 10.2% $90,800
Secondary School Teachers, Except Special and Career/Technical Education 7.5% $60,320
Water Resource Specialists 9.9% $123,860

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry?

15,735 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
51% Percent Women
36% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
Chemistry runs middle of the road when it comes to popularity, ranking #33 out of all the undergraduate majors we track. In 2018, about 15,731 graduates completed their bachelor’s degree in this field. According to recent stats this major attracts about equal numbers of men and women. Roughly 51% of the graduates are women, and 49% are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of chemistry majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Chemistry Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 2,012
Black or African American 1,150
Hispanic or Latino 1,860
White 8,694
International Students 956
Other Races/Ethnicities 1,063

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Chemistry, too. About 6.1% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • India
  • South Korea
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Sri Lanka

How Much Do Chemistry Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry have a median salary of $35,600 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $33,250 (25th percentile) and $38,850 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in chemistry, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $64,340 to $92,360 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to chemistry. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Chemistry Major  ( 64340 to 92360 )
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Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with chemistry may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

Find out what the typical degree level is for chemistry careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
High School Diploma - or the equivalent (for example, GED) 1.2%
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.6%
Some College Courses 3.4%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 2.3%
Bachelor’s Degree 36.3%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 3.6%
Master’s Degree 23.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 0.8%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 0.5%
Doctoral Degree 17.7%
Post-Doctoral Training 9.8%

Online Chemistry Programs

In the 2017-2018 academic year, 1,351 schools offered some type of chemistry program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 7 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 5 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 197 6
Bachelor’s Degree 12 0
Post-Baccalaureate 7 0
Master’s Degree 342 5
Post-Master’s 5 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 233 0
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Chemistry Worth It?

The median salary for a chemistry grad is $83,850 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 110% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $879,000 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to chemistry.

Major Number of Grads
Physics 13,815
Geological & Earth Sciences 9,816
General Physical Sciences 4,387
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology 1,188
Astronomy & Astrophysics 1,062
Materials Sciences 598
Other Physical Science 513

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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