Create a Positive Reaction: Exploring a Career in Chemistry

Chemists do life-saving work behind the scenes, developing how our foods and medicines are formulated and produced. Like many other STEM fields, unfortunately, Black chemists have seen poor representation in both the academic and professional spheres. The more representation there is, the better all of us are prepared for solving problems that span all of humanity.

Why Should You Go into Chemistry?

Since chemistry is a required class for most high schools, you’ll likely have an opportunity to start exploring your interest in chemistry. In addition, a few characteristics in particular lend themselves to a successful career in the field. Successful chemists are detail-oriented problem-solvers. They are skilled in math and science. Their work requires them to be effective both working individually and on a team.

Claflin University Student

Claflin University Student

Thanks to the versatility of their skillset, chemists will find well-paying, stable work in many different industries. Both in your studies and in your future career, you can focus on an area of the field that interests you the most; possible areas of specialization include chemical engineering, teaching, forensics, pharmacology and toxicology.

Whatever your interest, students who plan to pursue careers in this field will need to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in chemistry. Such programs include a wide range of related course subjects, such as:

  • Physics
  • Biochemistry
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • Computer science
  • Engineering physics
  • Geometry
  • Inorganic chemistry

Careers in Chemistry

Graduates in this field may pursue careers in a wide variety of capacities. Some of these include:

  • Anesthesiologist
  • Astrophysicist
  • Ballistics expert
  • Biochemist
  • Chemical analyst
  • Chemist
  • Crime lab analyst
  • Pharmacologist
  • Professor
  • Environmental engineer

Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in chemistry? Looking for help with financing this degree?

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Preparing for Success

Chances are, your high school offers several classes that will help you develop key skills needed in the chemistry field. Take as many advanced math and science courses as you can. Science classes that require lab work are a great way to get a head start on developing practical skills. Taking AP chemistry, if it’s available, is especially helpful. 

As you go through the process of selecting a college, find a school with a chemistry major that graduates students who go on to successful careers in their field. Ask about the technology available in campus labs. Is it up-to-date with what professional chemists are using today? By working with professional-grade technology in your studies, you’ll be better equipped to hit the ground running for a future career.

Schools to Consider

To enter fields related to chemistry, students must at minimum earn a bachelor’s degree. These UNCF-member schools offer programs in chemistry:

Professional Organizations

There are also many professional chemistry organizations that can provide more insight into some of the specializations in this discipline. A sample list includes:

  • American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB)
  • Biochemical Society
  • Chemical Institute of Canada
  • European Photochemical Association (EPA)
  • International Society for the Philosophy of Chemistry (ISPC

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start out your path toward a successful career in chemistry than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for Chemistry majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study chemistry.

Participants in Fund 2 Foundation UNCF Stem Scholars program

UNCF Fund II STEM Scholars

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in chemistry. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!