Working in drug discovery, chemists research the reasons why diseases develop and help to create new treatments.
The majority of chemists are graduates. In addition to possessing a relevant degree, a postgraduate qualification and relevant work experience are likely to be required for some jobs. To study for a degree in chemistry, at least two A levels in scientific subjects are required, as well as good GCSE passes in English and maths. Once in employment, chemists often receive on-the-job training to learn about new laboratory techniques.
Chemists must possess an enquiring mind, an ability to think logically, good problem solving skills, an awareness of health and safety, and an ability to work methodically.
In industry, the majority of trained chemists are employed in research and development. Chemist jobs are also available in the public sector, where employers include educational institutions and government research establishments. In the NHS, chemists are employed in hospitals, the Public Analytical Laboratory Service, and the Health Protection Agency. Vacancies tend to be advertised by employers, in the press and through recruitment agencies.
Starting salaries for chemists are in the region of £20,000 a year. Experienced chemists may go on to become staff supervisors and team leaders. Career prospects and salaries are likely to be improved by studying for a higher qualification, such as a PhD in an area related to chemistry.